2012 marks the 25th anniversary of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK). The organization has promoted farm safety to more than 6 million people through local programs and education since 1987. Over the past 25 years, FS4JK has established a network of more than 120 chapters across the United States and Canada that offer farm safety presentations on a local level. In that time, 35,600 volunteers donated 280,000 hours of their time to help promote safety on the farm.
Marilyn Adams founded the non-profit organization in 1987 after the death of her 11-year-old son in a gravity flow grain wagon accident. Its mission is to promote a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries and fatalities to children and youth. What started as a tribute to her son has touched nearly 6 million people so far.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I started FS4JK,” Adams said. “The organization has grown and evolved so much in the past 25 years. It’s exciting to think about what lies ahead for the farm safety movement.”
FS4JK focuses on prevention through education. The organization has created a spectrum of nearly 100 educational resources on a variety of farm safety related topics. All resources are available to the public via an online catalog.
“Our goal is to teach the next generation of farmers to be safe,” said Shari Burgus, education director. “The entire industry depends on it.”
Education is paying off. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, from 1998 to 2009 the rate of all farm youth injuries has decreased by 59%. FS4JK was specifically mentioned as a contributing factor to the decline. Additional influences included other organizations, governmental agencies, educational institutions and private corporations.
FS4JK utilizes a system of local outreach chapters to spread farm safety education throughout the country. Amy Rademaker, an outreach coordinator in Illinois, expressed how being a part of FS4JK has impacted her life.
“I grew up in a farm family. Being a part of this organization has changed the way I look at what we did growing up on the farm,” Rademaker said. “I think FS4JK has made me think of how things will be different for my son in a farm environment. It’s about finding a balance while still honoring family and tradition.”
Corporate sponsors and individual donors fund FS4JK. Current projects include overhauling the current ATV safety packet, plus working with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health to research how safety needs are impacted in the changing demographics of agriculture as small, part-time farms are on the rise.
“We’re excited to step back and recognize our past success and the tremendous support we’ve seen from sponsors over the past 25 years that has helped us with our mission,” said Dave Schweitz, FS4JK executive director. “It’s a true testament to the importance of the farm safety movement and their dedication to their customers and agriculture. We look forward to building on those partnerships as we continue to build the organization.”
For more information on farm safety, or to learn how to start a chapter, visit www.fs4jk.org.