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Area fourth graders get lessons in farm safety

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Lt. Travis Maloney of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department talks to Triton Central fourth graders about Stranger Danger during Tuesday morning’s Farm Safety Day.
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Waldron fourth graders play Toxic Free BINGO at the household hazardous waste station.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

“Stranger danger!”

“No! I don’t know you!”

Those statements were belted out by Lt. Travis Maloney of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, and were repeated by a contingent of fourth-grade students from across Shelby County throughout the day on Tuesday.

The statements were repeated throughout the day at the Indiana Grand Racing and Casino Trackside facility during the 12th annual Progressive Agriculture Farm Safety Day.

The day is an opportunity for fourth graders to learn safety tips through a variety of stations around the facility, such as grain safety, fire safety, household hazardous waste and a station called “Home Alone,” which discusses social media safety.

“What we try do is give them an awareness level of the things they may encounter living in Shelby County,” said Scott Gabbard, the Ag and Natural Resources educator and Shelby County Extension Director for Purdue Extension. “These are all kids that, it’s right at the crossroad of young adulthood to where they’re being confronted with situations where normally their parents would keep them away from or don’t have access to. We’re trying to make them aware of the various things that are out there so they make the right decision, or at least hopefully the safe decision.”

Students went from station to station and listened as various presenters told them about the dangers of combines and lawn equipment. The household hazardous waste station included a game of toxic free BINGO, in which the winning students were required to fill all of their spots.

Gabbard said fourth-graders are within the age range of children most at risk because it’s around that time that they can touch pedals on farming and lawn equipment.

Maloney and Major Louie Koch told students about the dangers of social media, explaining to them that bad people can learn more details about them by tricking them into answering their questions.

And students were also reminded of the importance of knowing their home address and providing relevant information to a 911 operator if their house is on fire.

“These are innocent kids, Gabbard said. “We try to toughen them up too, maybe.”

The four county schools, along with St. Joseph School, attended Tuesday’s session. On Thursday, the three Shelbyville elementary schools will get their turns.

Gabbard said organizers considered adding an ATV safety station this year but were unable to decide which topic would be replaced. Topics are occasionally replaced, he said, noting they’ve done ATV and gun safety in the past, as well as blind spot detection.

“It’s a pretty good representation of the things these kids are going to come into contact at their age,” he said. “I’m always open to ideas.”