In 2007, Kristi Ruth's life changed dramatically. She was a farm safety advocate who suddenly found herself an incident survivor. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK), a non-profit organization located in Urbandale, Iowa, this spring selected Ruth, a high school junior from Chariton, Iowa, to join their network of Youth Representatives and share her story to educate others about rural health and safety hazards.
After her uncle was killed in a rollover incident, Ruth and her brothers constructed a tractor rollover demonstration that they displayed at the Lucas County Fair to raise awareness about tractor safety. When she started back to school in the fall of 2006, her ag teacher encouraged her to compete in an FFA prepared public speaking contest. She used her tractor safety background to compose a speech addressing the four most common tractor-related hazards: rollovers, runovers, roadway collisions and the Power Take Off (PTO) shaft. The judges awarded her a gold medal for her heartfelt presentation.
Always need to be careful on the farm
On February 18, 2007, Ruth was drilling postholes to construct a new head chute before calving season began when her arm got pulled into the PTO shaft of a posthole digger. In seconds, she had suffered debilitating injuries and nearly lost her arm. Doctors were able to save her limb but she struggles to complete every day tasks because of her limited range of mobility. Last summer, Ruth spoke at the 4-H County Fair and the Iowa State Fair and displayed the clothes she was wearing at the time of the incident to illustrate the unrelenting destruction caused by the spinning PTO.
In her new role as a FS4JK Youth Representative, Ruth joins her Nebraska counterpart, Ali Umland, in the movement to encourage positive behavior modification; end dangerous farming traditions, like allowing extra riders on tractors; and raise awareness about rural health and safety issues. One of Ruth's responsibilities will be to represent Farm Safety 4 Just Kids at the National Organizations for Youth Safety meeting in Washington, D.C. this fall. During the two day event, teens from across the country gather to discuss significant health and safety issues affecting their generation.
Non-profit organization promotes safety
"Teens often believe nothing bad will ever happen to them," says FS4JK Chapter and Membership Director, Tyler Vacha. "Kristi is able to draw upon her personal experience to educate her peers about the dangers associated with farming. She's living proof that even when you're cautious, incidents can happen in a split second that will change the course of your life forever."
To invite Kristi Ruth to speak at your next safety event or to learn more about Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, call 800-423-5437 or visit www.fs4jk.org.
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK) is a non-profit organization working to promote farm safety for kids. The organization produces and distributes educational materials on various rural safety topics. FS4JK is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers throughout the U.S. and Canada who conduct educational programs and promote farm safety and health. In 2008, Spokesperson and Founding President, Marilyn Adams, was named America's Greatest Hometown Hero and the grand prize winner of the 6th Annual Volvo for Life Awards. For more information call 800-423-5437 or visit www.fs4jk.org.