The year was 1995 when Bernard Geschke, director of the Nebraska Rural Health and Safety Coalition, received a call from Jack Odle, editor-in-chief of The Progressive Farmer, and Susan Reynolds-Porter, executive director of The Progressive Farmer Farm Safety Day Camp program. This was no ordinary call, fax or email, but instead a call for action -- a call for help.
Geschke was one of only 12 individuals to receive a call from Odle and Reynolds-Porter after a series of feature stories in The Progressive Farmer magazine quickly led to identifying an incredible need among farm families to help keep the future generation of the agriculture industry safe on farms, on ranches and in rural America. The series of stories profiled nearly 100 farm fatalities, many of whom were children, and generated more letters and calls from its readership than any other story in the history of the publication.
With Odle at the helm, The Progressive Farmer was determined to find a solution. Thus came The Progressive Farmer Farm Safety Day Camp program, with the goal of sponsoring 12 safety day camps throughout the United States led by 12 safety and health experts. Odle explains that since there were not funds allocated for the camps, the magazine scraped up limited funds by tightening its belt that year. Utilizing the funds, each of the experts was given the same amount to take back to his or her respective state and host a safety day camp. However, Geschke had other plans for the monies, as he recognized there was a way to use it to reach even more youth. He developed an instructional training program and prepared a group of individuals who then hosted six safety day camps throughout the great state of Nebraska. So, when the time came for the 12 individuals to report back to The Progressive Farmer on how the funds were spent, Geschke shared about the training and six safety days camps held in Nebraska. Odle and Reynolds-Porter immediately recognized that Geschke was on to something and that he had the talent to make it happen.
Not long after, Geschke received another call from Odle, but this time he was asked to come onboard as a contractor with The Progressive Farmer and lead farm safety day camp trainings throughout the United States. Geschke jumped at the opportunity and began traveling throughout rural America hosting trainings in various states. For the next eight to 10 years, he went on to develop and implement trainings throughout the United States and into Canada. Then, in 2003, Geschke joined as a full-time employee to what evolved into the Progressive Agriculture Foundation(R) and helped take the training to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Fast-forward 19 years to today, having played an instrumental role in reaching more than 1.8 million individuals and counting, Geschke has decided it is time for his next chapter: retirement. At the end of March 2022, Geschke will retire from the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, leaving an incredible legacy, one that continues to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for all youth and their communities. From building props to helping with the implementation of hundreds of hands-on activities and demonstrations into our curriculum, Geschke has been an integral part in making the Foundation's Progressive Agriculture Safety Day(R) program the largest safety and health educational program for children in North America and positioning the Foundation to continue forward for many years to come.
-- FIND US ONLINE: Visit https://www.progressiveag.org/…, or call us at 888-257-3529.
-- Send a child to a Safety Day by donating today. Text SAFETYDAY to 44321.
-- The Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF) is proud to be recognized as a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. Additionally, PAF has a 3-star rating with Charity Navigator and was awarded a Platinum Seal of Transparency with GuideStar. All donations are tax-deductible.
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