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July 2012


In June UVM Extension held its annual Professional Improvement Conference, where Rural and Agricultural Vocational Rehabilitation (RAVR) received a Diversity award for its 44 years of service to people with disabilities living and working on Vermont Farms and in the most rural areas. Working with VocRehab Vermont, Extension agricultural professionals, AgrAbility, the Agency of Agriculture, Rural Health Care Practitioners, veterinarians, farmer groups, local legislators, citizens, neighbors, and family members, RAVR works with about 200 farmers, farm families, farm workers, and rural citizens each year, providing comprehensive service including education, networking, worksite modifications, equipment adaptations, counseling, and guidance, with long term associations to help ensure people living and working with chronic illness and injury have resources and relationships they can count on.

Unfortunately, this is RAVR's final year; due to loss of funding the program is being eliminated. On September 30, Vermont's premier farm health and safety program will close its doors. VT AgrAbility is proud and grateful for its long history and working relationship with RAVR (formerly Rural and Farm Family Vocational Rehabilitation). The accomplishments from this relationship are too many to list here, but staff are particularly proud of the significant effort and support given to the VT Farm Health Task Force, agricultural medicine training, and most recently, the farmer wellness display and outreach provided to over 500 people at the 2012 VT Farm Show. Thousands of Vermonters have worked with RAVR and AgrAbility in tandem to maintain and sustain farm operations through many economic, environmental, and health crises and hardships, to preserve Vermont's working landscape, and to support agriculture as a key contributor to the economy through production agriculture, tourism, and leadership in the local foods movement. Vermont AgrAbility takes this opportunity to thank RAVR staff for years of collegial and successful working relationships on behalf of the farming community to keep the farm health and safety message moving forward and to reach the goals of a healthy and sustainable farm workforce.

The Vermont AgrAbility staff members participated in the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) conference in Burlington, Vermont meeting people from around the world. Even two days of rain could not dampen the enthusiasm and events that have taken place over the past five days. Thank you to all who were involved with getting this event planned and ready to go.

Submitted by Janis Moore