December 2020 / January 2021
A monthly update for AgrAbility projects and friends of AgrAbility
Save the dates!!! The 2020-2021 NTW is going virtual.
We all know that the 2020 NTW had to be cancelled, and with the uncertainty of the current pandemic, staff have chosen not to try to schedule an in-person 2021 NTW. In place of both of those, the planning committee has chosen to do weekly educational sessions on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. ET from February 2- August 30, 2021. Some of the sessions will run an hour and some will run 1.5 hours to model the sessions at the NTW. These sessions will be presented over Zoom and will be open to anyone interested. A schedule for the first two months and a registration link will be available on the NTW tab of the NAP website HERE.

If you have any questions, please contact Tess or JoBeth

Staff are looking forward and would like to plan an in-person Regional Workshop or two, possibly for late Spring or Summer 2021. Depending on what is happening with the Covid-19 virus at that time, everyone may have to adjust, but staff are hoping that smaller, in-person events will be possible by then. If you think that you might be interested in hosting a Regional Workshop in conjunction with Goodwill and NAP please contact Tess or JoBeth

The webinar: "An Overview of the USDA/NIFA Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) with Focus on the North Central Region" is now archived at

NAP partner Goodwill of the Finger Lakes conducted its first virtual regional workshop on December 1, 3, and 4 with focus on focus on AgrAbility, farm stress, and mental health. Special thanks to Abbie Spackman of AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians for her presentation on agricultural worksite assessments. Workshop archives should be available soon.
The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) held their annual conference on a farm outside of Boydton, Virginia, October 31 - November 1, 2020. This year, the National AgrAbility Project (NAP) sent two staff members - Ed Sheldon, NAP farmer veteran job coach and engagement coordinator, and Chuck Baldwin, NAP underserved populations outreach coordinator. More
Toolbox Spotlight
The twin-lever-steered, electric-powered Not-A-Wheelchair Off-Road Mobility Vehicle, which is designed to navigate most any terrain, reportedly has a maximum speed of 12 mph and travel range of 10-20 miles (if one battery) and 25-35 (if two). It's designed to be lightweight and small enough (5 feet long, 32 inches wide) to fit in a pickup or van. At $4,750, it's priced more modestly than similar products.
During the week of December 7, partner agency ATLA (Assistive Technology of Alaska) hosted a virtual lunch and learn series with a wide variety of assistive technology topics including, but not limited to, Navigating ATLA Programs, AT for Everyday Independence, and AT for Improving Mental Health and Reducing Isolation. Each webinar had real-time captions and a sign language interpreter to increase the accessibility for all participants. There was a total of 75 participants throughout the week.

Some AgrAbility staff attended the 2020 Intertribal Agriculture Virtual Conference.

In January, some AgrAbility staff attended the 2021 Virtual American Farm Bureau Convention.
California AgrAbility hosted and presented at the Promotores Virtual Meeting, an online event presenting essential resources in times of COVID-19 for community grassroots leaders. More

Staff joined the webinar hosted by Colorado AgrAbility titled "Biological Factors Associated with Farm and Ranch Stress and Suicide Risk." Dr. Stallones spoke of the stress diathesis model of suicide. More

California AgrAbility joined the overview webinar for the USDA/NIFA Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) with Focus on the North Central Region. Brent Elrod from USDA spoke about farm stress and the need for this new FRSAN project. More
California AgrAbility participated in the monthly Health Window providers' meeting hosted by the Health Education Council (HEC). The meeting started with the introduction of HEC's new executive, Nicamer Tolentino. Through binational health celebrations, the Health Window helped coordinate agencies to promote their respective health events for this campaign. More

California AgrAbility joined the regional workshop on stress and mental health presented by National AgrAbility. More
Staff joined the monthly Ability Tools meeting. The meeting began with the presentation of CFILC (CA Foundation for Independent Living Centers) and the Digital Access Project. The project targets individuals who do not have digital skills and provides them with the right to internet access. More
This has been a strange year for all. For most of the year, AgrAbility staff have been restricted from performing on-farm visits due to COVID-19 protocols. More

Other than that, Colorado staff spent many hours learning as much as they could about virtual meeting platforms and webinars in preparation for the new format to be used with their Winter Workshops.
AgrAbility in Georgia and North Carolina recently collaborated on assisting a farmer. More
Georgia AgrAbility has had several new referrals, and field staff have been busy conducting site visits.

Three FarmAgain staff members attended the virtual "Veterans Farming Through Adversity", the sixth national Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference hosted by Farmer Veteran Coalition. More
Kansas Rehabilitation Services continued its collaboration with Kansas AgrAbility (KAP) in training new vocational rehabilitation counselors. More

Although Kansas AgrAbility's home is at Kansas State University, they also work with the University of Kansas through SKIL, their non-profit partner. More
Kelly Smith and Lani Carlson presented an AgrAbility 101 workshop for Vocational Rehabilitation counselors in the Augusta regional office, as well as a webinar as part of the Department of Health and Human Services disability awareness month activities.

Maine AgrAbility is excited to have launched registration for the 2021 Boots to Bushels (B2B) programming. More

Maine AgrAbility is continuing to develop new tools for outreach and education. One project is developing a pain management and assessment tool for farmers to use, and a video to illustrate the concept. More

Be sure to check out Maine AgrAbility's most recent news and blog posts: More
Michigan AgrAbility is honored to serve those who served. Jed Welder, army ranger veteran, served tours in Iraq and Iran. After retiring from the military, he returned home to the family farm to raise corn, soybeans, and wheat. Pivoting to watch operations going on behind the tractor or combine was becoming increasingly more difficult and painful. More

The Michigan AgrAbility 2020 Year-In-Review newsletter was distributed the first week of December. More

The Michigan AgrAbility Farmer Panel met on December 3 to review Michigan AgrAbility's 2020 activities and offer comments and encouragement to Michigan AgrAbility staff to continue the "good work they do" to assist farmers in Michigan.
MSU Mechanical Engineering seniors take part in a capstone project each semester. Michigan AgrAbility sponsored two design teams for the Fall 2020 semester. One designed a spring system for pulling the cord on a small engine to make it easier to start for workers with shoulder injuries. More
The second team sponsored by Michigan AgrAbility designed a man-lift swing arm with a seat to safely assist farmers getting into their tractor cabs. As many of you know, farmers are an innovative group, and many have built their own man-lifts to provide easy access to their equipment. More
Missouri AgrAbility co-sponsored "Pixels of Production," an online conference for women in agriculture, November 5, 10, 12 and 17. More

Missouri AgrAbility staff members attended the 2020 Midwest Rural Agricultural Safety and Health Virtual Conference, "Rising to New Challenges," November 17-20. More

Missouri AgrAbility continues to lay the foundation for the Heroes to Hives first state chapter. More

Staff members from MU Extension were involved with facilitating MO AgrAbility client farmers focus group meetings and engagement activities with agriculture-related stakeholders and social service agencies to share programmatic impacts and outcomes. More

The "Heroes to Hives" collaborative beekeeping program with Michigan State University continues to make inroads. More

Karen Funkenbusch was a panelist for the MU Extension Creating Our Culture of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Fireside Conversation, "University of Missouri Disability and Differently Abled Individuals." More

Missouri AgrAbility focused its social media efforts on promoting programs and resources from their partner programs and organizations that support clients. More

Pharm to Farm, a Missouri AgrAbility partner, and UMKC School of Pharmacy have developed and are finalizing educational brochures for Missouri AgrAbility clients to educate about safe use of medicine on the farm. More

The Missouri AgrAbility Project (MAP) and the Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program (ISFOP) spoke to the Southwest Missouri Veterans Coalition via Zoom on November 6, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. More

Mr. Nahshon Bishop and Mrs. Karen Funkenbusch have been developing drone curriculum for farmers with disabilities. More

Maureen Cunningham with the Brain Injury Association of Missouri (BIA-MO) reminded individuals about the Missouri AgrAbility Project and highlighted the Heroes to Hives program during a BIA-MO support group meeting in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, November 2.

The Heroes to Hives Missouri Chapter and upcoming class were also a highlight of the BIA-MO Networking Coffee for Professionals in Springfield, Missouri, November 19 and in St. Louis December 1, 2020. More
Nebraska AgrAbility staff continues to attend continuing education sessions one to two times a week. More

Staff members contributed to MRASH (Midwest Rural Agricultural Safety and Health) conference sessions, one leading a 15-minute stretching session for attendees. More

Staff offered the "Communicating with Farmers Under Stress" virtual workshop in three sessions during November: one for the public, one for USDA enumerators, and one for Department of Health and Human Services Nebraska Strong Recovery Project employees.

Beginning February, Nebraska AgrAbility will be participating in a doctoral capstone experience with an occupational therapy student from Drake University.
North Carolina
NC AgrAbility hosted the "AgrAbility/LIFE Project 1890 Land Grant Institutions Virtual Workshop." Two 1-hour educational sessions were offered each day November 2, 5, 9, and 12. More

NC AgrAbility Partnership participated as an exhibitor at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference on November 4-8. More

November 18-19, NC AgrAbility Partnership participated as a virtual exhibitor at the Farmer Veteran Coalition Conference.

Beatriz Rodriguez presented at the NC Commerce Agricultural Services Annual Conference held on November 16, 18 and 20. More
On December 3 in Greensboro, NC., NCA&T SU Agribusiness and Food Industry Management undergraduate students under the leadership of Dr. Kenrett Jefferson-Moore presented projects. The students worked during the semester on two case studies for two NC AgrAbility farmers. More
NC AgrAbility participated at the Ag Expo Conference in Wilmington, NC, on December 5-7 facilitated by the NC Agribusiness Council. Dr. Crystal Kyle presented "Farm Safety and Health: Mental Health, working with farmers with disabilities, and using technology on farms." More

On December 6, Beatriz Rodriguez provided a lecture to the NCSU bio engineering students for their ag safety class. More
Ohio AgrAbility has been featured in two cover story magazine articles this fall - one in the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperative magazine, and one in AgMag, written by Rural Rehabilitation Coordinator Rachel Jarman and Makenzie Thomas from Texas AgrAbility. More

OAP held the bi-annual advisory committee meeting November 16. OAP staff shared accomplishments from 2020, and were proud to see that the number of presentations (webinars, workshops, coffee and conversations) were the same in 2020 as in 2019 More

OAP staff presented a short overview of Fitness for Farm Life at the OSU Extension Annual Conference, and continues to develop resources and videos for the Fitness for Farm Life train-the-trainer program.
Milder weather in the Mid-Atlantic region continued into the months of November and December - allowing AgrAbility PA to continue with its scheduled farm assessments. Abbie Spackman, project assistant, visited a farmer who recently received a Life Essentials AG platform lift that will enable him to access his combine. More
AgrAbility PA participated in a number of online and virtual opportunities to network and raise awareness about the project, including the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Annual Conference, Farmer Veteran Coalition conference, and a presentation to NRCS field staff about AgrAbility, disability awareness, person-first language, and working with farmers who have disabilities.
AgrAbility PA has added new, educational articles written specifically for farmers and agricultural workers with a disability or long-term health condition who are working in production agriculture. More

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy 2021!
Thanksgiving 2020, TN AgrAbility was grateful for every day they assisted a farmer with a disability adapt and overcome their disability, live an independent life, and continue farming!

After participating in the first virtual National Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) Stakeholders meeting, "2020 Veterans Farming Through Adversity," TNAP left energized to continue helping veterans with disabilities. More

The Trosts are one of TN AgrAbility's families who are making a difference for other veterans impacted by disability! Stephanie and Michael are a wealth of knowledge about veteran programs and always a call away to help another veteran family! More

December 2020 for the TNAP team was filled with emails, Zooms, phone conversations, texts, brainstorming, and editing for the 2021-2025 RFA Assistive Technology Program for Farmers with Disability (AgrAbility) proposal.
Texas AgrAbility staff conducted two farm assessments in the Panhandle. An engineer from West Texas A&M University assisted with the assessment and will be coordinating students to assist with modifications to equipment.
Texas AgrAbility staff collaborated with the Texas A&M nutrition department to explore possibilities of adapting food handler training for individuals with disabilities. The training is being planned for high school students with disabilities transitioning into the workforce in agriculture and food sector occupations.
Texas AgrAbility published a blog post titled "Farm Stress During the Holidays." The post shares tips and resources for managing stress during the holiday season. Check out the post here.
Twenty-six military veterans and beginning farmers & ranchers were admitted to the ninth cohort of the BattleGround to Breaking Ground program. Participants will gain 16 weeks of online business planning education followed by 100 hours of hands-on training and production agriculture courses.
Texas AgrAbility and BattleGround to Breaking Ground will be hosting a virtual workshop series starting in March titled "Funding the Farm." The workshop series will highlight farm and ranch funding resources such as USDA, Texas Department of Agriculture, and much more. Details will be coming soon!

Texas AgrAbility staff revised the project advisory committee for 2021. The 14-member committee is composed of clients, past participants, agriculture field representatives, disability service providers, migrant and Hispanic farmworker personnel, and military veteran agencies. The committee will advise the project on current goals, communities served, and future program opportunities.
AgrAbility of Utah was able to do AgrAbility training for the Northern Utah Vocational Rehabilitation District on Nov. 2 in Logan, UT. More

On Nov. 2, AgrAbility of Utah attended the Cache Interagency Council's monthly meeting and gave a brief description of the AgrAbility program. More

AgrAbility of Utah is preparing and looking forward to its annual Advisory Board meeting on Dec. 1. This year's meeting will be virtual and will include several new members.

AgrAbility of Utah held its first-ever virtual Advisory Board meeting on Dec. 1. The meeting went very well, and AgrAbility of Utah appreciates the 18 board members who attended and gave valuable insight and advice for our program.
AgrAbility Virginia is actively working with eight farmer clients at various levels of engagement and need, including a beginning farmer in southwest Virginia who is pursuing a diversified enterprise that may include cut flowers and poultry.

AgrAbility Virginia participated in the Virginia Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition virtual conference November 12 and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia virtual conference November 14.

AgrAbility Virginia partners at Virginia Tech have published the Farm Safety, Health, & Wellness Toolkit. The toolkit and additional resources are available here.

AgrAbility Virginia's Fall 2020 eNewsletter has been published here.
Sign up to receive eNewsletters here.

The Partnership for Innovation, which includes AgrAbility Virginia partners at Virginia Tech, has received IRB approval to begin testing knee and back support technologies with farmers.

AgrAbility Virginia is a sponsor for the Virginia Forage and Grasslands Council virtual 2021 Winter Forage Conference in January.

AgrAbility Virginia staff have provided input on revised evaluation methods for 2020 clients and organizational partners. Updated survey and interview questions will be submitted to IRB early January. The comprehensive program evaluation will begin in the spring following IRB approval.

Dr. Kim Niewolny, Garland Mason, and Liza Dobson presented to staff at the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services to strengthen the existing partnership and determine new ways of collaboration.

Program Coordinator Garland Mason was interviewed by On the Farm Radio for a program which should be aired in January.

AgrAbility Virginia staff are organizing an injury prevention webinar with a panel of healthcare workers including an orthopedic surgeon, a nurse practitioner, and a physical therapist.
Happy 2021 from Wisconsin!

AgrAbility of Wisconsin hosted its annual advisory council meeting mid-November. More

In early December, staff hosted a webinar, "The 'Upside-Down' Pyramid of Safety in Agriculture". More

AgrAbility of Wisconsin's next webinar will feature the WI NRCS Disability Emphasis Program Manager, Lizzy Dawson. This will be held January 28. Look for the link to come soon.
AgrAbility for Africa
On November 25,the AgrAbility for Africa staff attended the presentation of the "Social Protection Sector Review" document by the Ministry of Labor, Gender and Social Development of the government of Uganda for the purpose of analyzing the critical component of the government 's national development strategy for supporting human capital development and inclusive growth. More
On December 3, AgrAbility for Africa staff joined the rest of the world to celebrate diversity amongst us in a show of support toward a society that embraces diversity. Staff continue to challenge everyone to build networks and infrastructure to support people faced with disabilities. More
The Alaska AgrAbility program is excited to add Erin Main, OTD, OTR/L, as the AgrAbility service administrator to our team. Erin will work part-time and assist with program development to include work with partnerships and community stakeholders. She will be developing the relationship with the AgrAbility program and UAA students in the professional doctor of occupational therapy (OTD) program. She will also be working with the team to continue to expand outreach to build understanding around occupations, health, disabilities and agriculture. More
Michigan AgrAbility is saying goodbye to Deb Chester at MSU. Deb is retiring from MSU at the end of 2020. Thanks, Deb, for your dedication and commitment to serving our farming community.
National AgrAbility Project
After more than 20 years of service to AgrAbility clients, staff, and a multitude of other professionals and consumers, Steve Swain officially retired on December 31. The NAP and Indiana AgrAbility teams wish Steve the best in his life after AgrAbility. You can read his farewell here if you missed it. More
2020 Computing Innovation Fellow Dr. Brianna Posadas has joined the AgrAbility Virginia team through her work with Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture, Leadership, and Community Education. Read more here.
Problems? Contact Chuck Baldwin, National AgrAbility Project,

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