Troy Boomsma says if someone told him he would lose a son in a tractor accident, he would say it could never happen.
But he did.
And when the Boomsma family lost 7-year-old Jaxon in a farming accident on his grandparents’ farm on Easter weekend 2017, Troy Boomsma made it his mission to promote farm safety. Her hope is that other families will not experience the same tragedy.
“When you have a tragic accident like this, it changes your family. It changes who you are,” Troy explained.
Both Troy and his wife grew up on farms. And like so many farm kids, they valued their childhood experiences and worked to ensure their children could spend as much time as possible on their grandparents’ farms.
“Growing up on a farm, you learn a work ethic, responsibility and character – all of which helped us become who we are,” Troy said. “The challenge I see is that while the farm is a great place to raise a family, it’s also a dangerous place. All I ask when I meet farmers is to take a break a moment and to think about safety before proceeding.”
To encourage farm families to think about safety, Troy, his sister Mary Boomsma and Jaxon’s siblings Jaiden, Callie and Carter have created a children’s book for families to read together.
The book follows Jaxon as he explores his grandparents’ farm. Each page highlights aspects of the farm Jaxon loved and shares safety tips: “I love green tractors, but remember, tractors are really big and sometimes the farmer can’t see what’s going on. surrounded. It is very important that we stay clear of tractors and know where they are at all times! »
“We realized that many farming families are so used to working on the farm that they don’t think about how dangerous it can be,” explained Jaxon’s older sister, Jaiden.
When Jaiden heard about the children’s book her father and aunt were working on, she suggested that the illustrations be based on real photos from the family farm. “Jaxon loved the farm. For a school project, he wrote: “When I’m 60 I want to be a farmer,” she said.
Jaiden is studying business and marketing at South Dakota State University. “The book is aimed at young children, but as adults read it to them, they also learn about the safety aspects.”
Jaiden joined her father in advocating for farm safety. In addition to the Facebook page that her mother and the JLB committee run, she has expanded social media messaging about farm safety to Instagram and TikTok. JLB is short for Jaxon’s full name: Jaxon Liam Boomsma.
“I thought I could be a spokesperson for people my age,” said Jaiden, who recently started giving farm safety presentations to school-aged children. “It’s emotional, and always will be, but seeing how many people are taking farming facts and applying them to real life helps me realize that we’re helping.”
“I hope by sharing our story we can help someone.” Troy Boumma
After losing Jaxon, Troy began researching farming accidents. “What struck me was that a child dies in an accident every three days. The main causes are side-by-sides and tractors. Twenty-five percent of them are tractor rollovers.
Through his work as a Territory Manager for Pioneer Seed, Troy meets farmers daily and immediately realized that many other farming families have been affected by similar tragedies. “It’s amazing the number of people I’ve spoken to who have lost children in farming accidents. It helps to know how they got away with it.
For Troy, sharing his family’s story and promoting farm safety is healing. “I understand, for some, talking about it is really difficult. For me, that helps. I hope that by sharing our story, we can help someone.
To learn more about Boomsma’s farm safety advocacy work or to order a copy of Staying Safe on the Farm with Jaxon, visit Jaxon’s memorial Facebook page: Jaxon L. Boomsma Keep his Smile Alive.
Farmers Union Helps Share Farm Safety Message
Throughout 2022, the South Dakota Farmers Union will distribute copies of Staying Safe on the Farm with Jaxon to youth and families as part of their effort to provide farm safety education.
“We are grateful to the Boomsma family for having the courage to share their story to help keep other families safe,” said Karla Hofhenke, executive director of the South Dakota Farmers Union.
Farm safety is central to the educational programs of the South Dakota Farmers Union. In 2018, the state’s largest farm organization designed a farm safety trailer to provide young people with a fun, interactive way to learn about farm safety.
Farmers Union puts thousands of miles on the trailer, taking it to schools, fairs, community, 4-H and FFA events across the state, explained Rocky Forman, membership coordinator.
“Children learn best by doing,” says Forman. “So we made sure that every safety lesson featured in this trailer engages youngsters in a hands-on activity.”
For example, young people can try out a safety harness while learning about grain silo safety; Drive ATV Simulator to learn how to drive ATV safely and through the 3D model farm they can learn about high risk areas of the farm and how to be safe.
To learn more about the South Dakota Farmers Union’s work to support farm and ranch families and their rural communities, visit http://www.sdfu.org.
–South Dakota Farmers Union