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National Children's Center receives major grant for ag safety

Farm parents, insurers, youth organizations and others increasingly turn to the unique capabilities of the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety to help ensure the safety of the next generation of farmers.

Recognizing the role played by the National Children's Center in the steady decline of childhood agricultural nonfatal injury rates over the past decade, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced Sept. 25 that it's awarding the Center a $1.2 million per year competitive grant renewal for a five-year cycle. NIOSH has funded the National Children's Center since 1997. The center is also supported by Marshfield Clinic, generous donations and smaller grants.

The National Children's Center is a program of the National Farm Medicine Center, and part of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.

"This major award will significantly expand our efforts to integrate proven safety strategies into the programs of organizations and businesses that are best-positioned to influence the safety of children living and working on farms," said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., director of the National Children's Center.  "We expect to facilitate partnerships with private sector organizations such as agricultural employer associations, insurance companies, bankers, and youth-serving groups, to ensure that optimal safety interventions and guidelines are sustained beyond the span of the grant period.

"Innovative approaches will address safety for beginning farmers and ranchers, child care services for migrant and seasonal farm worker parents, and supervisor training of youth hired for agricultural employment."

While the overall decrease in childhood nonfatal injury rates is encouraging, a child is killed in a farm accident an average of every three days, indicating there's work left to be done. Also of concern is that the injury rate for children younger than 10 years old is increasing.

The new NIOSH grant includes seven distinct projects along with administrative, scientific, and evaluation oversight. Principal investigators from Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation include Lee; Barbara Marlenga, Ph.D.; Dr. Matthew Keifer; and Casper Bendixsen, Ph.D. External principal investigators include Amy K. Liebman of Migrant Clinicians Network; Dennis Murphy, Ph.D., of Penn State University; and Diane Rohlman, Ph.D., University of Iowa.   

The National Children's Center mission is to enhance the health and safety of children exposed to hazards associated with agricultural work and rural environments. More information on the center can be found at Injury facts and childhood agricultural safety resources can be found at

​​The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education in more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.


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