Agricultural production is among the industries with the highest rates of work-related injuries and deaths. Furthermore, this industry is unique in the high level of participation of children and adolescents. Children and youth are exposed to agricultural hazards in their work and play activities, as well as in observational roles during adult work. In response to this risk, farm safety day camps are offered in hundreds of communities across the country as a format for teaching children to use safe methods of play and age-appropriate work on farms and ranches. These camps generally take the form of one-day community-wide events or one-day programs conducted through schools. They offer lessons covering a variety of rural and agricultural safety issues. A number of organizations sponsor these events; one of the largest programs, offering several hundred camps throughout the nation, is organized by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation. The purpose of this project was to conduct an evaluation of this program, the Progressive Farmer Farm Safety Day Camp@ Program. Multiple data sources and methods were used to gather information relevant to process evaluation, outcome evaluation, and measures of impact. These sources included the camp coordinators who organized the camps, adult volunteers who helped with the camps, children ages 8-13 attending the camps, a comparison group of non-campers, a parent of the camper and non-camper participants, and onsite observations of a small number of camps. There were 253 camps eligible to participate in the study, and data were received from the coordinators for 228 of these camps, while volunteer questionnaires were received from 214 of the camps. Twenty-eight of these camps were selected as sources of camper data. In these camps the participants completed a written pre-test and post-test, and then a sample of campers was called for a three-month and a one-year follow-up interview. A comparison group of non-campers was recruited for a pre-test, three-month follow-up, and one-year follow-up interview. During the interviews, a parent of the target child was also interviewed. Six of the 28 camps were selected for onsite observation by one of the research team members. Recruiting and retaining the non-camper comparison participants was more difficult than anticipated, and this part of the data collection is not yet completed. Results analyzed to this point show a significant increase in knowledge and safe behaviors for the camp participants on the three-month and one-year follow-up interviews in comparison to the pre-test responses. An analysis of knowledge scores for each age group in the sample shows that the effect is similar regardless of age. Furthermore, three months after the camp, half the parents report there has been some safety-related change in their child's behavior. It appears that camp participation does have an effect 'on safety awareness and behavior in children. However, additional data from non-campers are needed to complete this study, and replications of this study are necessary, before determining with greater certainty how much impact this one-time educational intervention has. The data also indicate that the indirect benefits of a farm safety camp in a community include enhanced safety awareness of the wider community as children and adult volunteers disseminate the information they learned, as well as enhanced community strength and cohesiveness resulting from the cooperation of many individuals and organizations in achieving a common goal.
Debra Moehle McCallum, The University of Alabama, Institute for Social Science Research, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487