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January 2011


Jackie Allenbrand attended a networking event on December 2 with other service providers in the nine counties that MERIL serves. She also participated in the Chamber of Commerce Ag Division meeting on December 16. Discussion focused on forage and grazing practices to share with farmers in the NW Region. Two referrals came into MERIL, and Missouri AgrAbility has followed up with the interested parties.

Trisa Nickoley and Don Schuster staffed an AgrAbility booth at the Vernon County Extension Center Open House with 154 attendees. Pat Miller, MU Regional Specialist and West Central County Program Director and Wayne Prewitt, Interim MU Extension Regional Director were on hand, along with numerous local community-based leaders. The AgrAbility displays, ergonomic hand tools, and handout materials attracted numerous potential clients.

Russell Ramsey, volunteer farmer, continues to lead Missouri’s effort to formalize a statewide AgrAbility volunteer peer support and caregiver network. The network will help Missouri consumers cultivate independence by sharing how others cope with the "ups and downs" of their disabilities, while caregivers explain how they have learned to better navigate the care system.

Russell and AgrAbility staff members also continue to work on Missouri’s "Volunteer Peer Support and Caregivers Barn Builders" publication. This publication will include information on past and present consumers with disabilities and caregivers from all eight University of Missouri Extension regions who are available to assist others with similar disabilities reap the benefits of AgrAbility assistance, services, and networking opportunities.

Trisa Nickoley and Karen Funkenbusch developed an AgrAbility Fitness for Farmers display and Fitness for Farmers factsheet. The display was showcased at the Vernon County Extension Center Open House.

Karen Funkenbusch attended a seminar by the University of Missouri Office of Disabilities Services and Vocational Rehabilitation. The purpose of the consultation was to learn about new electronic teaching tools combined with how to provide online services and accommodations that help students with disabilities participate more fully in an online learning experience.

Volunteer master gardeners continue presenting the AgrAbility Gardens for Every Body Program to the public throughout rural Missouri.Twenty participants learned how to appropriately select ergonomic and enabling garden tools; Gardens for Every Body banner techniques tomodify tools; efficient and effective methods to gardening on small acreages;and how the AgrAbility program assists farm and ranch operators with disabilities.

Don Schuster reported the following AgrAbility activities:

  • Don conducted three new client on-site farm assessments throughout mid-Missouri with four more potential on-site visits to be scheduled.
  • Several AgrAbility clients are in the process of receiving adaptive devices and working to complete case files still open with VR and RSB. Client on-site farm assessments included partners with Rehab Services for the Blind (RSB) and the Innovative Small Farmers’ Outreach Program from Lincoln University.
  • Susan Jaster, Lincoln University Farm Outreach Worker in Lafayette & Ray Counties’ Innovative Small Farmers’ Outreach Program assisted with client coordination and other team specialists to formulate clients’ reports to VR. This AgrAbility partnership should be commended for their willingness to help provide co-leadership for the client’s special needs.
Submitted by Karen Funkenbusch