University of Missouri Extension AgrAbility staff members continue to meet bimonthly with the MO Department of Agriculture, MO Department of Labor, Cooperative Electric to discuss AgrAbility initiatives to collaboratively help to ImProve Health Amongst Rural Missourians (I PHARM). Missouri's Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, Cooperative Electric, and USDA NIFA funded MO AgrAbility Project will collaboratively launch a programmatic website and will cooperatively showcase at the 2012 MO State Fair.
As one of Missouri's non-funded collaborating partners, the NorthEast Independent Living Services (NEIL), a non-profit disability organization located in northeast Missouri, continues to provide assistance and direct support to Missouri farmers and ranchers with disabilities. On the NEIL webpage under Our Services they have provided information about the Missouri AgrAbility Project, www.neilscenter.org.
Pat Bissell coordinates the monthly low vision support group that meets at the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center and also coordinates a monthly support that meets in Hannibal, Missouri. The goal of the support groups is to offer people with vision impairments, including farmers and ranchers in Northeast Missouri, support, encouragement, resources, and a taste of the devices that are available to them. During the June support group held in northeast Missouri, AgrAbility resources were handed out and devices were demonstrated by University of Missouri Extension AgrAbility staff. Fifteen participants learned about some of the personal devices for individuals who are visually impaired. Devices demonstrated included the ID Mate scanner device used to match up clothes; ScripTalk, a device the size of a paper book that reads prescriptions bottles out loud; talking glucometer to manage diabetes; large video magnifier; and small GPS that can be worn around the neck. The presentation also included how the iPhone and iPad can both be voice controlled.
On June 14, Jackie Allenbrand, MERIL AgrAbility outreach specialist, presented to the Optimist Club in Maryville, Missouri. She discussed services provided by the AgrAbility Project, MERIL, and MU Extension AgrAbility PHARM Dog Project. On June 2, she held a fundraiser to help a farmer raise funds for service training of his dog.
Chris Davis, AgrAbility assistive technology technician with University of Missouri Extension, showed the AgrAbility, Ergonomic, and Agriculture tools display and handed out AgrAbility resources at the Historic Booneville Heritage Days Festival, June 20–23. This family-friendly event, named the best festival of rural Missouri, provided AgrAbility an excellent opportunity to showcase displays and meet face-to-face with some Missouri farmers and ranchers from central Missouri.
MU Extension AgrAbility staff members helped two small farm operators with disabilities receive USDA funds to build high tunnels on their small acre farms. Chris Davis, AgrAbility assistive technology technician, and University of Missouri Extension AgrAbility staff members facilitated onsite farmstead assessments to organic farmers who will offer community-supported agriculture memberships to local consumers so they can receive a regular supply of seasonable produce. One of the farm's high tunnels is on a track so that while production is under way in the structure, additional crops can be planted contiguously and the tunnel moved to cover them as the weather changes. These small acre gardeners will sell their edible crops to area restaurants, schools, and other entities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentive Program will offset a portion of high tunnel construction costs for eligible applicants. More information is available at www.hightunnels.org. University of Missouri Extension AgrAbility staff members are also assisting with the Columbia Refugee Garden. Edible organic crops make up at least 40 garden plots roughly the size of ping pong tables. The refugee garden plots are interspersed throughout a local church's community garden. Refugees from Burma, Iraq, and several African countries manage their plots in the garden. Beyond AgrAbility and agriculture benefits, the garden provides a meeting place for refugees. Initially, refugees only interacted with others of their own nationality, but within the past year they have become more social.
Two educational posters for the Missouri AgrAbility Project were accepted and approved for the 2012 conference of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH), June 24-28, in Burlington, Vermont. Karen Funkenbusch presented the educational posters during the 2012 ISASH conference. The first educational poster was titled, "AgrAbility Program: Self Employment Opportunities in Agriculture for Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities" and authors included Karen Funkenbusch, Willard Downs, and Donald Schuster. The second AgrAbility poster was titled, "Arthritis Educational Teaching Materials for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers" and authors included Karen Funkenbusch and Willard Downs.
Submitted by Karen Funkenbusch