Southern Alberta Newspapers
Working to educate youth and farm families across the province on safer practices that help eliminate injuries and deaths, the Farm Safety Centre located in Raymond continues its mission of improving rural safety practices across the prairies.
Serving rural areas for over twenty years, the centre spends its time offering educational programs to a platform of people across Alberta at high-risk of seeing farm-related injuries to themselves or others throughout their lives.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces on farms,” says Laura Nelson, executive director for the farm Safety Centre. “So, our goal is to speak to the younger people about that and awareness and avoidance of this, and then as they grow the message changes to help older persons be more aware of how things work, what they may encounter and also help to prepare people for increased safe involvement on the farm.”
The Farm Safety Centre which was established with a vision to help influence the safety and well-being of all rural individuals with education and training initiatives was incorporated under the societies act of Alberta in 1991 and has worked since to achieve their goal.
Starting with only two staff members, over their years in existence the centre has grown to now have eight instructors, travel the province to conduct over five hundred presentations and speak to up sixty thousand students per year.
With two main programs in place, over the years the centre works to conduct a safety school program that specifically targets younger generations in rural areas who live within close proximity to or on a farm and can benefit from understanding safety, avoidance and preventative methods.
“This current school year is 20th consecutive year that the safety school has been delivered,” says Nelson. “Over the years, we have seen results of students really remembering the safety messages and slogans, with over 90% of parents believing the program was a valuable use of class time and 80% of students talking to their parents about what they learned during the program.”
However, offering these education presentations to schools is not the only audience that the centre reaches with their programs as Nelson also added that over the last four years the organization has been working on a new adult based pilot program.
“Our foundation is educating children but many comments have been made over the years from the families of these children about reaching beyond children to their families with some of these programs so we actually brought to Alberta from Australia a program based around that,” says Nelson.
More information on the Farm Safety Centre, their programs offered and sponsorship can be found on their website at:www.abfarmsafety.com/index.htm
The Sustainable Farm Families program which is currently in its fourth year has been a program similar to the one in place for schools in that it travels across the province to provide safety tips and awareness on dangers surrounding farming, however, this time to an older audience and the response so far has been fantastic says Nelson.
With positive feedback from farmers and family members who believed that the program was a good investment of their time, Nelson also says that many who have attended have said they now feel more aware of current risk factors and how better to improve their own and their families overall safety, and she credits this large success to the instructors the courses themselves.
“The strength of the program rests on the shoulders of the instructors, that’s where the real power comes from because they’re so passionate about it and they’re involved in family farms and are credible.”
With the centre constantly growing, Nelson says that since the organization is non-profit that the need for sponsors and contributors is always an ongoing battle.
With the centre currently seeing close to two hundred contributors from organizations, municipal districts, counties and corporate sponsors,she hopes to see even more support and growth as the popularity of these safety-oriented programs continue to flourish.