“Protecting America’s Future” was the theme for the 2022 National Farm Safety and Health Week, and Clemson University is helping South Carolina high school students learn about agricultural safety.

National Farm Safety and Health Week was Sept. 18-24. The Clemson Agricultural Safety Program recently held an Ag Safety Day at the Piedmont Research and Education Center’s Simpson Research Farm in Pendleton for more than 250 students, teachers and volunteers. Hunter Massey, principal lecturer for the Clemson College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Agricultural Sciences Department, coordinated the event.

“For many students, I expect that this was the first time they have been exposed to some of this information,” Massey said. “Many people took time to participate in this event and share their knowledge and experiences about agricultural safety. Without question, students who participated learned a great deal about this important topic.”

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Stations related to agricultural safety were set up around the farm. Students learned about safety topics related to working on a farm, or other tasks such as mowing a lawn. Topics included hazard identification, equipment operation, ATV/UTV safety, power tool safety, tractor safety, grain bin safety, safe load, pesticide safety and electrical safety.

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Complements class work

Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports farmers are at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. In addition, farming is one of the few industries in which family members also are at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries.

Teacher Deion Latimer brought a group of Belton-Honea Path High School agricultural sciences students to the event. He believes information from the Ag Safety Day will be valuable when students learn about tractor and equipment safety operations in his class.

“Agricultural safety is very important,” Latimer said. “We live in a very rural area. Some of our students live on farms and activities such as this helps broaden their horizons and better understand how to safely perform farming operations such as driving tractors, working around grain bins and so on.”

Belton-Honea Path High School sophomore Ty Parnell enjoyed the experiential learning format of the activities.

“My favorite event was driving the tractors,” Parnell said. “I enjoyed it because it was more of a hands-on exercise. I learned how to maneuver the tractor and I also learned how to properly turn it on and turn it off, as well as use the brakes and other accessories. I like tractors. I think they’re pretty cool.”

Emily Rodman from the S.C. Governor’s School for Agriculture was especially interested in learning about hauling materials on trailers.

“I learned about how to properly and legally secure items being hauled on trailers,” Rodman said. “Knowing this and other safety procedures is important because agriculture is a very dangerous industry, especially when you’re dealing with heavy machinery every day. Anything can happen.”

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‘Everyone benefits’

Shelley Lovern is a Clemson master’s student in agricultural systems management with an emphasis in ag safety from Fort Lawn. Lovern helped plan and coordinate the Safety Day events.

“We reached out to several companies, organizations and people so that we could provide a variety of information for this event,” Lovern said. “Ag safety affects everyone. When people wake up in the morning, put on clothes and eat breakfast, they have been touched by agriculture. We have farmers who are involved in agricultural incidents every single day trying to keep us clothed and fed. Losing just one farmer is a big issue.

“Everyone benefits from knowing about ag safety.”

Lovern said they had the largest number of students participate, making the 2022 Ag Safety Day at Clemson’s Simpson Research Farm a success.

Representatives from the following organizations presented information during the field day included:

  • South Greenville Fire Department Task Force 6, grain bin safety.
  • Blue Ridge Electric Coop, electrical safety.
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension Service.
  • Clemson Piedmont REC, Simpson Research Farm, safe tractor operations.
  • Clemson Agricultural Mechanization and Business program, agricultural mechanization (cutaway tractor).
  • Cayden Gates, 2021 South Carolina Future Farmers of America president, safe mower operations.
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Ag Pro Companies donated equipment used during the day.

A second 2022 Ag Safety Day will be held Sept. 30 at the Sandhill REC near Columbia, South Carolina.

The Ag Safety Program is part of Clemson’s Department of Agricultural Sciences. This program uses experiential learning to teach about agricultural safety to youth ages 14-18. Topics covered by the program include tractor and equipment maintenance and operation, roll-overprotective structures, power hand-tools, pesticides, electrical systems, lawn mower maintenance and operation, grain handling equipment and structures, safe loading procedures, hazard identification, and all-terrain/utility task vehicles. For information, read the Agricultural Safety blog.

Denise Attaway reports for Public Service and Agriculture in the Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

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