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Youth safety on the farm – audio

Cheryl Skjolaas, Extension Agricultural Safety Specialist
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Time – 3:02 minutes

0:17 – Where children and farming meet
0:41 – Tips for farm visit safety
1:10 – Farm family safety issues
2:29 – Where to get farm safety help
2:51 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: More and more children are seen on farms and visiting farms. We’re visiting today with Cheryl Skjolaas with the Wisconsin Center for Ag Safety, University of Wisconsin-Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Madison, Wisconsin and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Talk about the various places where children are going to be interacting with agriculture.

Cheryl Skjolaas: Well there are a ton of places out there from our traditional farms in the state of Wisconsin to a lot of the direct marketing types of places, the recreational farms, pumpkin patch types of things, apple orchards. The chance to experience our Wisconsin agriculture is really great, but it also means that we have to respect those places.

Sevie Kenyon: And do you have some tips?

Cheryl Skjolaas: Talk to the family, who you are going to visit. Where are the safe places to play? What they allow as their safety rules. And even if you are going out to a direct marketing place, they might have animals; respecting their boundaries that are often put up as fences. So start with asking those families in those places that you’re visiting what you can and can’t do there.

Sevie Kenyon: Producers also are raising families out there and it sounds like they have some things in common with the visitors.

Cheryl Skjolaas: Unfortunately, from 1999 to 2008 we had 277 fatalities here in the state of Wisconsin. Thirty-six were kids under the age of 15. In the category of 0-4, very young toddlers, the biggest cause there are those kids are ran over on the farm site, so keeping them in a safe play area so that that tractor operator, that truck operator isn’t having to watch out for them. As they get to that 5 to 9 years of age they might be interacting with animals and not realizing the size difference. Or they’re crawling up on gates and the gate might fall down on them. So just looking at that farmstead then for that age category. And then we get to those 10 to 15 year olds “I want to drive.” As we start driving and operating that equipment there’s a lot of things to be thinking about. They may be able to reach the pedals, steer the steering wheel, but the problem is – do they have the mental ability to think through when something goes wrong. Taking time for safety, and with your kids on those farms when they’re growing up, being sure to explain the safety and looking for those hazards on the farm.

Sevie Kenyon: Is there anything along the way of a program or help or assistance for producers looking to make their farms more children friendly?

Cheryl Skjolaas: The National Children’s Center, part of the National Farm Medicine Center with the Marshfield Clinic has a great publication on safe play areas on the farm. With UW-Extension, we have a farmstead safety review that you can take the checklist and look at your place for different safety hazards. We also do a number of day camps in counties throughout the area.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Cheryl Skjolaas, Wisconsin Center for Ag Safety, University of Wisconsin-Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Madison, Wisconsin and I’m Sevie Kenyon.