Planning a farm safety webinar for children was not something I thought I would ever be doing, but hey that’s 2020 for ya ... a year of firsts (and hopefully never agains)!
To date, AgriKids has built a strong following with its school and class-based workshops.
Being able to stand in person in front of a room of exceptionally enthusiastic children as we talk about slurry, signage, animal behaviours as well as tractors (always a hot and contentious topic when brand names are included – Fear the Deere, Massey is Classey, She won’t do if she’s Blue, I have heard them all).
For the animal piece, I included animal masks which always made the topic more fun and spontaneous. Two poor unfortunates, plucked from the masses would don a bull or horse mask and play the role of ‘cranky bull’ or demonstrating the blind spots and kick zones of horses.
So how could something that was so engaging and involved so much audience participation translate to a 2D, screen and slideshow presentation?
Thankfully it can be. In fact what has been a silver lining in a pretty dark cloud was how quickly we, as a society adapted and used new technologies to work, play and learn.
What’s more, audiences and participators were largely forgiving to those brave souls who tried these new methods of service delivery and in most times were encouraging and positive.
To date, under this new regime, AgriKids has delivered 13 webinars to over 4,000 children. Normally, over a given month I would drive to schools and events nationwide delivering workshops and in doing so could expect to reach close to 2,000 children and easily exceed 3,000km. This new way could be a better way!
So when I was asked to run an event as part of the Irish Examiner’s Farm Month, I was keen to include as many of the original ‘crowd pleasers’ and to be sure it was an event both schools and homes would benefit from.
The free children’s event kicks off with the Farm Visit Checklist, (a.k.a. ‘What to know before you go’) which reminds children of key things they can readily do ahead of visiting a farm.
Along the way, children are taught to recognise and understand the warning signs they may see, as well as recognising key warning signs or behaviours in animals, all of which are important skills to teach and equip children with.
I am still able to use certain props, e.g. Fizzy drinks and a balloon (say no more), to get the points across and I make sure to include real images where possible to ensure the event is relevant. I always like to use a combination of real-life imagery as well as illustrations when it comes to the farm safety message.
I feel this way we are connecting with the children without overtly diluting the seriousness of the message.
It may be sometime before I am able to visit a school in person, but if I can still virtually meet the children and engage with them on the topic of farm safety than that will be a valuable opportunity not taken from us by Covid.