1950-1962: Professional Growth and Organizational Maturity
The period from 1950 to 1962 is interesting in that the Institutes were no longer held in Chicago and the original group of safety specialists and educators had expanded to eight by 1949. The loosely formed organization was indeed now autonomous. National Safety Council personnel still attended but participated as equals in the discussion of farm safety problems and solutions. The addition of farm machinery manufacturers and Farm Bureau representatives in 1949 was significant. Issues could be approached from more than one perspective. Additional resources enriched the problem-solving process. Programs reflected a more professional approach to safety. Meeting locations included universities, signaling a closer tie to education and research.
Key resource people from a broad spectrum of safety interests were called on to share their expertise at the annual Institutes. Those attending shared ideas and program methods. Interested individuals working in farm and home safety seemed to be welcome as both contributors and participants in Institutes but the classification of “member” had yet to be defined. The safety educators included their families in the 1951 event, and spouses and children became a vital part of the summer Institute experience in the years that followed. The organization was on the move but had yet to formulate a specific mission and clearly define its membership.
Membership, though not clearly defined, had increased from the original three participants to the more than 60 attending the 1961 Institute. States joining the farm safety effort had increased from three in 1945 to a total of 25 in 1962. In addition, two foreign countries were represented. The participant mix was unique in that it included many entities and individuals with a vested interest in farm and home safety working cooperatively to resolve a critical problem. The selflessness of those attending Institutes and sharing program success and failures was, in itself, unique for a group of professional educators. An acceptable meeting pattern had finally been established along with a format for Institute proceedings and agenda for professional improvement programs. By 1962 the National Institute for Farm Safety was a recognized force in farm and home safety. A firm foundation had been established. Incorporation was the next logical step toward achieving a greater degree of professionalism.
Incorporation had been discussed on several occasions in the past but the final decision was made at the Florida meeting in July 1962. At the Florida meeting, eight or ten of the older members in years of experience and tenure, sat down and made plans for the formal organization. Randall Swanson of Wisconsin and Edward Adams of Iowa were designated to develop a preliminary draft of the constitution. They did this over a period of many weeks and eventually sent the proposed constitution out to 17 of the farm safety specialists and leaders who had five or more years of tenure in the organization. Every article and item was accompanied by a blank sheet to be used for suggested changes. Everyone used this method, and the final draft represented a majority opinion of the recipients of the proposed document. The amount of dues, classes of membership, voting rights, size of the board, and the remainder of the items were all decided by majority opinion.