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September 2015

West Virginia

WV AgrAbility at KISRA training for minority & veteran farmersAugust 6th, WV AgrAbility participated in an all-day training class for minority and veteran farmers at the Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action, Inc. (KISRA). Headquartered in Dunbar, WV, KISRA operates in more than seven locations throughout the state. KISRA is a faith-motivated initiative that provides education, employment, economic empowerment, and behavioral health programs. These programs provide information for participants to change behaviors, change lives, and change futures so WV families can become stronger, better educated, more empowered, and ready to change the course of their lives and contribute to their communities. Twenty-one individuals attended the all-day training session. "Accessible Gardening", and "Using Ergonomics to Your Advantage" were topics presented by WV AgrAbility. Samples of ergonomic and non-ergonomic tools were passed among the attendees to allow comparison during the presentation. Topics presented by the WV State University Extension Service included "Bramble Production", "Container Gardening", "Mushroom Production", and "Raising Strawberries".

WV AgrAbility at WV State FairWV AgrAbility was honored to be part of the WV State Fair, held in Fairlea, WV, by exhibiting in two different venues, with WV University and WV State University. Both exhibits were provided for the duration of the fair, and included continuously running videos which featured the demonstration of various agricultural assistive technologies. WV AgrAbility exhibit attractions also included a magnet board where fairgoers could test their WV AgrAbility staff "incognito" - guess who?!knowledge of farm safety hazards, a raised container garden complete with ergonomic gardening tools to test ease of use, and demonstrations of the Ventrac mobility aid. Voluntary surveys were conducted to obtain health and safety data for the purpose of assisting in the development of educational materials. Throughout the week, WV AgrAbility staff periodically appeared "incognito" during attempts by fair attendees to identify farm safety hazards and during other farm-related activities.

The WV State Fair is steeped in history and tradition. The Declaration of Independence was only 78 years old when the first recorded WV fair was conducted in the Greenbrier Valley. The Greenbrier Agricultural Society began organizing and conducting an annual fair where agricultural accomplishment could be displayed. This popular event attracted entries of livestock, produce, and household items, from farms throughout the area. One such entry included an iron-gray yearling colt that took home the blue ribbon. That colt would later gain fame as Robert E. Lee's war horse, Traveller. Once WV became a state, the tradition of the agricultural fair in the Greenbrier Valley continued. From those early fairs to the present-day fair, the WV State Fair is committed to agriculture and family values.

Submitted by Janet Della-Giustina