Each May, the University of Minnesota Extension Tesmer Farm Safety Day Camp brings together fourth graders from Fillmore and Houston counties to experience potentially life-saving lessons on farm and ag safety.
Held at Mabel’s Steam Engine Park, the event incorporates farm safety with other age-appropriate topics led by volunteer experts. “This is an age when kids are being trusted to be at home on their own and becoming more independent,” says Michael Cruse, local Extension Educator. “They may have heard about safety practices before, but there is no substitute for seeing and doing the demonstrations to reinforce learning.”
2017's camp was the biggest ever, with nearly 600 kids rotating through 13 sessions, including:
- Livestock safety
- Fire and electricity
- Grain bin drowning prevention
- Tractors, power take-off, ATVs, lawn mowers
- How to call 911 and work with first responders
Honoring Jerry Tesmer
The camp was recently named in honor of Jerry Tesmer, an Extension educator who championed farm safety in his teaching to youth and adults. Tesmer started the camp in collaboration with community members nearly 25 years ago and expanded it across counties, engaging schools and local FFA chapters. He passed away in 2015.
An opportunity to invest locally
Every gift, no matter the size, benefits youth in our community. Nearly 100 local businesses and organizations make annual contributions to fund Tesmer Farm Safety Day Camp expenses, such as educational supplies, lunch, and more. Extension appreciates the support of local businesses that fund the camp lunch, and is grateful for volunteers who often take time off work or give up a day at the farm during planting season. This camp would not happen without your contributions.
As the event grows, so does the need for shade and drinking water on hot spring days. Cruse and his team would like to make some larger one-time equipment purchases to make future Farm Safety Day Camp's more successful. Organizers have been renting tents and water coolers each year, but hope to purchase their own to reduce annual event costs. The purchase of two heavy-duty tents and portable drinking water systems will improve the camp, and other local Extension programs, for years to come.
2017 participants came from Fillmore Central, Lanesboro, Mabel-Canton, Rushford-Peterson, Chatfield, Kingsland, St. John’s Lutheran (Wykoff), Spring Grove, Houston, Crucifixion (La Crescent), Caledonia, St. Mary’s (Caledonia), St. John’s (Caledonia), and La Crescent-Hokah schools.