A central Iowa woman, who founded a farm safety organization after the tragic death of her son, is one of nine finalists for the top award in a national "hometown hero" contest. Fifty-seven year old Marilyn Adams of Earlham developed Farm Safety for Just Kids in 1987. The non-profit group has played a significant role in reducing the number of children killed or injured in farm-related accidents.
"When I started the organization after my son suffocated in a gravity-flow wagon, it was 300 (deaths) a year," Adams said. "Now, we’re looking at a little of 100 every year…children that actually die on family farms – and a lot of injuries." Adams has already won $25,000 in charitable contributions from an auto maker that is sponsoring the hometown hero contest.
If she is selected for the grand prize by a panel of celebrity judges, Adams’ award would be $100,000 and a new car every three years for the rest of her life. Adams plans to invest the money into Farm Safety for Just Kids . She would like to use the money for more educational materials and to complete a feasibility study to set up an endowment fund for the organization.
In just over 20 years, Farm Safety for Just Kids has expanded far beyond Iowa. Adams says there are now 137 chapters in 34 states and four Canadian provinces. Adams is quick to point out the other organizations that focus on children’s safety on the farm.
"It isn’t just our organization," Adams says, "ISU extension, 4H, Farm Bureau…a lot of other organizations have focused on keeping the farms a lot safer." Adams expects to find out within a couple weeks if she’ll be one of the three finalists to attend an awards ceremony in New York on March 19. More details are available on-line at www.volvoforlifeawards.com .