Wednesday, October 30, 2019

ME. The Poster Child For What NOT To Do

If you are a regular reader, you’ve noticed the focus of my blog this month has been on my late husband Tom. He died on October 29, 2014.  Five years. Unreal. So please bear with me for one more story. It is as much mine as it is his.

I come from a long line of farmers. As a child, I lived on a farm and now I am blessed to live in a house built on a piece of my grandparent’s farm. Tom grew up in Florida. His family raised a few animals but farming wasn’t ingrained in them as it was in my family. 

When Tom started working for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), his research focus was on preventing musculoskeletal disorders. His inquiries eventually led him to the area of farm safety. He was particularly interested in safety for children and adolescents working in agriculture.

I was pretty excited. Finally, Tom was speaking my vocabulary. I even forked over the money to attend a farm safety conference with him. I learned quite a bit at the conference. 

Mostly, I learned that I could have been the poster child for what not to do

Seriously. I remember helping my dad by “driving” the truck while the men threw bales of hay onto the flatbed of the vehicle. I actually only guided it. Dad had the truck idling fast so it would creep down the field. My job was to peer through the steering wheel and when I saw the trees coming, to pull up with all my strength and throw both feet down on the brake. Dad would then get inside and turn the truck around for me and we’d head back the other direction. I was eight-years-old.

When I was nine, I helped my dad remove fence posts. By then I could actually drive the tractor. I’d back it up to where Dad could put a chain around the post. He’d stand by and wiggle the post and I’d slowly ease out until the post came free. I learned at the conference we could have both been killed.

I thought nothing of running the beams in our three story barn, climbing into the nearly empty silo during a game of hide-and-seek, or sliding down a mountain of corn in the corncrib on a piece of cardboard.

At the conference I learned I was lucky to be alive. I thought nothing of doing those things as a child. To me, the farm was a big playground. But now I was a mother…and a researcher. The statistics on children injured or killed on farms was frightening. One loss was one too many. 

Tom was interested in how children often stress their musculoskeletal frames through lifting, twisting, and such as part o their “chores.” Farming, you see, is for many states, their most hazardous occupation. And children are a big part of it.

I was convinced. Following the conference, I crafted three children’s books centered on safety. One was about tractor safety, one on lifting, and the other on slips, trips, and falls. This was before I retired and decided to become a writer. I wrote these books and shared with my first grade students. A few of them were farm kids.

I’ve considered trying to publish those books to raise money for Tom’s scholarship fund. I need to learn a lot more about publishing children’s books to make that happen. It’s a thought.

Until I hit on that magic formula, I’ve put out a plea to my readers to give to the scholarship fund created to honor Tom and the work he did. The campaign to raise $15,000 is over in October even though your tax deductible gifts can continue to be received for years to come.Thank you to all who have given to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research. 

The online gifts reached over $5000.00 while the mail-in gifts exceeded that. I don’t have the final tally, but I trust the fund will reach the endowed status before the end of the year. Now my hope is that it will be a strong scholarship. One worth each applicant’s time to pursue. 

If you still want to give, CLICK HERE and it will take you to the page. 
If you prefer to mail in your gift, CLICK HERE to download a form to guide you.

Again…Thank You… And Stay Safe.

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