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Fence me in

Julie and Darrell Schoeneberg wanted to do more to protect the safety of their two young children on their family cattle and grain farm near Poynette, Wisconsin.

"We keep a very watchful eye on our kids," Julie says. "But even so, they can be out of our sight in the blink of an eye. We were constantly worried about our 2-year-old son getting lost in the cornfield or our daughter who was four years old running after Grandpa George when he was running the loader tractor."

With a third child on the way, they applied for a Farm Family Safety Incentive Grant to help offset the costs of installing a chain-link fence.

"The grant was a godsend," Julie says. "The check arrived the same day the fence was being built."

The Schoenebergs were among 10 2007 recipients of the Farm Family Safety Incentive Grant, a 13-year joint project of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids and Successful Farming magazine. Recipients were awarded up to $250.

Ryan and Jen Koenen, Hampton, Iowa, used their grant to buy ATV helmets for their sons, Kolton, 7, and Kendal, 4, so they can safely ride the four-wheeler with Ryan.

"Watching the news one night, I heard the tragic story of a 13-year-old Iowa boy found dead in a ditch after an ATV accident," Jen says. "Without a doubt, this is a parent's worst nightmare and certainly my greatest fear. It was a wake-up call to improve the safety of our children."

The Koenens also bought disposable foam ear plugs as well as wood chips for the play area in their yard.

A few years ago, Joy Harms moved back to her family's home farm near the Little Blue River in Thayer County, Nebraska. The brick silo still was in fairly good condition.

"But the three doors had rotted and collapsed," she says. "My son put a double hog panel across the bottom door area at ground level to keep animals from falling in."

When her grandchildren came to visit, she had new fears. "Two are in that toddler-exploring age," she says. "I was afraid they might climb the hog panels and fall into the murky water in the silo that summer."

With her grant, Joy bought construction materials and her son, Tyler, built three doors with hinges and safety-bolted padlocked latches.

Brooke Wackerlin, 6, and her 3-year-old brother prompted safety concerns in the farm shop near Waterman, Illinois. The grant was used to buy motion-detector lights, two cabinets with locking doors (to store herbicides, chemicals, and power tools), a carbon monoxide detector, and a key box.

"We put the keys from our trucks, lawn mowers, tractors, and four-wheelers in it so none could accidentally start up," their mom, Amy says.

The Zells wanted to improve the safety of their dairy barn on their Mosinee, Wisconsin, farm. They decided to start with the wash system.

"Our tank washer is a 1984 model," Jim says. "The problem is that kids can get at the acid in the barrels. We know children who have been seriously injured or even died from ingesting this acid."

He used grant funds to invest in a new enclosed system that automatically pumps into a closed system.

Carol Heetland, Ackley, Iowa, applied for a community Farm Safety Incentive Grant to offer programs for 200 prekindergartners and kindergartners at AGWSR (Ackley, Geneva, Wellsburg, and Shell Rock) and Hampton and Dumont Schools.

"We demonstrated the size of a tractor tire, the hazards of corn in a gravity flow wagon, sun safety, and seat belt use," she says.

There's no one way to keep kids out of harm's way. This year's grant recipients submitted an array of ideas with one common goal.

"We enjoy watching our boys grow up on the farm that's been in my husband's family for generations," says Jen Koenen. "Nothing is more important to us than doing everything we can to keep them safe."

Julie and Darrell Schoeneberg wanted to do more to protect the safety of their two young children on their family cattle and grain farm near Poynette, Wisconsin.

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