FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2022
CONTACT: Scott Heiberger
Childhood Agricultural Safety Network introduces first leadership team
The Childhood Agricultural Safety Network (CASN), a coalition of organizations and individuals established in 1999 through collaboration between the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, the Progressive Agriculture Foundation and Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, has named its first-ever leadership team.
“I think the future of CASN is much brighter, thanks to this team,” said Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D, National Children’s Center project scientist and program manager for CASN. “Their diversity of ideas, skills and networking capabilities have already made an impact.”
The six-person leadership team was drawn from more than 170 organizations and individuals who comprise the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network. They were introduced June 13 at the CASN annual in-person meeting in Fort Collins, Colo.
Leadership team members are:
- Cheryl Beseler, associate professor, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center.
- Marsha Cheyney, evaluation and outreach coordinator, Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, University of Iowa.
- Jana Davidson, program manager, Progressive Agriculture Foundation.
- Melanie Forti, Health and Safety Programs Director and Children In the Fields Campaign Director, Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs.
- Whitney Pennington, outreach program coordinator, High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, Colorado State University.
- David Sullivan, director of programs, Ag Health & Safety Alliance.
The June meeting provided a glimpse of the team’s dynamics.
“Their effectiveness was very apparent at the meeting,” Salzwedel said. “Each of the team members facilitated different parts of the agenda, engaging all the CASN members in the discussions and ensuring we stayed on topic and on schedule, while also bringing out fresh ideas and new perspectives.”
Sullivan is excited about the team’s potential to make a difference. “The team as a whole is a skillful team, representing broad areas of agriculture from indigenous to research to boots-on-the-ground people,” Sullivan said. “It’s a great nucleus to help spread the word about childhood agricultural safety and health.”
Team responsibilities include helping with the selection of topics and content for CASN campaigns, identifying potential collaborators, helping to lead strategic planning for the network, and engaging members in the CASN Online Community.
Pennington said it was energizing to see colleagues in-person after a three-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is responsible for seeking feedback from CASN members on how to network, to meet in-person or online, and activities for regular collaboration in addition to the annual in-person meeting.
“Our aim is to have something organized, for example, a Zoom meeting or a more robust workshop, where we can interact with one another each quarter,” Pennington said.
More frequent formal interactions, in addition to utilizing the new CASN Online Community, should enhance one of CASN’s long-time strengths: sharing members’ resources for the benefit of all members and for CASN campaigns.
Pennington said it’s important to, “help facilitate how we share knowledge and information with each other and break down those silos, so we can increase the speed at which we learn from each other and build on each other’s work and not feel like we’re duplicating … but actually moving forward.”
The first major campaign with the new team in place will feature all-terrain vehicle and utility-terrain vehicle (ATV/UTV) safety, a specialty for Sullivan. The upcoming campaign will utilize a process developed by Melanie Forti and the rest of the leadership team allowing CASN members to easily submit their own resources to be shared in the campaign.
This type of coordinated effort is required to, “change the safety attitudes and behaviors of the agriculture community as a whole on key topics such as ATVs and UTVs,” said Sullivan.
The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety is celebrating 25 years of preventing injuries associated with the agricultural worksite, one of the nation’s most hazardous worksites and the only one where children of any age may be present.
The National Children’s Center is a program of the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. It is one of 11 agricultural health and safety centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The Childhood Agricultural Safety Network announced its new leadership team in June at its meeting in Fort Collins, Colo. The team (front row, from right): Jana Davidson, Progressive Agriculture Foundation; Whitney Pennington, High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, Colorado State University; Cheryl Beseler, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Marsha Cheyney, Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, University of Iowa; David Sullivan, Ag Health & Safety Alliance; and network program manager Marsha Salzwedel, National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. Not pictured: Melanie Forti, Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs.
Whitney Pennington, outreach program coordinator, High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, Colorado State University, is one of six members of the new Childhood Agricultural Safety Network leadership team.
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