This project is an educational intervention aimed at delivering agricultural safety information to Mennonite youth, grades one to eight, in their one-room schoolhouses. The purpose of this intervention is to reduce agricultural injuries and fatalities in the Groffdale Conference, an Old Order Mennonite community located in Yates County, New York.
Using the community participatory research model, NYCAMH assisted concerned community members to create a culturally appropriate farm safety presentation for Mennonite children. The educational program is delivered over a three year cycle to the 31 schools in the Groffdale Conference. Approximately a third of the schools receive the program each year. The program is delivered by members of the Yates County Farm Safety in Schools Committee. It is approximately an hour in length and utilizes a 20 page flip chart and interactive presentations. A graphically based pre-post evaluation was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Each year, half of the participating schools were randomly chosen to receive a pre-evaluation and the remaining schools were given the post-evaluation. Additionally, NYCAMH safety educators and the committee members have conducted follow-up qualitative evaluations with each school one year after receiving the program.
As of spring, 2011, over 1000 school children have received this farm safety training. Pre/post testing results are mixed. Comparison of the pre-post evaluations from the first year of trainings showed statistically significantly higher scores in the post evaluation group indicating some knowledge gain. In 2010, the program was delivered to 266 students in ten schools. There was no statistical difference between the pre-post scores with this group of students. The third year of this program was delivered in January and February 2011 to the remaining ten Groffdale Conference schools. Results of the follow-up evaluation conducted with seven of the first year schools showed that most students remembered the program from the previous year and reported talking about the program with their parents. Significant changes to farm practices such as installing PTO shield guards, disallowance of extra riders and additions of fences around manure pit have been reported by the school children.
A vital aspect of this approach is that members of the Old Order community are the educators who are delivering the information in a culturally appropriate and accepted manner. As an outside organization, it is highly unlikely that NYCAMH would have access to this population to directly deliver youth farm safety education.