Third to sixth class students from the Wexford and Wicklow region visited Carnew Mart on Tuesday 29 November to attend an interactive health and safety demonstration day.

Students were shown the importance of farm safety and the precautions which need to be taken in order to avoid accidents and fatalities.

Hazard signs and symbols, along with the dangers of livestock, machinery and farming, were outlined through AgriKids founder Alma Jordan’s interactive talk.

After their talk, students went on a mart walk to learn about the operations of Carnew Mart and the procedures taken to ensure staff and customer safety is maintained.

Awareness Head to Toe, a voluntary committee formed in Wexford promoting mental health, general health and farm safety awareness, gave a demonstration on machinery safety.

The importance of educating children on farm safety

The event was organised by Carnew Mart operators David and Eilish Quinn. After a local mart customer of theirs had a farm accident which resulted in a fatality, they decided to do something to help spread the farm safety message in their community.

David said: “We are all very aware of the amount of farm accidents and unfortunately fatalities [that occur].

“As a mart operator, it’s something you have to think about nearly on a daily and weekly basis.”

Eilish spoke to local teachers and Alma and began organising the event.

AgriKids was founded with the ethos that people positively engage, educate and empower our children to become farm safety ambassadors.

Founder Alma tells Irish Country Living: “I think by collaborating and working together to weave in the farm safety message, we will be closer to making this topic far more instinctive among our rural and farming communities.”

Awareness Head To Toe Chairman George Graham and Jackie Whelan Fagan IFA IFA Regional Executive

Alma adds: “We have a generational gap on this topic, where the older generation are harder to reach. I have found that children are very powerful and influential at communicating this message to their parents, grandparents and relatives.

“The awareness has to be backed up with practice and a behavioural and culture change.”

Comments from attendees

Ballyroebuck National School teacher Shauna Ryan said: “Our school is a rural school, so most of [the students] are interested in farming. There are a few in the class who would know more [about farming] than I would.

"There are a few who still need to learn about farming and don’t realise the dangers. It is very important to learn about this today.”

Trish Brown, teacher at Bunscoil Loreto Gorey, tells Irish Country Living: “We decided to come here as part of our science week last week.

"The children from our school are from town, most of them wouldn’t have been as close as this to farm animals before and they are really excited.”

In attendance was Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine Martin Heydon.

Students at Carnew Mart listening to Alma Jordan founder of Agri Kids

He said: “This is how we change culture; we impact every member of the family from the kids to the parents to the grandparents, identifying hazards, illuminating and reducing risks.

"Farmers wear as a badge of honour the fact that we have near misses all the time. Statistics tell us if we reduce the number of near misses, we will reduce the amount of fatal injuries and life-changing injuries.

“Four-thousand-five-hundred very serious injuries happen every year. They are not fatal incidences, but they are not talked about enough, either," added the minister.

"No farmer ever thinks it will happen to them. It can impact everything - the whole family and community - with devastating effects.

"What we are looking to do is to reduce that and have farmers identify the risk and kids have a key role to play in that. To see it under children in Carnew Mart today is brilliant and I am delighted to be here today to support it.”

Read more

Student placement series: from Rooskey to Scotland and back

Graduate profiles: making the transition from student to employee