Rain did not deter 16 local youngsters from attending Optimist Club of Farragut’s 19th Annual Lawnmower Safety Clinic.
The youths, from fourth-graders to high school seniors, and their parents turned out for the free event, which took place in Mayor Bob Leonard Park off Watt Road Saturday, April 22. Optimist Club members partnered with Danny Bullington, a retired 4-H Extension agent; Sharon Davis, Knox County 4-H Extension agent, and Rural/Metro Fire Department to teach attendees how to safely use lawn mowers and weed trimmers and how to start their own lawn-mowing business.
The club also partnered with Bratton Davis of Farragut Lawn & Tractor, who demonstrated how to safely use a weed trimmer and donated a trimmer for a drawing prize.
“I’ll be talking about wearing protective gear — shoes, glasses, ear plugs and long pants and how to maintain the trimmer,” Davis said before the clinic started.
David Hicks said he brought his grandson, Merric Gresham, 11, so Merric could learn to use a lawn mower safely.
“I’ve already got him a riding mower,” Hicks said.
Brothers Ethan and Nelson Creech, teen 4-H members, talked about their experience in starting their lawn-mowing business.
“We used our grandfather’s mower,” Ethan said. “Afterward, we got our own mower. We mowed our grandfather’s yard and then his neighbor’s yard. Then, we added other yards.
“We then bought some weed trimmers and used those,” Ethan added. “We now have six or seven lawns from Maryville to Halls.”
The teens charge $45 to $50 for big yards and $15 to $20 for small yards, he said.
Ethan recommended the youths wear jeans, a T-shirt and ball cap when talking to a prospective customer.
“If you are wearing sunglasses, don’t forget to take them off before you talk to someone,” he said.
Bullington said reliability is the No. 1 concern — and obstacle — for a youth starting a business.
“You have to prove [customers] can count on you,” he said. “You have to make life decisions.”
If a youth is scheduled to mow a customer’s lawn and it is raining, Ethan said the youth must call ahead and tell the customer he or she will not be coming.
“Don’t just not show up,” Bullington said. “You are a business person; they are your clients.”
Nelson talked to attendees about mowing techniques, such as using a sharp blade.
“Make sure it’s sharp so you cut the grass, not rip the grass,” he said, adding ripped grass will turn brown.
Rural/Metro firefighters David Sellers and John Cresswell also gave safety tips regarding storing gas, filling up gas containers, wearing appropriate clothing and safety glasses.
“Make sure the lawn mower is cool before you add fuel to it,” Sellers said. “Don’t start a lawn mower in the garage or other enclosed space.”
He added starting a lawn mower or other gas-powered engine could emit carbon monoxide.