CareerSafe is proud to announce Richard McPherson of Rio Rico, Arizona, as the winner of the 2017 CareerSafe Safety Educator of the Year Award. McPherson was one of five nationwide finalists for the award. Lisa London, CareerSafe Director of Strategic Alliances, presented McPherson with the award at the ACTE Excellence Awards Banquet in Nashville last Wednesday night.
The Safety Educator of the Year Award was established to recognize educators who have not only dedicated their time to prepare students for the future, but to also help students recognize and mitigate workplace hazards in their chosen careers. They instill necessary career skills in their students, while also prioritizing the importance of safety in all aspects of life.
McPherson is the CTE Agriculture Science Instructor at Rio Rico High School, where he teaches Introduction to Agriculture, Applied Biological Systems, Plant Science and Advanced Plant Sciences. His curriculum includes plant and animal science with laboratory activities in bio-security, sanitation, nutrition, environmental controls, husbandry, livestock and produce harvesting techniques, as well as agriculture building systems which expands into hand and power tools, tractors, construction and fabrication, welding and cutting, plumbing and other topics. Throughout it all, safety is a key component in his classes, McPherson said.
“I have the philosophy that if my student went to school and didn’t come back a little dirty or a little scuffed up, they probably didn’t learn anything that day,” McPherson said. “So now I like to expose my students to as many hands-on activities as they possibly do, but keep them safe the entire journey.”
Each year, all returning students must begin the school year with a refresher safety unit. Students must retake safety exams and their safety training records are updated before they’re allowed to work on or taught new material. Credentialing opportunities provide McPherson’s students the ability to show employers that they have extensive knowledge in various skill sets.
“If the students aren’t safe here, it can totally impact their entire future,” McPherson said. “Safety gives them a future, and they’re more likely to get employed if they come in with some safety knowledge, training and attitudes.”
To date, McPherson’s classes have logged over 18,000 of accident-free direct work experience, in areas such as 210-acre farms, greenhouses, hydroponic fish houses, hydroponic tomato gardens, and more. When asked about his program, commitment to those hours and his students is evident.
“The students are the program. My definition of a school - a little red brick building with the future inside,” McPherson said.