North Dakota Crossing Guard Takes Top Honor for Keeping Kids Safe
Dressed in his Grand Forks County Sheriff’s uniform and wielding his fluorescent stop sign flag, crossing guard Bob Rost commands the respect of both drivers and pedestrians on their way to and from Kelly Elementary School in Grand Forks, North Dakota. “See me now or see me later,” says Rost with a smile, as he explains the message he communicates to drivers every day: Slow down when entering the school’s road safety zone.
With close to 10,000 votes from the public, Rost was recently chosen as America’s Favorite Crossing Guard for 2018, an annual contest held by Safe Kids Worldwide. Fifty-five crossing guards from 19 states competed for the title.
“It’s an honor to be nominated and then to be selected as the winner…I’m overwhelmed,” Rost said.
Rost has been a crossing guard for 13 years, but says his passion for it began more than 49 years ago, when he was in the fourth grade. Growing up in Bellevue, Washington, Rost served in the American Automobile Association’s crossing guard program in grades 4-6. His inspiration was Sergeant Fitzpatrick, a Washington State Patrol Officer who served as a crossing guard Safety Supervisor. At that time in Rost’s life, he set his sights on becoming a law enforcement officer.
Every day he sees distracted drivers and pedestrians. Drivers text, eat, and put on makeup while behind the wheel. Pedestrians are distracted too and not watching where they are going. “It seems like nobody eats breakfast before leaving home,” Rost says, “Kids are eating toaster strudels or looking at their cell phones while walking.” Rost’s advice? “Drivers need to pay attention to the road and be buckled-up – all passengers need to be buckled-up too – pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings.”
When asked what keeps him going, Rost says “It’s all about the kids. I want them to know that law enforcement officers are their friends. They high-five me, talk to me, and share their problems with me. These kids are the future. If you instill safety thinking in them now, they will carry it forward into adulthood and will be the problem solvers of the future.”
Regarding America’s Favorite Crossing Guard sponsor FedEx, Rost says, “FedEx has been huge around here, getting involved with school safety. FedEx is involved in this community and across the United States.” Though he will be retiring at the end of 2018, Rost says he plans to keep volunteering as a crossing guard.