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Child ag safety advocate honored by NRHA

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has selected childhood agricultural injury prevention leader Barbara Lee, Ph.D., as the recipient of its 2017 Outstanding Researcher Award.

Dr. Lee is director of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, and interim director of the National Farm Medicine Center, both part of Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Marshfield, Wis. 

Lee and other major award winners were honored May 11 at the NRHA annual conference in San Diego. Although she could not be present, Lee used her acceptance videoto thank NRHA for highlighting childhood agricultural health and safety efforts. She said she was accepting the award on behalf of her researchers and staff, past and present.

Nominating Lee were Brent Miller, director of federal government relations, Marshfield Clinic Health System; and Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D., project scientist, National Farm Medicine Center.

Lee’s experience as an early-career nurse in a rural hospital sparked her passion for agricultural health and safety. She directed development of an action plan, leading to the National Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative, implemented in 1996 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Lee also chaired major efforts establishing voluntary standards for children’s work in agriculture, and for protecting non-working children.

Since 1997, she has directed the NIOSH-funded National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. During that time, the rate of childhood farm-related, non-fatal injuries has declined by nearly 70 percent, an accomplishment described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the top ten public health successes of the last decade.