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Thursday, August 25th, 2016
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This was one field trip well worth attending

Fri, May 25th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

On Tuesday, May 22, 270 fourth graders from seven schools in Houston and Fillmore counties converged on the Mabel Steam Engine Grounds in Mabel for a Farm Safety Day Camp. The seven schools participating in the event included Caledonia, Chatfield, Houston, Kingsland, Mabel-Canton, Rushford-Peterson, and Spring Grove.

The Farm Safety Day Camp was conceived and organized by Fillmore/Houston County Extension Educator Jerry Tesmer. The veteran Extension director started working on the event this past winter. He felt there was a need to educate area youth, both farm and non-farm kids, about the safety issues on and off the farm. He shared his idea with a number of "movers and shakers" in the two-county area, and came up with a very successful event.

The day included 12 different sessions on general farm safety, basic first aid, electricity safety issues, grain bin drowning, livestock safety, lawn mower safety, seat belt use, tractor and PTO dangers, the use of fire extinguishers, smoke detector maintenance, and proper usage of sun screens.

Students were also able to tour a Mayo One helicopter, an ambulance furnished by the Mabel Ambulance Service, a Mabel Fire Department pumper, and check out a county deputy squad car.

While I'm sure some reading this are wondering why pull nearly 300 fourth graders out of class to learn about farm safety when probably less than 20 percent of them live on a working farm. Much of what was covered during the four-hour day camp had to do with safety issues many of us encounter every day. And a certain percentage of those non-farm kids will have an opportunity to spend time on a farm, either visiting friends or relatives, or possibly earning a little money during the summer months.

Visiting with some of the fourth grade teachers at the day camp, I heard nothing but very positive feedback. Several teachers told me the May 22 day camp was one of the most informative, and well-organized events they had attended. A veteran bus driver, who said he has transported students on countless field trips, echoed those remarks.

Tesmer, the staffs of both the Houston and Fillmore County Extension offices who helped coordinate the event, and the dozens of persons who donated their time as presenters and facilitators, need to be commended for a job well done. It took countless hours developing, organizing, and coordinating an educational event that kept nearly 300 fourth graders interested for that long of time.

As I followed the students around to the various safety sessions, I could see they really were interested in what was being presented, and I'm sure some of it sunk in. When a newspaper-filled dummy was whipped around and torn apart during the PTO session, eyes grew wide. When Brad Pecinovsky of Tri-County Electric demonstrated what happens when an errant kite makes contact with a powerline, jaws dropped.

This was an excellent learning experience for the students and teachers of the seven school districts that attended the day camp. Speaking with Tesmer towards the end of the day, he was pleased with how the event went, and the support he received from area businesses, organizations, and individuals. He plans to make the day camp an annual event, and hopes to include even more schools next year.

The month of May is usually the time when schools schedule field trips, many of which are geared towards educating, as well as entertaining. The Farm Safety Day Camp is one all schools in the two-county area should include.

Kudos to Tesmer, his staffs, and the many volunteers and sponsors who made this event a huge success. It was an excellent way for a fourth grader, and this middle-aged journalist, to spend a spring day learning how to live more safely.

Charlie Warner is the editor of the Caledonia Argus.

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