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May 2015

West Virginia

WV AgrAbility was well represented at the 2015 AgrAbility National Training Workshop held in Rochester, NY. Representatives from all four funded partner organizations were present including: West Virginia University (1862 Land Grant University) - Tom Stockdale (Principal Investigator), Brandon Takacs (Co-Investigator), and Jan Della-Giustina (Project Assistant); West Virginia State University (1890 Land Grant University) - Melissa Stewart (Program Manager), and Brad Cochran (Program Assistant); The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley (the disability/non-profit organization) - Inetta Fluharty (Program Specialist); West Virginia Assistive Technology Systems and the Center for Excellence in Disabilities at WVU (the WV State Tech Act Project) - Carmen Fullmer (AT Specialist); along with John David Johnson (WVU Agriculture Extension Agent), and Danny Vaughan (WV Farmer).

Four Sessions Presented by WV AgrAbility Staff at the NTW in Rochester, NY

  1. Bridging Horizons - Panel
    Inetta Fluharty participated on the "Bridging Horizons Panel" to discuss the program pros and cons.

  2. H"app"y Farming - Presentation
    Inetta Fluharty presented a session entitled, "H"app"y Farming" on apps (computer software applications) that can assist farmers in agricultural production.

  3. Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints - Presentation
    Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints ( brought together professionals from WV AgrAbility, West Virginia Assistive Technology System (WVATS) and WVU Extension Service to share the stage at the NTW. Carmen Fullmer, Inetta Fluharty, and John David Johnson collaborated to present a session together. They showcased the success of this accessible gardening program for West Virginians with arthritis and joint limitations. The session focused on how the program grew from the seed of an idea in 2007 to the flourishing, accessible gardening program it is today. This session also accentuated the WV AgrAbility partnership and how an agriculture extension agent can work with the various partners.

    Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints is funded by the Osteoporosis and Arthritis Program at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health. As of the 2015 growing season, Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints has funded 120 accessible gardening projects located in areas encompassing 75% of the counties in West Virginia. Volunteers are the heart of the gardening projects. Volunteers grow flowers and healthy food at senior centers, community buildings, and parks around the mountain state.

    Several past gardening projects were highlighted in this presentation. Johnson, a WVU Agricultural Extension Agent, shared his experiences as Project Manager of the Jackson County Master Gardener group, which was successful in obtaining Green Thumbs funding in 2012 and 2014, and other community support. The group has creatively turned a field into a garden, built raised beds, and a high tunnel featuring a wheelchair accessible walkway. The site has evolved into one of the largest community gardens in West Virginia.

    At this presentation, several audience members from around the country commented that they wanted to learn from this particular accessible gardening model so they could begin similar programs in their home states.

  4. Service Animals for Farmers and Ranchers - Presentation
    "Service Animals for Farmers and Ranchers", a session presented at the NTW by staff from West Virginia Assistive Technology System (WVATS) and WV AgrAbility. Carmen Fullmer and Inetta Fluharty talked about the history of service animals in the United States, service dogs and miniature horses under the Americans with Disabilities Act, task examples, and assistive technology for use by a service animal as an accommodation on the farm. Fullmer and Fluharty spoke about training resources, and highlighted three programs - Hearts of Gold (WV), PHARM Dog (MO), and Zen Clicker Training (NY). They presented videos that profiled a service dog and miniature horses doing tasks to help their owners.

WV AgrAbility personnel met with staff from the CED TBI (WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities Traumatic Brain Injury) project to discuss and brainstorm options for service and funding resources for an individual who wants to begin gardening. Individual funding options for clients are limited based on the nature of each request and the cost of the equipment. "Funds for You" options were discussed but will need justification for this individual as funding for a "last resort." WV AgrAbility and CED TBI staff will continue working on funding solutions for assistive technology as well as securing additional services for the individual to remain independent.

WV AgrAbility staff participated in the April meeting of FACES, a disability networking and support group. Inetta Fluharty, Program Specialist, was a featured trainer. FACES participants include persons with disabilities, parents, siblings, guardians, caregivers, and other community members interested in receiving information and resources on issues that impact the lives of people with disabilities and their unique needs and challenges. The April topic was "Abuse and Neglect" of individuals with disabilities. While the training focused on the types and signs of abuse, and how to report abuse, Inetta Fluharty stated that, in addition to the fact that people with disabilities are at a higher risk of abuse and neglect than the general population, many WV rural farm families who have recently been afflicted with illness and injury may be subject to abuse and neglect and not know where to turn to receive assistance.

WV AgrAbility staff attended the 2015 WV Beef Expo and Stockman's Contest held April 9 through 11, 2015. Inetta Fluharty, Program Specialist, spoke to FFA and 4-H members, plus WV livestock producers, about assistive technology to assist in agricultural production. Demonstrations of quick hitch systems, bale wagons, and drive through gates were highlighted during the breaks in the contest competition. Specific information about Farm Safety and Age-Appropriate Tasks on the farm was shared with FFA and 4-H members in attendance.

WV AgrAbility staff participated in the 2015 meeting of the West Virginia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Spring Conference at Twin Falls State Park. Inetta Fluharty, Program Specialist, presented "Ergonomics - Working Smarter not Harder". Attendees learned how using body mechanics and ergonomics can help in avoiding an injury as well as assisting with task completion after an injury. Participants evaluated various pieces of equipment to understand the differences, and a discussion was held about how to refer a person to WV AgrAbility.

Submitted by Janet Della-Giustina