Web-based safety tool makes debut

Now Media Group


The redesigned 'Integrating Safety into Agritourism' website (www.safeagritourism.org), with mobile-friendly checklists and virtual walkthroughs, will be officially unveiled on Feb. 23 at the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association (WATA) Summit, Hotel Marshfield, Marshfield, WI.

The website will be featured in a Summit workshop on Emergency Response Planning led by Marsha Salzwedel, National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, part of the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation. Other Summit topics will include Historic Agriculture, Social Media, Marketing and Legislative Updates.

The two-day Summit (www.luv-r-ag.org) begins on Feb. 22.

'This redesign reflects how farmers prefer to get their information,' Salzwedel said.

Farmers increasingly are using tablets and smartphones, according to a Farm Journal Media survey of more than 1,000 producers. The survey indicated that by the end of 2016, 60 percent of farmers will own tablets and nearly 90 percent will own smartphones, she said.

Central Wisconsin developer Matt Pilz led the redesign. Pilz brought special app development expertise to the project, having won three grand prizes in 2013 Intel-sponsored worldwide competitions.

The work seems to have paid off. Here is feedback from farmers and ag educators who pilot-tested www.safeagritourism.org.

· 'I really like the flow, and it was easy for someone like me to navigate and find what I was looking for.' - Tom Tweite, Tweite's Family Farm, Byron, MN.

· 'I did quite a bit of browsing and going through the walkthroughs and checklists. It will be nice to be able to have this on a portable device to take to the field. Can't wait.' - Dave Meuer, Meuer Farm LLC, Chilton, WI.

· 'You make my work as an educator easy! I like this easy to use format.' - Dora Ann Hatch, Agritourism Coordinator, Louisiana State University.

'Integrating Safety into Agritourism' features virtual walkthroughs covering 15 key areas of agritourism including petting zoos, hand washing/restrooms, large animal safety, farmers' markets, food safety and more.

Farmers can access the mobile-friendly checklists on their tablets, fill them out while walking their property, and then save the information for their records. The website also contains information about insurance, along with numerous print-ready resources such as signs, policies, logs and information handouts — all available at no cost.

Additionally, the website content was reviewed for compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 standards help ensure that all users, regardless of disability status, can access the website content.

'I've worked a lot with farmers who offer agritourism activities on their farms,' said Salzwedel. 'One thing they all tell me is they want their visitors to have fun — and be safe while they are doing it. This newly designed website, with all its mobile friendly features, will make it easier for farmers to implement the safety part. The fun part, well, that will be up to them.'