A new tool for farm safety education will be rolling into communities across Alberta this fall.
Agriculture for Life (Ag for Life) is developing a mobile farm and rural safety unit to help bring farm safety education across Alberta. Construction of the mobile unit began in January of this year, and Ag for Life intends to have the unit completed and ready to travel across the province this fall.
“Ag for Life’s goal is to educate and promote safety on farms and ranches to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur,” says Luree Williamson, CEO of Ag for Life. “The mobile unit is an innovative way to reach more Albertans living in rural communities with safety messaging.”
The main audiences for the mobile unit are students from Grades 4 to 12 and farm families. The unit will visit schools, agricultural events, rodeos, exhibitions and festivals across Alberta. Along the way, it will feature a variety of safety risks faced on the farm like large equipment, water, grain, overhead powerlines and underground infrastructure, and will provide educational information about preventing potential hazards.
“The unit is going to have some flexibility in terms of the content, which will be fantastic,” says Williamson. “The unit’s content can be tailored to meet the needs of various audiences and can be expanded as we continue to grow.”
Co-operation Leads to Progress
Williamson says the mobile safety unit signifies a new era of co-operation from numerous stakeholders when it comes to promoting farm safety.
There’s great potential for many different stakeholders to come together, and make more progress for farm safety than what any of us could accomplish alone.
“It really represents a collaboration between the non-profits, our sponsors and the agriculture community in general. It shows that we all stand behind our dedication to farm safety, and I’m proud we’re working together to keep farm families safe,” she says.
The program’s main sponsor, Agrium Inc., donated $650,000 in capital funding toward the project, allowing the vision of the mobile unit to come to life.
“We’re happy to do anything we can to advance farm safety,” says Doug Beever, senior director of sustainability and stakeholder relations at Agrium. “We have experience with mobile trailers from our Seed Survivor program, so we’ve seen how effective mobile units can be at bringing good, educational programming into rural communities. When we had the opportunity to donate to this project, we knew it would be a great use of the money.”
The opportunity for collaboration between multiple stakeholders is one of the key factors that attracted Agrium to the project.
“At Agrium, we love shared-value partnerships between industry members, government, non-profits and more, and Ag for Life does a great job of bringing these people together,” says Beever. “With the mobile unit, there’s great potential for many different stakeholders to come together and make more progress for farm safety than what any of us could accomplish alone.”
Bringing Safety to You
The unit’s mobility is its greatest strength, and Ag for Life encourages agri-retailers across Alberta to take full advantage of the unit by having it visit their communities.
“We would love to talk with agri-retailers about hosting the mobile safety unit at an event, or even just in their area,” says Williamson. “Bringing the mobile unit to their community would be a great way for agri-retailers to show their commitment to farm safety and have a tangible impact on safety education in their communities.”
Beever stresses that by arranging to have the mobile unit visit their communities, retailers can have a positive impact on kids in the area.
“We can go into communities that wouldn’t necessarily have had access to this kind of programming before – communities that are nowhere near urban centres,” he says. “It’s going to be great for kids because of the hands-on element. The kids can interact with it and ask questions. People tend to learn more when they can interact with the subject firsthand.”
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