Hitting The Road With The Farm Safety Message – for Aug. 2, 2010

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Total kilometres: 144,149. That’s how far seven UFA Safety Smarts instructors drove in taking their message to 52,420 students in 2,620 rural classrooms in 2009-2010.

Laura Nelson of Raymond, executive director of the Alberta Farm Safety Centre which launched the Safety Smarts classroom program in southern Alberta 12 years ago, said the instructors worked their own regions across the province, visiting 305 or 63 per cent of rural public schools and 163 or 92 per cent of Hutterite Colony schools.

Nelson said the goal is to educate children about the dangers in agriculture and living in rural Alberta. It’s hoped that the message will be carried through to their

A third edition of the centre’s seven take-home activity booklets were provided to each student to spark discussion with parents and siblings.

parents and be instilled in the children throughout their lives even if they choose to live and work in an urban setting.

To help that happen, a third edition of the centre’s seven take-home activity booklets were provided to each student to spark discussion with parents and siblings.

Nelson said the UFA program includes age-appropriate, hands-on, interactive safety lessons to raise the awareness of the potential hazards on the average family farm. It is designed to teach safe responses to all hazards.

The program has changed over the years, said Nelson. In 2005, it was made available to schools in the southern half of Alberta. It went province-wide in 2008. She said the program is well received by teachers. More than 1,700 teachers responded to an evaluation form, and 95 per cent rated it excellent for program content and delivery.

The safety centre offers the safety smarts program to all rural schools in Alberta free, creating a funding problem. Nelson said federal and provincial grants are essential to safety smarts program development and delivery by the instructors. She said corporate funding and money from other sectors has been increasing to relieve some of the financial crunch.

The major sponsors besides UFA include ConcocoPhillips Canada, Rural Alberta’s development fund, Alberta Agriculture, Pioneer Hi-Bred Canada and Monsanto Canada.

Fifteen municipalities, including the counties of Newell, Warner and Vulcan in southern Alberta, and 38 agricultural societies.

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The goal is to educate children about the dangers in agriculture and living in rural Alberta.

LAURA NELSON

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ALBERTA FARM SAFETY CENTRE

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