FFA Members Teaming Up to Take Precaution During Farmers Union Team Up For Safety Quiz Bowl

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Anyone who has lived on a farm or ranch has heard the stories. An injury from a grain auger. An accidental fire or deadly gas exposure. Some of us have seen tragedy first hand. There's nothing fun about these realities, but South Dakota Farmers Union is taking a fun approach to helping prevent them.

Each year, the Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl challenges high school students from South Dakota FFA chapters to compete in a game show format with questions such as: What kind of fire extinguisher should you keep in a combine? What does Hydrogen Sulfide smell like? Or, What is the leading cause of weather related deaths?

South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director, Rachel Haigh-Blume says, "Anything you can do to promote safety to the next generation is so important. You can't emphasize it enough, no matter the age."

Hundreds of people are hurt or killed on farms and ranches each year. Accidents are highest among youth who are inexperienced and among older experienced operators who may be used to their common routine. Rural safety is a unique challenge because family members - no matter the age - share in the work. And the workplace is also where they live.

"For most of us in South Dakota, we like to think we're pretty in tune with what's going on around us," says Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union President. "But life moves pretty fast and it's easy to take little things for granted. It could be something as simple as just taking the time to read labels on chemicals or applications and making sure you don't harm yourself or your livestock."

On April 24, 19 High school teams competed at this year's FFA State Convention. Winning teams from from Tri-Valley, Sunshine Bible Academy, Wolsey/Wessington and Viborg/Hurley high schools will go on to compete for cash prizes during the South Dakota State Fair.

 Tri-Valley Senior, Levi Burggraff farms and ranches with his family in Colton. "You need to know what you're doing on a farm, because it's dangerous," says Burggraff. "You can't be horsing around cattle or machinery. I want to keep things calm...and keep all my limbs." On participating, he adds, "You have to have fun with it and you have to learn something."

 Samantha Olson, a sophomore at Aberdeen Roncalli, spends time on her grandpa's farm and lives just outside Aberdeen. She offers insight on the importance of bringing rural youth and city youth together on farm safety. "City kids may think they never need to use this. But safety pertains to everyone," says Olson. Other valuable lessons are learned from competition too. "It's great to go head-to-head with another team and work with your teammates...but it's also great to get out there and learn different things about each other's backgrounds."

Safety is the goal. But building community is another outcome. "The quiz bowl really gets them into the competitive spirit, buzzing in on answers and taking pride in their team," says Sombke. "It builds teamwork and really strengthens community spirit."

 Tri-Valley, Sunshine Bible Academy, Wolsey/Wessington and Viborg/Hurley winners will compete on September 2, 2017 on the South Dakota State Fair Freedom Stage during Farmers Union Day at the South Dakota State Fair.

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