AgrAbility eNote banner
December 2015


AgrAbility education on accommodating disability in Agriculture and avoiding secondary injury for Missouri AgrAbility clients with disabilities was presented by AgrAbility staff members to MU graduate and doctoral students during their November graduate seminar. As a collaborating partner, the ASM department is committed to integrating physical systems with agricultural science and management skills to provide graduates with the ability to function in sales, service, and maintenance management position in agribusiness industries. The uniqueness of ASM graduates lies in their knowledge of the principles of physical systems which are the backbone of modern agricultural and food industries. Providing disability education and examples of how AgrAbility can help Customers and rural farm families with disabilities is a natural complement to regular course topics.

Willard Downs and Karen Funkenbusch facilitated an AgrAbility long-term sustainability meeting in Columbia, Missouri, on November 10, 2015. Developing sustainability for an AgrAbility Project has been a goal of the project management team over several grant cycles during which Missouri has been fortunate to receive NIFA funding. As such, Missouri AgrAbility has obtained services of an experienced professional sustainability coordinator to help network outside support.

Danielle Skouby, agricultural systems management graduate teaching assistant, and Karen Funkenbusch, AgrAbility staff member, improved capacity of both new and existing Vocational Rehabilitation case managers by providing education within the context of production agriculture where the learning objectives focused on accommodating disabilities and avoiding secondary injuries in farmers with disabilities. More specifically, Danielle and Karen went about developing service capacity with VR case managers in the Springfield South and North offices who serve AgrAbility Clients and rural farm families with disabilities.

AgrAbility staff members attended the 2015 Rural Health Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia on November 18, 2015. The free rural health conference had a record number of attendees this year. A lot of valuable take-home information was provided by presenters. Speaker presentations are located on the State Office of Rural Health site at:

Submitted by Karen Funkenbusch

Julie Harker, reporter for Brownfield Ag News for America and its parent company, Learfield Communications, was presented the Service Excellence Award - Public Relations 2015 from the Brain Injury Association of Missouri during the BIA-MO Annual Award Luncheon held in October 2015. This award recognizes Julie for her stories that raise awareness about brain injury and its impact in farming and ranching communities. Her stories have included veterans returning from military combat with brain injury succeeding in agribusiness, advocacy efforts on behalf of veterans for returning to rural Missouri, and more. In addition, she featured teenager Zane Volkmann who sustained a brain injury while on a horse and turned his injury into an opportunity to raise awareness about helmet safety. Her stories are regularly distributed throughout Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

AgrAbility was a featured topic with support groups offered in cooperation with the Brain Injury Association of Missouri. During two conference calls in November 2015, the volunteer facilitators learned more about farming and ranching as self-employment for survivors of brain injury. The availability of University of Missouri - Kansas City doctoral pharmacy students to present on medication safety in partnership with AgrAbility was also shared with the facilitators.

The Brain Injury Association of America held its Annual Leadership Conference in November 2015. The successes of the Missouri AgrAbility Project, through the partnership of University of Missouri Extension, Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Lincoln University Extension, and University of Missouri - Kansas City Division of Pharmacy, were shared with representatives of Brain Injury Association state affiliates from across the country.

Submitted by Maureen Cunningham