Mr. Keown was raised on a livestock and hay farm in Iva, SC. While an FFA member at Crescent High School, he had the best Agricultural Education teachers who influenced him to become an agriculture teacher. He attended Clemson University and majored in Agricultural Education. Once graduating, he then taught high school agriculture classes for nine years- one year in Marion County and eight years at Crescent.
How important is it for farmers and other people in agriculture be safe?
TK: Safety should be first and foremost on every worker’s mind. Human lives are much more valuable than cutting corners on a job to get it done faster. I preach that my students and employees must complete their job slowly and safely. Farmers have a dangerous job at times, especially around hay equipment, livestock, and all the moving parts on a tractor or combine. All of the students and employees at our school must pass a safety test each year.
What do you think is the best way to teach agricultural safety?
TK: Mixed instruction is the best method. Classroom instruction coupled with hands-on instruction is what our students will be exposed to. One of the key components of Agricultural Education is hands-on learning. When learning safety, the same method applies and is proven effective. Clemson University Agricultural Mechanization instructors and students have a fantastic safety program that allows students to have a hands-on approach to safety while learning.
What is the biggest way to leave an impression on middle to high school age children?
TK: This is simple, lead by example. Youth learn by watching what adults do. If we are setting a good example and using our agricultural equipment safely, normally they will follow in our footsteps. Of course, if we are negligent in our actions, so will they.
What can be done to spread awareness about safety issues?
TK: Programs like Clemson’s Ag. Safety workshops serve as a great introduction to the importance of practicing safety. We need to familiarize students early on to make an impact in their adult lives.
Do you have any advice for the agricultural sector in this time of uncertainty?
TK: Agricultural workers are essential to the rest of society for several obvious reasons. My wish is that those who are not employed in our industry would become more appreciative of those working to produce their food, clothing, and shelter. My advice to the agricultural sector would be to keep your head held high, continue to work hard (and safely), and be thankful that you all are THE glue that keeps America held together! Remember, we all need a doctor or a lawyer a few times in our life, but we need a farmer three times a day!
Check out the John de la Howe School for Agriculture here.
Submitted by Tim Keown