Youth agricultural health and safety is one of the most urgent and important challenges facing our state and nation. Every day, 33 children are injured, and three children die as a result of agricultural-related incidents in the U.S. In response to this crisis, the Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines (AYWG) were developed by the National Farm Medicine Center’s Children’s Center, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center of Excellence. The AYWG are an up-to-date set of 52 guidelines for parents and youth supervisors to use to determine the appropriateness of different agricultural tasks for youth to help prevent injuries and fatalities. Although the AYWG are a successful intervention, the applied use of the guidelines on farms has been limited. Previous dissemination efforts have focused on parents while youth educators have yet to be reached. The goal of this project is to enhance agricultural health and safety education for children in Wisconsin by incorporating the AYWG into an enhanced curriculum among Wisconsin agricultural educators. Specific aims include:

  1. Identify primary factors affecting the adoption of AYWG into existing curriculum.
    1. Focus groups with educators in years one and two.
    2. Survey educators based on findings from focus groups in year two.
  2. Develop an enhanced curriculum to accompany the AYWG using feedback from focus groups and survey collected during years one and two
  3. Assess sustainability of curriculum through the development of a business plan for the dissemination and outreach of the AYWG curriculum to Wisconsin agricultural educators
  4. Distribute curriculum to accompany the AYWG to agricultural educators.

This proposal will assist in filling this gap by targeting Wisconsin agricultural educators teaching grades 8––12 (e.g., high school teachers, advisors for FFA chapters). This work will also reach organizations with youth educators, such as 4-H project leaders and educators involved with sustainable agriculture, who are responsible for teaching and assisting youth in various projects throughout the year (e.g., extension agents, project leaders, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services [MOSES] educators).

Principal Investigator: Andrea Swenson, Ph.D.

Dr. Swenson joined the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in 2019 with a focus on evaluation and a background in Human Development and Family Science. Having been raised on a dairy farm, Andrea values the complex labor individuals engage in everyday and strives to improve the quality of programs designed to increase the safety and health of those engaged in agricultural work. In addition to developing resources for youth educators to use related to Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines, Andrea leads an additional study assessing the barriers and motivators affecting the use of Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines among farm parents and supervisors, evaluates the activities and performance of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, and conducts evaluation activities for a variety of programs within the National Farm Medicine Center.

Barbara Lee, RN, Ph.D.: Director – National Children’s Center, Senior Research Scientist

Protecting children from agricultural injuries has been the primary focus of Dr. Lee's career since 1987 when she transitioned from clinical nursing to research. She organized the first national symposium on childhood agricultural injury prevention and has been a leader in research, knowledge mobilization and advocacy. In 1996 she led the adoption of the National Action Plan for Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention and shortly thereafter secured federal funding for a NIOSH Center of Excellence. She has directed the NIOSH-funded National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety since its establishment in 1997. Her research has tested interventions to protect working youth and non-working children on farms. She has been involved in many phases of the development and dissemination of the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks released in 1999 and their update to the current Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines. She helped bring the Journal of Agromedicine to its home in Marshfield and serves as its Senior Associate Editor. Dr. Lee was a founding member of the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA), served as its Administrative Director for a decade, and continues to serve on its Board of Directors.

Marsha Salzwedel, Ed.D.: Project Scientist

Marsha Salzwedel is a Project Scientist and Agricultural Youth Safety Specialist at the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS) and the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC) in Marshfield, Wisconsin. She leads the NCCRAHS Outreach Core and the agritourism safety project, led the development of the agricultural youth work guidelines, and manages the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network. Marsha holds several board and committee positions with other organizations. She earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Edgewood College in Madison. Marsha grew up on a farm and maintains her ties with that community through the farm that she and her family still own and operate.

Melissa Ploeckelman: Outreach Specialist

Melissa Ploeckelman is the outreach specialist for the National Farm Medicine Center and the National Children’s Center for Rural Agriculture Health and Safety. Ploeckelman is well-known to the Wisconsin agricultural community. She comes from the Colby School District, where she was the agriculture instructor, FFA advisor and Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator for six years. Ploeckelman grew up on the family’s dairy farm in Stetsonville, where she still helps out. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2010 with a degree in agricultural education. While attending college she served as the 2006-2007 State FFA Parliamentarian, was named 2008 Marathon County Fairest of the Fairs, and selected the 2009 State Fairest of the Fairs.  Melissa now loves to share the story of farm safety as she continues her adventure in Wisconsin Agriculture. 

Cassandra Peltier: Health Educator Associate

Cassandra Peltier is a Health Educator Associate for the National Children’s Center for Rural Agricultural Health and Safety. Her current work is assisting with the development of curriculum for agricultural youth to accompany the Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay where she studied Human Biology with a Nutritional Science Emphasis. Peltier will be applying her knowledge of Community Health and Wellness to provide creative ideas and materials for the project.

Christopher Benny: Research Coordinator

Christopher Benny is a Research Coordinator for the National Farm Medicine Center and the National Children’s Center for Rural Agriculture Health and Safety. Benny graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in 2019 with a BS in Biochemistry. After graduation he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician and as a Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician. He hopes to continue playing a role in health and wellness by serving the agricultural community through the work he does for the Research Institute.