AgrAbility eNote banner
October 2010


Del Ficke, Rural Rehabilitation Specialist with NE AgrAbility, was one of 14 Farm Bureau Leadership Academy participants going to Washington, DC, in September to discuss current agriculture issues with congressmen and hold policy meetings. Meetings held at the US Grain Council, American Meat Institute, USDA, the Australian Embassy, and the American Farm Bureau Federation discussed major subjects such as the negative impacts of current GIPSA and EPA rulings, estate taxes, and the need to move forward with Free Trade agreements with other countries.

NE AgrAbility has been working with leaders of Nebraska Farm Bureau to create a partnership to broaden their outreach across the state. NE AgrAbility has been invited to exhibit at their annual convention in December, and  the partners are in the process of creating a mini-grant fund to help clients with items not covered by other resources. The two organizations are working on a joint logo to put in the monthly Farm Bureau newsletter.

Three Nebraska AgrAbility staff and nine clients hosted an exhibit at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, NE, mid-September. The theme this year was Arthritis and Agriculture, a great subject of interest for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. Amber Wolfe, AgrAbility program director from the Arthritis Foundation, was a guest host on September15. She did an interview with Market Journal, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln web-based program for ag producers. Amber’s interview can be seen at She was also interviewed by Nebraska Farmer magazine for an upcoming issue.  The Nebraska AgrAbility exhibit drew over 300 attendees to talk about arthritis and try out the ergonomic tools on display. NE AgrAbility was housed in the Nebraska Farmer tent devoted to health and safety issues.

Sharry Nielsen, NE AgrAbility, and Amber Wolfe, National Arthritis Foundation, hosted an exhibit at the NE Rural Health Association Conference in Kearney, NE, on September 16. The theme, again, was Arthritis and Agriculture. Over 125 health professionals and administrators from across the state participated.

Occupational and physical therapists are invited to “Rehabilitating Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities.” The day-long seminar is planned for Friday, October 22, 8:00am–5:00pm at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, NE. It is sponsored by AgrAbility Projects in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. Continuing Educational Units will be awarded for the seminar, which uses an AOTA-approved curriculum.

Most do not realize it, but when a farmer or rancher is discharged from care following an injury or serious illness, he or she is not only returning home, but is also returning to an industrial work site.

Occupational therapists, physical therapists, OT assistants and PT assistants can play an important role in preparing farmers and ranchers to return to their homes. When home includes the workplace, special considerations are needed to ensure a safe transition.

“Rehabilitating Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities” is designed to help health care providers become more competent in their care to the agricultural population. Lead instructor for the seminar is Dr. Carla Wilhite, MNM, OTR/L. Wilhite is a professor at the University of North Dakota, Casper College, and formerly part of the Colorado and Oklahoma AgrAbility Projects. She was instrumental in developing and piloting the curriculum used in the seminar. AgrAbility staff from the three sponsoring states will also teach portions of the seminar.

Pre-registration for the seminar is required by October 15. For a complete agenda or registration materials, contact Sharry Nielsen, UNL Extension Educator, (308) 832-0645, or

Nebraska AgrAbility is a partnership of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and Easter Seals Nebraska.

Submitted by Sharry Nielsen