September 2023
A monthly update for AgrAbility projects and friends of AgrAbility
Saturday, September 16 is the last day to reserve a hotel room for the regional workshop, "Malama the Farmer, Caring for Yourself and Each Other," that is taking place at the Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hawai'i, October 17-18. Hotel reservations can be made by clicking on the hotel name above. More
AgrAbility All-Staff Virtual Meeting. Please to join the next all-staff virtual meeting October 30 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Look for email details prior to the meeting.
The AgrAbility Virtual State Fair returns in October! Visit and follow the Facebook and Twitter (X) pages for updates and encouraging success stories from a different AgrAbility project each day from October 2-25.
The requests for proposals and posters for the 2024 NTW are due November 1 and are available on the NTW Website. The event will be at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta/Buckhead, March 25-28, 2024. Rooms can be booked at the per diem rate of $173+taxes/fees by clicking on the hotel name above. More

Anyone wanting to join the NTW planning committee should send an email to Tess at [email protected].
National AgrAbility continues to promote the USDA Discriminaton Financial Assistance Program for eligible farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, including those with disabilities, who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. NAP recently added the Farmers’ Guide to USDA Discrimination Financial Assistance Program to its web page about the program. Applications are due October 31. More
AgrAbility/North Central Farm and Ranch Assistance Center webinar: "Farm Youth and Stress," Tuesday, September 26, 3:00 p.m. EDT. It's not just adults that experience stress. More

The AgrAbility National Training Workshop Encore Webinar Series continues each month through January. Tune in October 11 for “SARE Grants – Preparing a Proposal.” More
The National AgrAbility Project exhibited as part of the Health and Safety Tent at the 2023 Farm Progress Show at Decatur, Illinois. The exhibit included USDA Discrimination Financial Assistance Program information, AgrAbility brochures and case studies, assistive technology, and arthritis information.
Toolbox Spotlight
For those using wheelchairs or walkers, the T-Pull Door Closer provides a handle at the most advantageous location to maximize leverage for closing interior or exterior doors. The handle's shape, length, and swivel action reportedly allow for more ergonomic motion of one's arm and shoulder. Made of high-density plastic, the T-Pull tucks against the door when not in use. It can be mounted via 3M adhesive backing or the screws provided.
AKAgrAbility was represented again this year at the 2023 4-H Ag Expo on the Kenai Peninsula in early August. DeShana York along with ag & hort agent Casey Matney spoke with numerous people at the event and provided information about CES and AgrAbility. More

The AKAgrAbility team was very busy at the end of August through the first week in September with outreach engagements such as the Veteran Stand Down in Fairbanks and the Alaska Palmer Statewide Fair. More

Assistive Technology of Alaska hosted its second free virtual Tech Expo on September 12th & 14th. There were six sessions in total, starting with "AT for Farmers & Other Ag Workers."
The Colorado AgrAbility team met for their bi-monthly meeting at the Colorado State University's Spur Campus, in Denver. CSU Spur is home to active science and research and welcomes visitors of all ages. This unique campus is located on the National Western Stock Show grounds, where they continue to have a long-standing partnership.
During the month of August, the Florida AgrAbility staff conducted and participated in several different forms of outreach.

The Florida AgrAbility case coordinator attended the 2023 National Amputee Coalition conference in collaboration with the National Project from August 2nd-4th. The case coordinator operated a booth with National Project Manager Paul Jones. More

On August 17th, members of the Florida AgrAbility Project visited the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Tropical Aquaculture Lab in Ruskin, Florida. This visit included a facility tour, information about the tropical aquaculture industry in Florida,... More

On August 22, Florida AgrAbility hosted Chad Reznicek and Clinton Wilson as speakers for a webinar on "Promoting Resilience through SAMHSA's Eight Domains of Wellness." Chad and Clinton discussed eight dimensions of wellness as a holistic, strengths-based, and practical approach to increasing resilience and well-being. More
Georgia AgrAbility displayed the mobile learning lab at the Georgia Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association Summer Conference. The event was hosted in Tifton, Georgia. Teachers who braved the heat outside were able to learn about and try out assistive technology devices.

GA continued to share Mental Health First Aid for Military, Veterans, and their Families, in July, teaching two courses across the state in Athens and Tifton. Mental Health First Aid for Military, Veterans, and their Families is an evidence-based and early intervention training program... More

The veterans coordinator attended a lethal means safety course hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on August 9th to learn the impacts of availability and access to lethal means during a crisis and the various methods of limiting access to prevent the loss of life from suicide.

Staff had the opportunity to visit the Veteran's Farm of NC. Owner and Executive Director Robert Elliott has been essential in developing a program to provide agricultural training to transitioning service members. More

In addition to the MHFA for veterans, staff also taught QPR and MHFA for general community members with the majority of attendees being from the University of Georgia Extension. Staff are excited to be able to train Extension agents in this curriculum so that they can be prepared in case a farmer is experiencing a crisis.
On July 28th, Georgia AgrAbility staff presented a "Gardening and Farming with Arthritis" workshop. The interactive workshop showed participants different planting modifications, tool adaptations, and other effective strategies that can help in managing arthritis pain while managing farms and gardens.
The Meet at the Shed Program is continuing to offer workshops for men to come and fellowship with each other. On August 12th, GA staff had another wood carving class in which the participants carved a bear. This class was maxed out with participants, and they had a great time talking with each other and working on the project.

Georgia AgrAbility's partnership on mental health work with the Southern Region Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network was featured in the Atlanta Magazine regarding the Meet at the Shed Program.
Illinois AgrAbility has developed new marketing materials that are co-branded with Illinois AgrAbility and Illinois Extension. Items include pop-up banners (Spanish and English), tablecloths, brochures (Spanish and English), and giveaway items.
Illinois AgrAbility hosted the Health and Safety Tent at the 2023 Farm Progress Show held in Decatur, IL, on August 29-31. Representing 15 organizations across Illinois and the nation, the tent provided health and safety resources to farmers and the agricultural community as well as access to free health screenings and services. More
Indiana AgrAbility displayed brochures, client success stories, assistive technology, video case studies, and USDA Discrimination Financial Assistance Program information at the 2023 Indiana State Fair in the Corteva FFA Pavilion. More
Chuck Baldwin staffed an AgrAbility booth at the Indiana Amish Handicap [sic] Gathering in St. Joe, IN, August 26. More than 170 people participated in the gathering with the vast majority being Amish families impacted by disability. More
Boots-2-Bushels had its final in-person, on-farm visit at Grace Pond Farm in Thomaston, Maine. The focus was on small-scale organic livestock (chickens, turkeys, pigs) and dairy. There were 15 participants.
AgrAbility staff participated in an oyster farm workshop at Ice House Oysters in Port Clyde, Maine. Staff learned about the different aspects of growing and harvesting oysters and homed in on ergonomically appropriate methods of working and assistive technology to prevent wear and tear on the body.
Michigan AgrAbility staff attended Agro Expo with the AgrAbility display.

Staff also attended the Ottawa and Allegan Conservation Districts' joint field day, "Cultivating Resilient Farms", to promote AgrAbility programs and the farm stress counseling available through Easterseals MORC. Staff talked to many farmers and agency folks at each event, promoting AgrAbility services, and had some meaningful conversations with potential clients at both events.
Missouri AgrAbility focused its social media efforts around the promotion of health, safety, assistive technology, and personal well-being for farmers with disabilities, farm families, and stakeholders. Educational materials, dissemination of information, and program presentations are also geared toward meeting the diverse needs of Missouri farmers through inclusion, equity, and equality.
Missouri AgrAbility campus and Extension field faculty were also on hand to disseminate disability, physical and mental health, prevention, and personal well-being resources at the Missouri State Fair, August 10 - 20, in collaboration with the Show-Me Farm Committee:

Carey Portell-National Speaker and MO AgrAbility Ambassador has her own new show, "Cruisin' Cowgirl" at Carey shares how she and her family survived a fatal drunk driving crash, how she farms with disabilities, and how she pays it forward by inspiring and teaching others.

Lincoln University's Innovative Small Farmers' Outreach Program staff Mary Bolling and Haze Gaddie assisted the University of Missouri at the Show-Me Farm Safety booth at the Missouri State Fair, which ran from August 10-20, 2023.
Lincoln University ISFOP staff attended a training in Jefferson City, MO, August 14-16, 2023, and received updates on the Missouri AgrAbility program and a preview of an in-depth training to be held in October 2023.

Maureen Cunningham, executive director with the Brain Injury Association of Missouri (BIA-MO) and co-PI for Missouri AgrAbility, shared information about brain injury causes and effects with advisory board members of Missouri Rehab Services for the Blind, a Missouri AgrAbility partner. There was good discussion among the 15 attendees about Missouri AgrAbility during this presentation on August 3.

Lynn Winterberg, BIA-MO program associate, shared brain injury prevention information with an estimated 750 youth at the St. Louis Cardinals Redbird Rookies Health Fair on August 12 at Busch Stadium. This Missouri AgrAbility marketing activity included the distribution of Youth and Teen Activity Sheets and discussed brain injury prevention with future AgrAbility clients.

Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) staff participated in an in-service provided by Maureen Cunningham on August 16. This in-service focused on the effects of brain injury and resources with Missouri AgrAbility highlighted as a self-employment option for individuals.

Therapists with St. Luke's Rehab Hospital in St. Louis learned about Missouri AgrAbility through an in-service provided by Maureen Cunningham and distribution of the Brain Injury Resource Kits for Missouri AgrAbility marketing. This in-service was held on August 30.
2023 Nebraska State Fair - Older Nebraskans Day: located in the Raising Nebraska building at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, Nebraska, the AgrAbility booth was visited by dozens of fairgoers during Older Nebraskans Day on August 28. Emily Jacobson and Soni Cochran were on hand to answer questions and share information on AgrAbility. More
Occupational and physical therapists are invited to "Rehabilitating Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities." The day-long seminar is planned for Tuesday September 26, 2023, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. CDT, as an in-person course at the Park Clubhouse in Battle Creek, Nebraska, or via Live Zoom conferencing. It is sponsored by Nebraska AgrAbility. More
New Mexico
New Mexico AgrAbility Project (NMAP) presented to some 40+ attendees at the Farmer Stress Summit organized in Albuquerque, NM, by NMSU CES and NM Department of Ag, with many agency and Extension folks present who received a clearer picture of what exactly AgrAbility does and the projects NMAP is involved in.

NMAP met with representatives from the NM Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum along with a farmer who has recently benefitted from an NMAP evaluation. NMAP and the museum are working to create an exhibit to highlight the benefits of AgrAbility to food producers.

The NMAP farm site evaluator and a farmer presented at the NM Occupational Therapy Association 2023 Conference in Albuquerque. Though a small number of attendees were at the break-out session, all 140 OT professionals and students were introduced to AgrAbility through having the session on the schedule.

NMAP is planning a "Day on the Farm" event to train its Division of Vocational Rehabilitation team members in the ways that people with disabilities will and can continue to be functional food growers. Staff will do this in conjunction with a farmer who has benefitted from a NMAP assessment.

NMAP/UNM faculty are updating curricula to include a poster proposal for OT students to research and present relating to the work-needs of farmers with disabilities.
North Carolina
On August 4, , NC AgrAbility participated at the Hickory Nut Gap Farm Day in Fairview, NC. Approximately 45 people attended the event.

On August 9, NC AgrAbility presented at the Veteran Farm of NC in Cameron, NC, to veterans who want to become farmers.
NC A&T graduate student Evan Hairston presented his MS graduation project on August 22. The project is titled "Increasing the Visibility of NC AgrAbility Through Marketing Strategies."
Ohio AgrAbility staff were busy with outreach events in August. The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, hosted Farm Days August 8 - 13. Ohio AgrAbility and OSU Ag Safety and Health's program's Farm Hazard Hunt was a big hit with attendees. More
OAP staff attended the Southwest Ohio Corn Growers Agronomy Field Day and made connections with farmers, vendors, and Master Gardeners. It was a windy day (a great relief after the heat of the COSI event), and attendees were very interested to learn about AgrAbility services.
AgrAbility PA Case Coordinator Abbie Spackman was pleased to provide a training to Vocational Rehabilitation staff (OVR) on August 3rd. The training was a virtual presentation open to all OVR staff across the state. More
AgrAbility PA hosted the Rural Health and Safety Tent at Ag Progress Days! Penn State's Ag Progress Days is the state's largest outdoor agricultural exposition. It was held on Aug. 8-10 and was attended by over 40,000 farmers and farm families. More
South Carolina
The South Carolina AgrAbility team will continue working with their nonprofit, Able SC, in their commitment to the state in offering the AgrAbility program. The staff from AbleSC and Clemson were able to meet with assistive technology and vocational rehabilitation education and developed a plan to provide farmers in the state with resources that will benefit their commitment to agriculture.

The staff is also putting the final touches on the needs analysis that will be distributed throughout the state. The staff will continue to cross-educate each other on the benefits of disability services offered around the state to maintain the quality of agriculture in South Carolina.
Lauderdale County UT/TSU Extension showed their appreciation to their farm families in August by hosting a Farm Family Appreciation Day. TN AgrAbility & STAR Center were privileged to present to 40 farm families on services and examples of assistive technology tools offered through AgrAbility and STAR Center. More
It was a happy day delivering new assistive technology to Mr. Stapleton, a proud U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and farmer. He has mobility challenges after several knee and back surgeries and degenerative nerve damage. More
Frontline Gardens expanded outside TN with their first build in Colorado! Earlier this year, Stephanie Trost, one of the founders and part of the TN AgrAbility family, was contacted by The American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming and the Veterans Administration of Aurora, CO, which had been following their mission and wanted to expand Frontline Gardens in Colorado. More
Bradford FFA Alumni hosted their first Farm 2 Table event at the Cowen Blackberry Farm in Bradford, TN. The alumni wanted to showcase farm businesses and organizations in the county. TN AgrAbility was privileged to set up a display and visit with TN AgrAbility farmer Charles Cowen.
It is Fair time! TSU TN New Farmer Academy exhibited and shared TNAP information. TN AgrAbility assisted the TN Department of Ag in recruiting some of TNAP's veteran farmers to tell their stories at the TN State fair. Thank you to Ron Bridges, Farmer Veteran Coalition of TN past president, who taught about growing mushrooms. More

DeKalb County Cattlemen's Association wanted to get a jump on Farm Safety & Health Week and asked Joetta T. White with TN AgrAbility to speak at its August meeting. "Maintenance Is More Than A Grease Gun, and It Begins with YOU" was her topic. A steak dinner was provided for 36 DeKalb County farmers and their families.
The STAR Center and TN AgrAbility were honored to be joined by Governor Bill Lee and Maria Lee at the STAR Center! Staff are grateful for their support and their work to empower Tennesseans of all abilities. More
Texas AgrAbility staff attended the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course. The course is the largest beef cattle education event in the country. Staff members networked with producers and shared resources with agricultural vendors in attendance.

The Texas AgrAbility project advisory committee met for their quarterly meeting. A summary of the impact survey results was shared with members, and attendees shared resources and events for the fall.
Megan Peveto hosted a booth at the urban agriculture workshop in San Antonio. Resources, information, and assistive tools were utilized to promote Texas AgrAbility at the event.

A "Women in Agriculture" panel is scheduled for September 21 at 12:30 p.m. CDT. The panel will discuss the role of women in agricultural operations and share resources and tips for beginners. Click here to register.

Texas AgrAbility will host a webinar "Growing Safely: Safety Planning for Small Farms" on October 11 at 12:30 p.m. CDT.
AgrAbility of Utah staff was excited to join with Utah State University Extension and display a "Farm Safety Scavenger Hunt" exhibit at the Cache County Fair in Logan, Utah, on August 10th and 11th. The demonstration was seen by hundreds, and participants attempted to find all 13 unsafe farm practices.

On August 28th, AgrAbility of Utah staff presented to 35 members of the Cache Interagency Council in Logan, Utah.
AgrAbility Virginia is currently working with 33 open farmer client cases at various levels of engagement and need, including a goat and vegetable farmer with whom staff is looking into mobility equipment alternatives in collaboration with VSU Extension.

In addition to onboarding a new farmer, this month the team tabled at the Boots to Roots conference for veteran/military farmers in Rapidan, Virginia.
August kicked off fair season for many of Washington AgrAbility's team members and for Extension staff across the nation!

Don McMoran, Washington AgrAbility program director, met with Dr. Majit Misra, director of USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture), at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. More
Emily Whittier, Washington AgrAbility co-coordinator, attended the Clark County Fair just outside of Vancouver, WA; the Skamania County Fair, which took place right next to the beautiful Columbia River; and Klickitat County Fair and Rodeo. More
Debbie Frederick, Washington AgrAbility co-coordinator, attended the Grays Harbor Fair in Elma, WA, and the Pacific County Fair in Raymond, WA, where she met prominent members of the agricultural community and provided resources on AgrAbility.
Debbie toured the Port of Willipa and met with the manager to discuss safety concerns for fishermen and oystermen. She also met with the supervisor of Taylor Seafood and talked about possible demonstrations at their facility.
Deb Eidsness, Washington AgrAbility co-coordinator, attended the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, WA, where she tabled with AgrAbility information and resources.
Alyssa Wade, Washington AgrAbility co-coordinator, attended the Grant County Fair in Moses Lake, the Benton Franklin County Fair in Kennewick, WA, the Lincoln County Fair in Davenport, WA, and the Adams County Fair in Ritzville, WA. She shared AgrAbility and farm stress resources at every event and had amazing conversations with many farmers about the program.
AgrAbility of Wisconsin received a $5,000 general use grant from Compeer Financial, a part of the Farm Credit system. The purpose of the grant is to enhance digital resources, and work is being done to update the project's website and video. Look for a final version soon!
AgrAbility of Wisconsin hosted a Neighbor-to-Neighbor event on August 8 at the Stinson Family Farm in Westby, Wisconsin. Attendees had the chance to tour Doug and Becky Stinson's 70-head beef operation and learn more about the ways Doug has incorporated assistive technology into his farm and everyday life. More
AgrAbility for Africa
AgrAbility for Africa is constantly increasing its research to learn and test innovations in low-tech assistive technology for farmers in Rural Africa to boost employment and social independence. This research is a crucial step to closing the gap in assistive technology access.
AgrAbility for Africa staff members work to connect mentees who want to start their own agricultural operations with experienced mentors. They do this because they believe that improved knowledge of the most recent farming techniques has been useful in inspiring and encouraging youth with disabilities to join the industry and increase their overall social participation. More
In August, Florida AgrAbility staff welcomed a new communication and engagement specialist, Shelby Thomas.
We are saying goodbye to Anne Martin who has been with Maine AgrAbility since 2018. Anne was instrumental in establishing the Boots-2-Bushels program to work with veterans and all beginning farmers. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors on the west coast!
We are thrilled to say hello to our new director, Izzy Ruffin! Izzy has experience working on farms with diverse production fields. She has spent the last year and a half as the coordinator for the Maine Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, focusing on farmer and farmworker mental health. Izzy is excited to expand her knowledge to further include a focus on physical health, as well as work with aquaculture and forestry professions. She knows firsthand the toll that farming can take on one's body and looks forward to the opportunity to help reduce those impacts for others, ensuring they can farm successfully with the right knowledge, tools, and adaptations.
Heather Leuenberger joins Nebraska AgrAbility serving as rural rehabilitation specialist. Heather has lived in southeast Nebraska her entire life. Her grandfather was a farmer and that's where she learned to love being outdoors and to appreciate agriculture. Heather shares that her family also has a background in beekeeping. Prior to joining AgrAbility, Heather was a teacher. She worked with speech-language pathologists and, in addition to teaching students in grades 3-5, worked in a behavioral disorders classroom. More
AgrAbility PA welcomes new staff member! Joyce Brkopac joined AgrAbility PA in August as a community specialist in assistive technology services at UCP of Central PA. She will be assisting with marketing and outreach. Joyce has a background in working with adults with developmental disabilities. She is a veteran who served in the US Navy for 11 years, and she currently works with her fiancé on their farm raising beef and growing crops. She is also the primary caregiver for her mother who has a diagnosis of dementia. Her background and experiences make her an excellent fit for AgrAbility! Please welcome her to the team! [email protected]
South Carolina
The staff at AgrAbility SC would like to announce the addition of Maryann "Shelley" Lovern to our team. She will be helping with two related subjects: AgrAbility and farm safety. The staff is excited to have her and her ability to help with AgrAbility throughout the state of South Carolina.
Click titles below for news stories featuring AgrAbility projects.

Click titles below for other news of interest to AgrAbility staff members.
Problems? Contact Chuck Baldwin, National AgrAbility Project, [email protected]

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