Campus Life

ASTE Professors Contribute to $600,000 Research Project

Two Utah State University professors have joined a national project with the goal of increasing safety education for minors working in the agricultural industry. Michael Pate and Becki Lawver from the School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education will spend the next two years in high school agriculture classes studying farm safety issues.

“We want to help teachers and students be proactive about safety on the farm,” Lawver said.

Led by Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences, the Safety in Agriculture for Youth project is a collaboration of government and private agencies working to increase safety education while lowering dangerous situations for minors on farms and ranches.

“It’s very tough to get kids involved in production agriculture,” Pate said. “A byproduct of this could possibly be more involvement.”

The project is funded by a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The USDA allotted Pate and Lawver approximately $90,000 for their portion of the project, which focuses on creating and implementing a standardized safety curriculum for Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) in high school agriculture classes.

Through experiential learning, SAEs allow high school students to apply classroom lessons to real work on agricultural operations. The experiences, that are required for all high school agriculture classes, are observed and graded by teachers.

“There isn’t a clear standard for evaluating student safety during SAEs,” Pate said. “As ag teachers, we not only need to teach students career readiness but also workplace safety.”

Pate said he and Lawver plan to start the project with a national survey of high school agriculture teachers.

“We are going to look at what teachers are currently doing with safety,” Pate said. “See what’s working and what isn’t.”

Using information collected from the survey along with other sources, Pate and Lawver will create a standardized SAE safety evaluation that can be applied nationwide.

Pate and Lawver will also create and organize safety workshops for educators, providing them with access to resources and expertise.

“I think the future impacts of this project might just be to make students, parents, teachers, communities and employers aware of the importance of safety in career preparation,” Lawver said.

Related links:

USU School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education

USU College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Contact: Becki Lawver, 435-797-1254,

Contact: Michael Pate, 435-797-3508,

Writer: Dawn Otterby,

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