Online curriculum provides lifesaving training to young farm workers
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN — Young farm workers are more susceptible to harm, says Roger Tormoehlen, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University. For over two decades, he and his colleague, William Field, also a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, have addressed this vital issue with their gearing up for safety curriculum.Completely accessible online and free to download, the comprehensive safety and health training program targets young and beginning agricultural workers ages 12 through 20. It has recently been expanded with funding from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).The program seeks to enhance the quality of life for farm families and those working in agriculture by reducing farm injuries and occupational health risks.To bridge the equity gap for those who may not have internet access, Tormoehlen and Field have distributed the program in flash drive format to all 3,300 extension offices and 10,000 agricultural science teachers in the U.S. The mailing campaign garnered positive feedback and Tormoehlen and Field also travel the country to present their curriculum to agricultural science educators.They hope that all these efforts can provide better preparation for those susceptible to harm while farming while also increasing awareness about agriculture and improving agricultural literacy.Optimized for remote delivery, home school or independent study, the gearing up for safety program contains 20 lessons with additional units in development and 30 professionally produced videos featuring instructors from across the country teaching individual units.Each lesson includes high-quality PowerPoint presentations with extensive instructor notes, student activity sheets, suggested teaching aids, relevant case studies and evaluation materials. Lessons are aligned with agricultural, food and natural resource (AFNR) career cluster content standards along with numerous state educational standards.Tormoehlen says of young farm workers, “They’re excited and want to be involved but may not have the knowledge to be safe. The curriculum really gives them the resources to develop better safety practices."The entire gearing up for safety curriculum including all supporting materials is available for free download at gearingup.info.