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July 2009

National Project

Bill Field spent much of a week recently in Montana working with individuals representing FSA, Farm Bureau, Montana State University, Dull Knife Indian Reservation, Arthritis Foundation and other groups attempting to organize a new AgrAbility effort. Meetings were held in Missoula, Billings and Miles City that didn't attract many people, but included key community leaders. The hope is to develop a network utilizing local resources, including a promise of start up funding from FSA. Montana is a big state with potential AgrAbility clientele scattered in many fairly remote areas. It will be no easy chore to develop strategies to reach such a dispersed population.

Submitted by: Bill Field

The AgrAbility accessible tractor rolled through Goodwill Industries International’s annual  Delegate Assembly (DA) in Indianapolis, promoting it’s mission of enabling a lifestyle of high quality for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities, so that they, their families, and their communities continue to succeed in rural America.

The tractor was equipped by Life Essentials, a company long active in the Eric Olson and Gail Deboy at accessible tractorAgrAbility arena. In addition to the tractor, AgrAbility hosted an information booth at DA with the help of Bill Field and Paul Jones, both from Purdue University.

At this fall’s National AgrAbility Training Workshop GII President and CEO Eric Olson and Bill Field at table top display Jim Gibbons will give the keynote speech at the annual banquet. GII Director of Grant Funded Projects Jennifer Davis and GII National AgrAbility Project Coordinator Eric Olson will also lead a workshop to help staffs of the State and Regional AgrAbility Project (SRAP) to learn how to better connect with Goodwills and other local community based organizations.

The event will also feature an informational booth developed by the Goodwill Association of Michigan, as well as a tour of the Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids for attendees.

Submitted by: Eric Olson

The National AgrAbility Project participated as an exhibitor at the 2009 RESNA Conference in New Orleans June 25-27, 2009.  Steve Swain, the NAP Assistive Technology Specialist, staffed the display each day.  Several additional AgrAbility staff members also attended the conference.  Some were preparing to acquire their ATP certification through classroom training and the certification test.  Steve talked to several attendees who were asking how to start an AgrAbility project in their state.  The conference had over 600 registered attendees from the United States and abroad.  The 2010 RESNA Conference will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
In addition to staffing the NAP display in the exhibit hall, Steve also presented a workshop entitled Assessment Tools and Strategies to Assist Military Veterans with Disabilities Return to Agricultural Employment Using Assistive Technology.  The session explored the process of identifying and assisting veterans who have either retired or left the military due to disability. 

He also participated in a presentation in the Special Interest Group 14 – Job Accommodations Show and Tell.  During this session individuals from the SIG-14 group presented pictures and described job accommodations they had been involved with or were aware of.  Thanks to all AgrAbility staff who contributed to the session.  The presentation included over 42 pictures of job accommodations from your work.  Thank you very much for your contributions.

Submitted by: Steve Swain

Bill Field was named an ASABE Fellow at their most recent annual conference. According to ASABE, a fellow is "a member of unusual professional distinction, with outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in, or related to, the field of agricultural, food, or biological systems engineering, a minimum of 20 years of active practice in, or related to, the profession of engineering; the teaching of engineering; or the teaching of an engineering-related curriculum and a minimum of 20 years as a Member-Engineer or Member in ASABE."

Amber Wolfe attended the SASDA Conference (Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from June 14-18.  She presented seminar information on “Arthritis and Agriculture” to over 100 agricultural professionals from various industries including the 17 southern state Commissioners of Agriculture, Dow AgriSciences, BASF, Orkin, DuPont, Monsanto, Perdue Farms, and others.  She talked with staff at Express Ranch and Braum’s Dairy, and visited with several local farm families during the trip including an organic vegetable farm family heavily affected by arthritis.  Over 400 pieces of educational material were distributed at the conference.

Submitted by: Amber Wolfe