Written by Morgan Zumpfe, 2014 Nebraska Outreach Coordinator
My Farm Safety Journey started 19 years ago. I grew up as a rambunctious farm kid with two younger siblings. We were always exploring and trying new things. During these explorations and helping on the farm, I can distinctly remember being told, “Don’t run across cornstalks, you will bust an ankle” or “Stay away from that PTO shaft” or “Always have an escape plan” (when working cattle).
My parents reinforced their messages by taking my siblings and I to the annual Crete, Nebraska Farm Safety Day. We loved this day and looked forward to it every year. We became experts at the interactive “look-a-like” Chemical Safety game- so much so that we were told that we had to stop answering questions in order for our peers to get a chance! Our favorite event was the “Mock Accident.” This was always at the end of the hot, summer day when we would sit outside, enjoy an ice cream treat, and watch what happens when an accident occurs. The announcer would talk us through everything that the parties involved had done wrong. The people in the accident would then have to call 911, and the rescue squad would come load up the injured people. This was a fun activity since we knew everyone was safe, but it also made us kids think seriously about the consequences of throwing safety out of the window.
As I got too old to be a camper, I still found a way to be involved by becoming a group leader. Each year, I got a reminder on Sun Safety, ATV Safety, Electricity Safety, Road Safety, etc. and loved getting to know all of the kids.
However, as I grew up, I became distant from the whole “Farm Safety lessons.” I was involved in all of the activities that high school brings, and was too busy to help out at the Safety Day.
I graduated and became a freshman in college when Farm Safety decided to walk back into my life. Last fall, I was at an agricultural leadership conference in Kansas City (Agricultural Futures of America), when I saw the Farm Safety For Just Kids booth. I decided that it would be a good idea to have a conversation with them and explain how much of an impact the organization had had on my life. This is when I learned about the position of Outreach Coordinator. I immediately decided that this part-time position would be an awesome fit for me, where I could re-live some of my childhood memories and possibly be able to make an impact on children’s lives.
This position has been nothing but rewarding. My task is to complete 20 different Farm Safety events and 4 different media events during the year. So far, I have helped at multiple Safety Days where I have done anything from teach Horse Safety to Sun Safety and anything in between. I am looking forward to being able to talk to kids at the State Fair and Husker Harvest Days this fall. Throughout this job, I have learned even more about being safe and have had time to reflect on my childhood. I was lucky enough to have parents that cared and taught me how to be safe on the farm and took me to Farm Safety Day. What about our kids that aren’t as lucky or aren’t old enough to knew better? My goal as Outreach Coordinator is to reach out to those kids. I want to ensure that each event that I go to is as fun, yet educational as it can possibly be. Hopefully my involvement in this organization will make a difference. One life spared makes everything worth it.
My Farm Safety Journey is not over. It will continue through my Outreach Coordinator position, and into my future career in the agricultural industry, and even further into my future children’s lives when I will do my best to teach them the invaluable “Don’t run across cornstalks” and “Stay away from PTO’s” lessons that I was given as a kid.