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Kids learn farm safety at R.I.L.E.Y. memorial camp

Kids learn farm safety at R.I.L.E.Y. memorial camp
Community comes together to teach kids farm safety in honor of lost Putnam County student, Riley Sutherlin.

Green shirts with safety messages on the back dotted the Putnam County Fairgrounds as community members put on a day-long safety camp for everyone, particularly kids and teens, to drive home the message of the need to practice safety on the farm and in rural settings.

The day was in memory of Riley Sutherlin, a South Putnam FFA member, also a member of the Putnam County Junior Leaders, who died in a tractor accident one year ago.

The safety training day was an idea brought up by his parents. "We wanted to do something to honor him, and we wanted to raise awareness of the need to practice safety," says Ron Sutherlin, Riley's dad. He was involved in helping organize the community effort.

Green for safety: Ron Sutherlin addresses participants at the R.I.L.E.Y. safety day camp in Putnam County. The camp was held in honor of his son who died in a farm accident.

The North Putnam and South Putnam FFA chapters were also key in making the event happen, as were dozens of adult and teenage volunteers.

Amanda King, South Putnam FFA advisor, says that it was truly a community effort, with everyone coming together to get it done.

More than a dozen safety demonstrations, many made by people coming a long ways to help train kids, taught the message of safety. About 100 people went through the various stations, learning about everything from safety around dogs to why you must respect stored grain.

Related: Farm Safety for Kids: Education and Common Sense

Ernie Sheldon, a safety specialist at Indiana State University and local resident, was also key in helping pull together content for the program. He personally demonstrated the reason why you need to be careful working around PTO-driven equipment, even if the PTO shaft has modern guards.

The local Co-Alliance agronomy and safety teams brought their mobile display that allows them to demonstrate what happens when someone is trapped in grain. A volunteer actually is harnessed inside a small bin, and grain is released into another bin. The flow quickly traps even a large volunteer, rendering him unable to move.

Whether or not this event will be held next year is up in the air, organizers say. Their hope is that it makes a difference for someone who attended this year.

Continued reading: Saving Lives and Limbs: Why Farm Safety Is An Important Cause

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