CASSTOWN — As the crops turn from green to gold, Miami East High School FFA members are urging fellow students and their community to begin thinking about farm safety.
Throughout last week, FFA students participated in a variety of activities to raise awareness in honor of National Farm Safety Week.
On Thursday afternoon, FFA members conducted their annual Farm Safety Education sessions with the second grade students. The FFA members had special sessions and wrote their own lesson plans to teach approximately 100 children the importance of grain safety, equipment safety, animal and chemical safety practices in and around their homes and farms.
According to the Ohio State University extension office’s agricultural safety statistics, 29 children age 20 years or younger have been killed in a farm-related accident since 2003.
Junior Liza Bair helped teach the animal safety session. Her group’s lesson plan included proper footwear around animals, horse riding safety and wearing a helmet and how to properly approach animals.
“We wrote our own lesson plans and we’ll ask them some true and false questions,” Bair said. “It’s nice to get outside and be around younger kids.”
Abbey Koontz, a junior, said she enjoys teaching children about animal safety and her love of horses.
“I like teaching the kids about horses and I love spending time with kids outside and hopefully they’ll remember some of this stuff,” she said.
Tyler Heckman, a junior, brought in a pair of flip-flops which didn’t fare so well when he was in the barns.
“That’s to show them what not to wear,” he said.
Brookelyn Hermann said, while some of the safety lessons are common sense, it doesn’t hurt to remind children what they should and should not do around animals.
“We all know the safety and how to be cautious, but sometimes you take it for granted and this is just a reminder to stay safe,” she said.
FFA students drove their tractors to school on Wednesday as a visible reminder to share the roads with farmers.
Of the 168 farm fatalities in Ohio from 2004-2013, 75 were tractor-related, according to Ohio State University’s extension office Ag Safety data. Of those fatalities, 67 percent were caused by roll-overs.
During harvest season, large combines and grain haulers and other slow moving vehicles are on the roadways.
A slow-moving vehicle like a combine or a dual-wheel tractor is typically wider than one lane of a two-lane road. Farmers often have to take that equipment out on public roads to move it from field to field.
State law requires tractors and other equipment that travels 25 mph or slower to be marked with the triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem when being operated on public roads. Many farmers also use flashing amber lights, reflective decals and escort vehicles to alert approaching drivers.
FFA Adviser and Agriculture teacher Marie Carity said the Miami County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rich Manns took drone footage of the students driving into school, which was later shared by RFTV on Twitter.
On Monday, senior FFA members stopped their fellow classmates to see if they were wearing seat belts and were awarded “smarties” candy if they were or a “DummDumm” sucker if they weren’t. Nine out of 10 drivers were buckled in during the seat belt check.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews