The Ohio AgrAbility Program convened a regional Peer to Peer conference on April 5th and 6th. The sessions were held in Plain City and Walnut Creek on two separate dates to give AgrAbility clients the convenience and flexibility to attend. Randy Joseph, Charlie Landis, and Andy Bauer, AgrAbility staff members, facilitated round table discussions on assistive technologies, caregivers, and what the clients would like from the Peer to Peer program. AgrAbility staff Dee Jepsen and Kent McGuire presented a fire safety topic on each day of the conference. Vendor representatives from Action Track Chair, Propel Doors, Life Essentials, and K&M manufacturing, were present to explain their products and talk one-on-one with participants.
This was a great time for the clients and their spouses to hear what they have each done differently to make life easier. Peer support groups help others deal with the struggles of farming with a disability. The 25 clients and caregivers completed anonymous surveys offering comments and recommendations on how to strengthen the Peer to Peer program. A few of the common themes were that the clients and spouses found the personal stories from each other to be very helpful, were interested in a caregiver support network, and meeting together more often.
The Ohio AgrAbility staff is looking forward to expanding the Peer to Peer meetings to other locations in the state later this year. This will make it more convenient for more clients to participate. The Peer to Peer program is connecting people with similar experiences and bringing much needed support to those who feel that they are facing these unique difficulties alone.
OSU Extension and the Ohio AgrAbility Project welcome Laura Cherry Akgerman as the new disability services coordinator. Laura will serve Ohio State's agricultural college faculty and staff by answering questions and finding solutions for specific disability accommodations for outreach events held around the state. She will also oversee many of the services offered to Ohio AgrAbility clients to maintain their quality of life as they remain engaged in farming.
Laura is a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University; she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Education: Rehabilitation Services. She comes to us from Ohio Dominican University where she was the disability services coordinator and an academic advisor for almost eight years. She has also worked as a rehabilitation counselor for Goodwill Columbus, VocWorks, and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Laura grew up on a small farm in Sunbury, Ohio, and was an active member of the Pegasus 4-H club in Delaware County. She showed horses and sheep at the Delaware County Fair, the Hartford Fair, and was lucky enough to take her horse to the Ohio State Fair three times. Her father & brother owned and operated Cherryhill Aquatics, a water lily & aquatics nursery, for almost 25 years, and Laura got to work with the water plants every now and then.
Laura's campus office is in room 263 of the Agricultural Engineering building. She joins Dee Jepsen and the Ohio AgrAbility team, as well as Kathy Lechman and the CFAES diversity teams. She can be reached at email@example.com
Laura participated in the recent National Training Workshop where she met other AgrAbility state staff. The Ohio AgrAbility team looks forward to the talents she will share with Ohio farmers and rural care providers as she strengthens the local services and outreach programs.
Submitted by Laura Akgerman