May 2021
A monthly update for AgrAbility projects and friends of AgrAbility
AgrAbility All-Staff Meeting: Friday, May 21, 12:00 p.m. EDT. Join us for updates from NIFA, an introduction to Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, and more. Look for details in an email soon.
AgrAbility/North Central FRSAN webinar: "African American Farmers: Stress Issues and Solutions." Thursday, May 27, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. EDT. Register at

The National AgrAbility Project has started its fourth month of NTW virtual sessions. They have all been recorded and are available on the NAP website HERE. The next session is "Farmer Mental Health Trends, Risk Factors, and Stress Reduction Technique 'Mindful Living'" More
The NAP is currently planning an in-person Regional Workshop in Montana in collaboration with Western Regional Agricultural Stress Assistance Program. The workshop will be held at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center, August 9-11. More

The NAP met with its national advisory team for valuable feedback via Zoom on May 10. Also participating were Brad Rein and Victoria Finkenstadt of USDA/NIFA. The team is hoping to have an in-person meeting this July.
Toolbox Spotlight
By following these Added Step Plans, one can produce a device to help reduce strain on knees when climbing on or off the tractor, combine, or other equipment. The step flips up and down with a rope and stays in place while driving. (Those who don't need the extra step can simply leave it folded up, stepping on it in place.) The online instructions include a list of supplies needed as well as the text and pictures on how to make and mount the step.
California AgrAbility staff attended the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers virtual conference, "CA Coming Together," hosted by Ability Tools. Keynote speaker Alex Ghenis spoke about impacts of climate change on agriculture and individuals with disabilities. More

Staff attended the UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety monthly seminar on the topic of "Workplace Sexual Harassment Among (WSH) Men and Women Farmworkers in California, USA, and Michoacán, Mexico." More
California AgrAbility attended the 11th AgrAbility National Training Workshop virtual session, "Tips for Aging Farmers and Ranchers." Speakers Richard Brzozowski and Brie Weisman of Maine AgrAbility led an interactive seminar in which participants shared tips for working with aging farmers and ranchers, addressing physical, psychological, medical, and economic factors. More
Over the past few years, Colorado AgrAbility Project has accepted level-one interns to shadow staff and gain experience with being on farms and ranches to observe CO AgrAbility's method of assessment. More
The entire Georgia AgrAbility team was trained and certified in Mental Health First Aid. In addition, Rebecca Brightwell is certified as a Mental Health First Aid trainer. This training will give staff the skills they need to reach out and provide initial help and support to a farmer who may be developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis.

Staff had a meeting with a Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency assistive work technology engineer to develop training for counselors on working with farming clients.
Dr. Glen Rains participated in a podcast to explain the fundamentals of digging safety. The podcast is part of the Georgia Farm Bureau podcast series called Growing On that focuses on current events, agricultural policies, and farmer health/safety.
Staff has been filming the spring cotton planting of a client that received a GPS unit through Georgia Vocation Rehabilitation Agency. The client is already seeing the increase in efficiency that the unit can provide him.

Staff attended the Western Regional Agricultural Stress Assistance Program Networking Quarterly Meeting. It was great to hear about all of the wonderful work that the program is leading.
Indiana AgrAbility, the Indiana Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and Hoosier Uplands Economic Development Corporation hosted a full-day, in-person workshop for military veterans interested in farming and agriculture on April 7 at Purdue's Feldun Agricultural Center near Bedford, Indiana. Indiana's 9th District Congressman, U.S. Representative Trey Hollingsworth, attended the workshop, made brief remarks, and visited with veterans about their agricultural interests. More
Kansas AgrAbility Project (KAP) staff welcomed Steve Swain with Indiana AgrAbility to their monthly virtual staff meeting to discuss offering KAP customers more information on business planning. More

KAP Coordinator Tawnie Larson continues to work with SAVE Farm (Servicemember Agriculture Vocational Education) on its wellness committee by providing tips on using people-first language and offering stress-relieving exercises in the classroom and out in the field.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine AgrAbility were recently awarded an Extension Risk Management Education Grant to support their Boots-2-Bushels (B2B) program. More

During April 2021, both Richard Brzozowski and Anne Devin joined Zoom events for the "So You Think You Want to Farm" educational program to talk about AgrAbility resources for farmers with disabilities in Maine as well as resources specifically for veterans interested in farming in Maine.
During April, staff used outreach efforts to engage new audiences in Maine, including sharing resources with Native American tribes and commercial fishermen. Brie Weisman, OT, has started a monthly news post to the Commercial Fisheries News publication. More

Working in collaboration with Utah and North Carolina AgrAbility programs, Richard Brzozowski introduced the new publication Using Checklists to Increase Productivity on the Farm: tips and tricks for using checklists for daily chores at the farm, while promoting productivity.
Maine AgrAbility has designed fuel identification stickers for use on farm tractors to help prevent potential mechanical issues and production downtime if the wrong fuel is mistakenly used.

Be sure to check out our most recent news and blog posts: More
The First Annual Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) Golf Outing benefiting Michigan AgrAbility was held on April 17. The golf outing took place at Forest Akers Golf Course at Michigan State University. More

Michigan AgrAbility staff continue their educational outreach efforts by posting assistive technology ideas to make farming jobs easier for their Facebook visitors. More

Surveillance for farm-related injuries in Michigan began in 2015. Records from Michigan's hospitals/emergency departments are used to identify farm-related injuries in farmers and farm workers. More
Missouri AgrAbility focused its social media efforts on a variety of topics. More

Additionally, Missouri published its 2021 Mental Health Awareness Month Toolkit in partnership with the Show-Me Farm Safety Committee and Farm and Ranch Alliance Network. The 2021 Mental Health Toolkit is found here.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Cole Camp, MO, was excited to welcome two of the Peterson Farm Brothers ( to share about farming and faith at the Jaycee Gardens on Thursday, April 22nd. More

Missouri AgrAbility in partnership with the Farm and Ranch Stress Alliance Network team also hosted its first Q.P.R. (Question, Persuade, and Refer) online Gatekeepers training April 21. More

April 1, Governor Mike Parson joined the Governor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans and their Families, a partnership through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More
Mr. Nahshon Bishop, Mrs. Susan Jaster, Mrs. Kendra Graham, and Mr. David Middleton presented for the National AgrAbility Conference. More

Other MO AgrAbility events throughout April included a variety of efforts. More

David Baker, director of Missouri Assistive Technology, presented "Assistive Technology for Learning and Living" at the Brain Injury Association of Missouri Survivor & Family Seminar on April 24. More
Staff spent two days in two Nebraska towns teaching third and fourth grade youth about sleep benefits relating to agricultural safety and health at Progressive Ag Safety Days.

A staff member attended the District 4 FFA Career Fair and talked with over 400 students about AgrAbility... More

The Drake University occupational therapy student working this semester with Nebraska AgrAbility is completing a case-study learning module project covering common farm and ranch tasks and culture. More
North Carolina
NC AgrAbility participates as a board member of the Carolinas Heat Health Coalition, seeking to increase knowledge and provide solutions to one of the most critical issues of climate change.

NC AgrAbility Partnership continues to serve the needs of farmers with disabilities and increase the networking capacity at the state level.

The NC AgrAbility staff is preparing to resume normal activities on campus and outside the campus by July 1, 2021. Activities include regular office work, meetings, and outdoor and indoor events.
Jim Burnside is a farmer in Central Ohio. After a cancer diagnosis made it harder for him to tend to his cattle, make hay, and grow his garden, he sought help through AgrAbility. Walking for long periods of time and getting up on the tractor were difficult for him. More

Ohio AgrAbility staff had the opportunity to present an overview of Ohio AgrAbility to Dr. Dee Jepsen's agricultural health and safety class in April. More
Staff members Abbie Spackman and Linda Fetzer partnered with Penn State Extension's farm stress team to host and teach "Communicating with Farmers Under Stress" in an online workshop format. More
The duo also presented an NTW virtual session, "Table Talk: Assistive Tech for Women in Ag," on a Zoom session set up by the National AgrAbility Project (NAP). Lots of tips, products, and information were shared among attendees. More

Staff members spent time in April planning and preparing for a mix of hybrid events (in-person and virtual) with AgrAbility PA's key partners and stakeholders. More
It was a happy day when some of the TN AgrAbility team and the University of TN Extension staff were able to meet in-person for the first time in over a year! Wearing masks and outside a lot, TNAP attended the TN Association of Agricultural Agents and Specialists (TAAA&S) annual meeting and professional development in Memphis. More
While in Memphis, TNAP celebrated Happy Earth Day with a great visit to a Memphis urban farm with a mission: Alpha Omega Veterans Services which assists military veterans in reintegrating into society. More
TNAP received a phone call referral from Mrs. Paula Terhune. She had read the winter TNAP article and wanted to donate assistive technology from her late husband, Dr. Ronald L. Terhune, M.D., of Arlington, TN. More
TNAP exhibited at the annual TN Veterans Business (TVBA) Expo and Job Fair with Farmer Veteran Coalition of TN for great networking and partnerships.
Texas AgrAbility collaborated on an educational blog post for Stress Awareness Month titled "Managing Farm Related Stress and Depression." The article includes information on stress awareness and tips for managing stress and depression on the farm. Check out the blog post here.

Ellie Gandara-Castillo presented to a cultural pluralism in agriculture class on the unique needs of farmers and ranchers with disabilities.

Makenzie Thomas recorded a training video for Extension agents on the services provided by Texas AgrAbility. The video will be highlighted as a professional development topic in May.
Texas AgrAbility staff visited Cleaton's 4E Farms for a follow-up visit after recommendations were funded through Vocational Rehabilitation. The client demonstrated various assistive technologies and shared how they have impacted his ability to continue farming and expand his market garden and nursery operation.
AgrAbility of Utah staff was happy to attend the Utah Pork Producers Association's Annual Membership Meeting on April 9 in Bluffdale, Utah. A display table was set up and staff visited with and explained AgrAbility to many of the attendees.

On April 15, AgrAbility of Utah staff attended the San Juan County Crop School Conference in Monticello, UT. More

AgrAbility of Utah staff were able to meet online with staff from the Utah Office of Rehabilitation on April 15 to discuss concerns and answer questions about each other's organizations.

Program Coordinator Randall Bagley and a current AgrAbility client, Ned Nelson, were interviewed by Tom Williams of Utah Public Radio on April 15 during their Access Utah program. More

On April 26, AgrAbility of Utah was able to virtually attend and explain AgrAbility to 30 members of the Cache Interagency Council. More
AgrAbility Virginia is currently working with 18 farmer clients at various levels of engagement and need, including beginning farmers in Grayson, Patrick, Lunenburg, Chesterfield, and Clarke Counties.

One AgrAbility client in Bland County with cerebral palsy was awarded $700 through the Easterseals UCP Bellows Fund to purchase a second automatic cattle gate opener.

Program Coordinator Garland Mason is completing the 2021 AgrAbility Virginia program evaluation with expected report early summer.

AgrAbility Virginia and North Carolina AgrAbility have published a weekly radio advertisement throughout April and May during "On the Farm Radio" segments. Listen to them here.
AgrAbility Virginia staff traveled to Richmond and Petersburg at the end of April to visit the Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Rehab Engineering Lab and the VSU Randolph Farm in addition to farm site visits.

AgrAbility Virginia team hosted a "First Friday" informational webinar for Virginia Cooperative Extension agents on May 7.
The Washington State AgrAbility Project (WSAP) team is constructing a Pathway to Services resource and has provided various entities with a survey and initial inquiry to learn about each other's services. As a result, a coordinated effort to serve Native American farmers and ranchers is underway in partnership with the WSU Tribal Extension liaison.

WSAP has been working with six veteran farms throughout the state and learning how they work as well as how AgrAbility can help. Staff will be making farm visits with a pop-up booth at each location to demonstrate lending library tools.

WSAP has purchased a comprehensive assistive technology lending library for Ferry County, one of the most remote parts of the state and country. This will increase availability and accessibility of AT for farmers and ranchers in eastern Washington.

WSAP ordered masks with the program logo as well as silicone inserts to enhance breathability (low-cost AT solution) for distribution to farmers and farmworkers across the state.
AgrAbility of Wisconsin held a successful 2021 Virtual Summit with 50 total participants and 30 participants attending on each of the three days. They learned more about FSA programs, farmer health insurance, and how the Wisconsin Farm Center can help with farmer wellness and financials.

As staff looks towards summer, they hope to be able to get back out and see more people in person and attend a few upcoming events.
AgrAbility for Africa
On November 1 and 2, the AgrAbility for Africa staff will be hosting the inaugural Annual AgrAbility for Africa Training Workshop that had been earlier scheduled for April 27-28, 2020, at Lake Victoria Hotel, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic-related restrictions. More
This past month, AgrAbility Specialist Ellen Gibson announced her retirement from Maine AgrAbility effective April 14. Ellen was with us from the start in 2010. We truly appreciate all that Ellen has accomplished during her tenure with Maine AgrAbility - her creative ideas, informative blogs, presentations on gardening with limitations, practical checklists, her kindness to and care of clients, and much more. Ellen will be missed by our team and our clients. We wish her the best as she starts a new chapter of life!
Congratulations to TNAP staff Eileen Legault for receiving the 2021 TN Association of Agricultural Agents and Specialists Early Career Award for the Eastern Region.

Congratulations to Dr. Derrick Stowell, UT Gardens Educator and part-time TN AgrAbility staff member who oversees statewide therapeutic gardening workshops for Tennessee Veterans, TNAP customers, and the University of Tennessee and UT Gardens Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program that was recently accredited by the American Horticultural Therapy Association. Program registration will be available pending the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approval. For more information please visit:
Problems? Contact Chuck Baldwin, National AgrAbility Project,

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