DeKalb County Snapshot

Farm safety camp teaches kids to be safe

MALTA – Neither Dylan Callaghan or Joey Ramm live on a farm, but the DeKalb youngsters were still among 75 local children who attended the 11th annual Farm Safety Camp for Kids on Friday at Jonamac Orchard in Malta.

Kathy Callaghan, the mother of Dylan, 12, said Dylan was attending with his best friend.

"We just decided to take the time to be with a bunch of other kids for the summer," she said.

Since Callaghan's family owns a farm, she said Dylan is around a farm on a regular basis. The same goes for Joey, 8, whose father works for the Elburn Coop.

"He is on the farm one day a week, and he seems to think he owns it," Joey's mother, Lena Ramm, said with a laugh. "I can tell him to be safe all day, but if someone else does, he'll listen."

Camp coordinator Mariam Wassmann of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau said the camp is sponsored by the farm bureau in conjunction with Jerry and Mary Lynn McArtor and Kevin and Denise McArtor of Jonamac.

"Whether they're working or playing, we're trying to teach them to be safe on a farm," Wassmann said.

The safety camps for children 8-12 years old started in 1994 and have been held every other year since. Wassmann said Jonamac became the camp's permanent location in 2000, because it has a central location in the county.

The campers were divided into eight groups and spent about 20 minutes at different stations, learning about all-terrain vehicles, fire safety, farm machinery, grain bins and wagons, first aid and rescue, farm animals, lawn mowers, electricity, farm chemicals, hearing, semi-tractor trailers, and bicycle safety. At one location, campers were shown how to escape from a burning building. Local groups and volunteers led each demonstration.

Chuck Stephan of Bob-Jo's Cycle Company in Sycamore has been volunteering since the camps started. He said it's his goal to teach kids to ride ATVs responsibly. Olivia Willrett of the Malta Mustangs 4-H Club taught children never to approach a horse if it has its ears back.

If nothing else, the kids will remember one thing, Toro salesman Dave Kohlhagen said: a lawn mower blade completes 18,500 revolutions in one minute.

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