Raising awareness one screening at a time

Western Farm Show’s Health & Safety Roundup nears 30-year mark

Nearly three decades ago, the Western Farm Show launched an effort to raise awareness of farm safety and personal health among farmers. It was an idea that started slow but has steadily grown into a significant part of the show today.

The success from those early years can be traced back to a partnership between retired Western Equipment Dealers Association CEO Jeff Flora and newly retired Missouri Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Director Diane Olson. Flora remembers the moment the idea came to mind.

“I was running the farm show for the first time in 1981 and the gentleman who ran it before me had hired a woman dressed as a nurse to hand out bandages and aspirin to people who needed it during the show,” Flora said. “I thought she was a real nurse. But after we had a couple of medical emergencies at the show, I discovered she was not.”

Not long after that experience, Flora met Olson and the two began to build the concept of a Health and Safety Roundup at the show. Flora credits Olson with expanding well beyond aspirin and bandages, enlisting the help of numerous organizations and agencies from around the region to bring safety education and health screenings to the show.

“Twenty eight years ago the Health and Safety Area was introduced at the Western Farm Show. The goal then—to offer safety reminders and health screenings—remains constant for the 2020 show,” Olson said.

This year’s Health and Safety Roundup, Feb. 21 to 23, at the American Royal Center, Kansas City, Missouri, will again offer an array of health screenings, most of which are complimentary or for a nominal fee. These include free blood pressure screenings and cholesterol screenings (nominal fee) throughout the three-day event. Other health screenings will include for skin cancer and hearing loss. Students from the UMKC School of Pharmacy will be on hand Saturday to interact with attendees and provide additional screenings, Cass Regional Medical Center will provide demonstrations on “stop the bleed” to prepare for the unexpected.

Safety exhibits are another key component of the Heath and Safety Roundup. Western Farm Show attendees can tap the resources of the University of Missouri Extension, the Missouri and Kansas Highway Patrol, Protect the Harvest, 4-H Shooting Sports, Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, Missouri Farm Bureau, and the University of Central Missouri. The area includes activities for children and adults.

“Because farmers continue to face challenges including weather, flooding, trade and commodity prices, MU Extension has developed programs to help individuals identify and cope with this part of their life and will have them available for attendees,” Olson said.

Through the decades, the Health and Safety area has become a must visit destination. Often, attendees return each year to share a story about the impact of screenings on their lives, Olson said.

By the nature of the job of farming, according to Flora, producers are hesitant to schedule regular medical checkups unless it’s critical because of busy schedules or fear.

“I think the thing I’m the most proud of is the Health and Safety Roundup because I think we made a difference in so many people’s lives,” Flora said.

For more information about the Western Farm Show visit www.westernfarmshow.com.

Susan Fotovich McCabe can be reached at [email protected].