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March 2017

West Virginia

The West Virginia AgrAbility team has been busy during February with the many legislative and workshop events planned during the late winter and early spring.

Outreach and education to West Virginia's lawmakers was provided during the Department of Agriculture and Farm Bureau days at legislature. During these days, an informational display highlighting videos of various agricultural assistive technologies and demonstrations of ergonomic gardening tools was made available to attendees and legislators. These legislative days provide an opportunity for AgrAbility staff to meet with state lawmakers and educate them on the services AgrAbility provides.

Inetta Fluharty represented West Virginia AgrAbility at the WV Small Farm Conference. The AgrAbility exhibit was well-received and featured farm hazard identification and noise level education. Over 150 individuals took advantage of the free hearing protection and Inetta Fluharty demonstrated the proper method for applying foam ear plugs. FFA members from around the state learned how to use a decibel meter and tested the noise levels of a normal conversation and a busy exhibit hall. Video demonstration of various pieces of assistive technology was provided.

West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Leonhardt states, "Safety, no matter the profession, should always be a priority, and the classes offered during these Farm Safety Days are proven to help reduce any potential risk to injury." AgrAbility assisted in the Department of Agriculture's mission by providing a session on ATV safety and a session on AgrAbility during the Farm Safety Days at Kearneysville and Glade Springs.

During the month of February, Inetta Fluharty met with Agriculture Commissioner Leonhardt concerning issues with funding for assistive technology and modifications for AgrAbility clients. The Department of Agriculture and AgrAbility are working toward finding alternative solutions to purchase assistive technology for West Virginia farmers. In addition to the meeting with the commissioner, Inetta Fluharty attended a Division of Rehabilitation Services meeting with a farmer and his legal advocate concerning the desire to continue in agriculture and the needed assistance to continue his agriculture production. The advocacy efforts by Inetta Fluharty will not only assist the current farmers working with vocational rehabilitation, but will help lay the groundwork for future farmers seeking funding through West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services.

Submitted by Inetta Fluharty