Safety first: Bayer brings back Ag Safety Day for students

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–With spring weather enticing kids outside, April offers the perfect time for students to learn how to stay safe whether playing in their yard or helping out on the farm. April 21, Bayer hosted its annual Ag Safety Day for all sixth-grade students in Muscatine Community School District.

For two years, COVID-19 school closings and field trip restrictions prevented Bayer from holding its spring Ag Safety Day. However, as conditions improved, they gladly restarted the tradition. “It feels really good to be doing this again,” said Bayer Community Outreach Coordinator Chris Boar.

Over the course of the day, approximately 60 volunteers from Bayer and 30 Muscatine FFA volunteers worked with more than 400 sixth graders. Volunteers were divided into groups so that students could move from station to station to explore different topics.

Inside the Ag Learning Center, volunteers from Bayer gave kids practical advice on how to watch for worn or damaged electrical equipment in their homes as well as a hair-raising look at how electrical charges build up and dissipate using a Van de Graff Generator. Meanwhile, other volunteers talked about tornado safety, giving kids a look at how tornados form using a miniature fire tornado.

Back in the barn, Muscatine FFA junior Becca Potter worked with students on animal safety, showing them how to walk behind a horse without getting kicked, how to handle a horse, and how to tie up a horse so that you can quickly release it in an emergency.

Outside, kids got to participate in a number of safety demonstrations. Volunteers from Bayer let kids try their hands at putting out a fire using a fire extinguisher and discover how much force it takes to pull a person out of a grain bin, highlighting the dangers of entering one.

Representatives from the Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines brought their Fire Safety House trailer back, allowing them to simulate how to safely escape from a smoke-filled room. A highlight of the day for many students, Grant sixth graders Rosie Zorich and Vaughn Parrish shared why they liked this station the most. “It was interesting to learn how to do that properly,” observed Rosie, who explained that the trailer gave kids the chance to try out both staying low to the ground to avoid smoke and how to climb out a window if fire blocks a door.

“I liked learning about fires because it was one of the most interactive things we did today,” Vaughn added.

More volunteers from Bayer helped kids understand the importance of eye and ear safety, going over the different kinds of eye protection used when working with different chemicals and in what situations you should use various types of ear protection. Kids also learned about measuring decibels and got to test how loud they could scream with a decibel meter. Several FFA students talked with the sixth graders about using and staying safe around different kinds of power lawnmowers. A perennially interesting station, students got to use “drunk” goggles while operating pedal cars to see for themselves how drinking or doing drugs can impair reaction time and make driving very dangerous.

A great experience for students, everyone on the trip gained valuable safety knowledge from Bayer Ag Safety Day. “After two years of COVID, it’s good to see them experiencing these hands-on demonstrations we provide them,” stated Boar.

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