North Middle School Student Sam Mahon Poses In Front of Railroad Safety Sign

Sioux City, Iowa -  A passion for trains has led one North Middle School student to become an advocate for railroad safety.

Seventh grader Sam Mahon has long been interested in trains. A Boy Scout, Sam was working on a railroad merit badge for Boy Scouts when he discovered Operation LifeSaver (OPI), a non-profit organization dedicated to rail safety education. After learning more about the organization’s work, Sam was hooked.

“Hardly anyone knows about railroad safety,” says Sam, who is also involved in 4-H and school choir. “Did you know that it is illegal to go on tracks and take photos? Lots of people do this, but it is trespassing." 

To spread awareness about railroad safety, Sam researched everything he could about OPI and developed an exhibit for the county fair. He received a grand champion recognition, and his exhibit went on to the state fair. The opportunity allowed Sam to teach more people about the importance of rail safety.

“People are surprised to know that you don’t always hear or see a train. People are hit by trains in our country every day,” Sam adds. 

Sam is currently in the process of completing official training with OPI to receive certification, allowing him to do future exhibits at the Sioux City Railroad Museum and at school. Sam also stays busy as a participant with First Tee of Siouxland, community involvement with animal rescue and the Gospel Mission, and camping when time allows.

Long after the state fair, Sam remains committed to doing his part to keep local railroads the safest they can be.

“I think people are surprised that tracks are more dangerous than you think.”