April 19 2024 09:06 AM

    A group of FFA members created awareness for rural safety in the wake of an accident.

    Too often we hear of horrible accidents involving farm equipment, most of which could have been avoided. It is easy to forget that farm equipment cannot go the same speed as vehicles on the road, and most max out at a speed of 30 miles per hour on the highway. Often drivers who are frustrated and impatient pass these machines in risky areas on the road, including no passing zones, or when they are turning into a field drive. As we transition into more comfortable temperatures, this means that more people will be out on the roads. This also means that farmer’s will be heading out to the fields for spring tillage, planting, and manure application.

    On June 7, 2022, a farming tragedy occurred involving a semitruck and a tractor, which resulted in the loss of Tom Kren, a very well-respected farmer who was well known in my community. Carla Byrne, the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor in Neillsville, Wis., happened to be on her way back from the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. This conference is put on by the National FFA Organization to help students grow their leadership skillset and return to their communities with a service project in mind.

    With the recent tragedy that shook our small farming community, Byrne and her students wanted to develop a service project that would focus primarily on farm road safety. It didn’t take students long to develop the very fitting acronym F.A.M.I.L.Y., which stands for “Farmers Are Moving I will Look and Yield”.

    The point of this project is to create awareness that the person driving each of these tractors is someone’s family member. Whether it be a son, daughter, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or parent, each person means something in the life of another. To promote farm road safety, these FFA members took it upon themselves to create a design to print on yard signs and stickers with the acronym F.A.M.I.L.Y. on it, in exchange for a free will donation. The goal was to raise enough funds to put their design on a billboard. In no time the monetary goal was met, and a billboard sporting the F.A.M.I.L.Y. logo was displayed just outside of Neillsville, Wis.

    If you glance around my hometown today, you will notice that many people still display these signs in their yard or on their vehicles as they drive around town. The Neillsville FFA continues to promote farm road safety by hosting a “Drive your tractor to school day” each spring, in which FFA members have the opportunity drive their own farm equipment to school. Each tractor that takes part in this event also showcases a F.A.M.I.L.Y sign on it to encourage all to be more aware of moving farm equipment on the road this time of year.

    Standing next to one of Kren’s tractors, FFA members proudly display a F.A.M.I.L.Y. sign.

    As the weather gets warmer, tractors will start to make their way into the fields. Although nobody wants to be late to their destination, a few moments of patience could potentially save someone’s life. Let this be a reminder to take a few extra seconds to slow down this planting season. I am sure that I can speak for the majority us when I say that at the end of the day, our main goal is to make it home safely to the ones we love. I can guarantee you that the person you see in the tractor has a family and friends they would also like to make it home to.

    Jenna Byrne

    Jenna Byrne is an associate editor for Hoard’s Dairyman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2022, majoring in agricultural business with an emphasis in communications and marketing. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm near Neillsville, Wis.