By Randi B. Hagi
On Saturday evening, about 35 people gathered for a dinner program near Clover Hill in Rockingham County. Most of them were dairy farmers. Others dealt in beef, some poultry, and several were still babes in arms. They were brought together by the local Cooperative Extension office and healthcare providers to watch a few skits about farm hazards and injuries, in the hopes of sparking conversations about their own safety.
Broadway High School students Maggie Toothman and Jackie Diaz, teacher Herb Hoffeditz, and farmer Vince Rhodes were the evening's actors. Listeners should be advised that agricultural puns are involved.
Similar events have been held elsewhere in the state, but this was the program's debut in the Shenandoah Valley.
JEREMY DAUBERT: This is a research-based program, so there's a lot of data that says the process works for making change in the community.
Jeremy Daubert is Rockingham County's dairy extension agent. He and his wife used to run a dairy farm, and they still raise animals on the side. Most of the evening's attendees were people he works with often through the extension office.
LISKEY: Luckily, I wasn't exposed at a high level, but I did go to UVa for five days. … Luckily I had no scar tissue damage in my lungs. … I learned afterwards that I could get a gas meter from the Rockingham Fire Department, and it's free to use. … They showed me how to use it, and it's pretty simple.
Liskey and other farmers commiserated about always being in a rush to finish a task or beat the weather – and how that can lead to mishaps.
LISKEY: A lot of things are out of our control, but we do have the choice, I reckon, to think a little bit about the consequences if we're in too much of a hurry sometimes. … I think it's just good to review with fellow farmers, and sometimes I think we learn off of each other quicker than if we just read something. … Share personal experiences about it.
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