Women account for more than 14% of South Carolina’s agricultural producers, and a Clemson Extension event coming to the state capital aims to help them sharpen common, critical farm safety skills in a supportive environment.
The S.C. Women’s Agricultural Network (S.C. WAgN) by Clemson Extension is hosting its first Farm Safety Day for Women at Sandhill Research and Education Center (REC) on March 18. While the event is geared toward women, anyone dedicated to improving farm safety is welcome to attend, regardless of sex.
“We’re hoping to provide a calm and safe place for women — and anyone who is interested in improving their farm safety skills — to come learn in small groups about chainsaws, electric fences, pesticides, and tractor and trailer safety,” Agribusiness Extension Agent Charlotte Maxwell said. “They will be able to rotate through supervised stations in small groups, learn from each other and go back at the end and practice anything they want to.”
On-site registration will open at 9 a.m. and the first session will begin at 10 a.m. Since most of the sessions will be outdoors, participants are asked to dress accordingly for the weather and wear closed-toed shoes.
Registration is limited to 50 participants on a first-come, first-served basis and is available here. The cost of the event is $10. Lunch will be provided, and youth 12-18 are welcome to attend if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Sandhill REC is located at 900 Clemson Road in Columbia.
Maxwell said a statewide needs assessment survey led to the S.C. WAgN committee recognizing the need for women to have opportunities to work with equipment such as chainsaws.
“It might be a stressful situation to try to learn those skills on their own farm, and we wanted to bring them together and provide a space with common people where they can learn and take it back home and feel comfortable asking questions and practicing,” she said.
S.C. WAgN has an overarching goal to provide women in agriculture the tools they need to grow their success, feel confident in their roles and provide a network for women in agriculture in the state.
Because of the growing number of women in active agriculture roles, S.C. WAgN aims to: empower women to be confident, strong, stewards of the land; provide unique opportunities for women in agriculture to expand their knowledge, expertise and experience in their role as agriculture producers, educators and professionals; and encourage networking opportunities by building a community of women ranchers, farmers, landowners, professionals and educators.
“Our main mission is to provide all women in agriculture with the tools they need to grow their success and feel confident in their roles,” Maxwell said, “and we’ve really tried to focus on women being the farmers — not women being the farm support or the farm wife or the farm mom, but women as the farmer — and part of that is being comfortable using these pieces of equipment and recognizing that they are doing labor on the farm. So, it’s just one step in helping to get them confident on the farm.”
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