LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Farm Bureau’s Safety Committee’s fourth annual Agriculture Safety Awareness event took place recently at the Southeastern Agricultural Event Center in Lumberton.
The annual event came to fruition back in early 2019, and has been a favorite of students ever since. It is intended for high school students with an interest in agriculture and the outdoors, and this year it drew in nearly 100 students from high schools all across the county.
The concept of the event began with discussions on what could be done to raise awareness of the importance of safety — particularly with young people — on farm equipment, watercrafts, ATVs and other recreational vehicles, citing the tragic death of a Red Springs High School student from an ATV accident in the late spring of 2018.
“Accidents don’t have to happen, and we just want people to stop and think about safety precautions before they get on a lawn mower or a tractor or ATV,” said Patrisse Locklear, chair of the Robeson County Farm Bureau Safety Committee. “If we prevent even just one person from getting hurt with the information we’re providing and with the demonstrations they’ve seen, we’ve accomplished our goal with this event.”
Students were divided into groups and rotated through nine extensive sessions that gave them the opportunity to see how the equipment was properly operated, and safety precautions are taken.
Featured vendors included Quality Farm Equipment,, Lumberton Fire & Rescue, Yamaha of Lumberton, Robeson County Cooperative Extension, the NC Highway Patrol, and the NC Wildlife Commission. The instructors present for the event all hold certifications enabling them to teach equipment safety.
The annual event has become something students and faculty both enjoy, according to organizers.
“It’s an opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and participate in something that can help them both now and in the future,” said Miles Mercer, president of Robeson County Farm Bureau. “Safety is important. If we can prevent an accident by educating these students with what they’re hearing today, it’s a great success. We’re trying to give back to our community, and safety is a huge part of that.
“Farm Bureau is a big supporter of education in our county, agricultural education right at the heart of that. Agriculture is a major industry in our rural county.”
The Public Schools of Robeson County helped sponsor the event by providing substitute teachers and by transporting students to the venue.
Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation also contributed to the event.
“These are great partnerships — the public school system in the county and Lumbee River — the level of support for these students, this event, it is amazing here. We appreciate everyone so much that was able to help make this event a success because at the end of the day, safety is something that should be very important to all of us,” Locklear said.