Youngblut Ag plants the seeds of safety

DG Elementary students learn how to stay safe on the farm

Youngblut Ag’s Garrett Princehouse, center back, explains how to stay safe around a crop sprayer to DG Elementary students in Sherry Parker’s second-grade class last week Thursday in Dysart as part of farm safety week. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

DYSART – In a rural, agrarian community like Dysart where the local elementary school’s playground is dedicated to two area youngsters who tragically lost their lives in separate farming accidents, planting the seeds of farm safety couldn’t be more important.

National Farm Safety and Health Week – an initiative of the National Safety Council celebrated annually the third week in September – took place this year Sept. 17-23.

And following the official weeklong observance, Youngblut Ag located on the northeast side of Dysart partnered last Thursday with Tama County ISU Extension and Outreach for the second year running to host DG Elementary students in an effort to further promote safety on the farm through teachable moments.

Nearly 200 students from kindergarten through fifth grade rotated among three different presentations while visiting the business. Demonstrations were provided by Tama County Youth Coordinator Jenny Hulme on animal safety, by Youngblut Ag’s precision ag technician Garrett Princehouse on farm chemical safety, and by Youngblut Ag owners Pete and Cassidy Youngblut on fire safety around combines.

The morning of Sept. 28 began with DG’s second and third-grade classes taking their turn on the field trip.

Youngblut Ag’s Cassidy Youngblut, right, smiles while welcoming a group of second and third-grade students from DG Elementary as part of farm safety week. This is the second year the ag implement dealer has hosted the field trip. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

During Princehouse’s first presentation of the morning it quickly became apparent how important such field trips can be when Mrs. Parker’s second-grade class was asked to raise their hands to show how many of them currently live on a working farm. More than a dozen hands – almost half the class – popped up.

When asked how many students have grandparents who farm, nearly all the students raised their hands.

“When my dad’s spraying [a field], I have to stay back,” one second-grade student told Princehouse.

“I know another safety thing, never eat the seeds,” another student added in reference to the fact most crop seeds nowadays are coated in insecticides or fungicides.

“We’re up in prime seed corn area [in Tama County],” Princehouse told the class at one point. “The beans that we grow around here are not like the baked beans and green beans that we eat.”

Third graders in Michelle Keegan’s third-grade class pictured beside a combine at Youngblut Ag on Thursday, Sept. 28 as part of DG Elementry’s annual farm safety field trip. Owner Pete Youngblut, left, is also pictured as he speaks about fire safety. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Farm safety week, as it’s colloquially known, has been observed by every sitting U.S. president since 1944 when Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office, according to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS).

The most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that agriculture continues to be the most dangerous sector of America’s economy with 453 fatalities in 2021. And fall harvest is often the busiest and most dangerous season for the industry.

“It is so important to teach the kids, especially in rural Iowa, how to stay safe as we go into harvest – and just in general when it comes to farming and equipment,” Cassidy Youngblut told the Telegraph.

“There’s farming accidents involving children each year in Iowa and it’s heartbreaking – so we take a lot of care to make sure we’re teaching the kids in a way that makes sense to them, and in a way they’ll remember.”

For more information about farm safety programs, contact Iowa State University Extension and Outreach County Youth Coordinator Jenny Hulme at jhulme@iastate.edu or 641-484-2703.

Students in Sherry Parker’s second-grade class assemble for a group photo in front of a crop sprayer at Youngblut Ag on Thursday, Sept. 28 as part of DG Elementary’s farm safety field trip day. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER


A trio of DG Elementary students in Kelsi Stoner’s third-grade class try to stifle giggles while listening to County Youth Coordinator Jenny Hulme discuss how best to respond to farm animals while staying safe. Such tips included paying attention to the position of an animal’s ears. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Jenny Hulme, County Youth Coordinator with Tama County Extension and Outreach, speaks to DG Elementary students at Youngblut Ag last Thursday as part of National Farm Safety and Health Week. Hulme addressed being safe around farm animals including what to wear and what not to wear on your feet. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER