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April 2017

West Virginia

West Virginia AgrAbility continues to provide information and resources to farmers requesting assistance. During the month of March, WV AgrAbility staff conducted three farm site assessments and is working with West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services and private foundations on securing funding for the needed agricultural modifications. Providing advocacy to AgrAbility clients on funding issues will assist farmers in securing funding for the needed assistive technology solutions.

West Virginia AgrAbility was represented at Disability Advocacy Day at the Legislature by Inetta Fluharty. Ms. Fluharty was accompanied by seven consumers that have been working on growing their own produce. They, along with Ms. Fluharty, spoke to several legislators about the impact several pieces of proposed legislation will have on individuals with disabilities and the needed supports that allow individuals to live and work in the communities of their choice. The seven individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities witnessed how the legislature works and had the opportunity to tell legislators how certain legislation will impact their lives.

Inetta Fluharty presented information to the Lettuce Grow nonprofit organization about various methods and curriculum to teach gardening skills to youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Lettuce Grow Project is building sustainable community relationships for their team members, providing locally grown agricultural products that can feed into the local food economy, and increasing job skills for young adults with developmental disabilities. Inetta Fluharty also provided an assistive technology demonstration of over 100 gardening solutions to be used in various applications. WV AgrAbility will serve as a technical advisor and assist in assessing new members beginning training for any needed modifications and ergonomic solutions.

Inetta Fluharty attended and had a display at the 2017 Appalachian Grazing Conference. Approximately 350 producers attended and received information aimed at helping grassland farmers improve productivity and profits. Inetta spoke to the group on "Farming Smarter - Not Harder," which highlighted the use of ergonomics and good body mechanics.

WV AgrAbility at the 2017 NTWWV AgrAbility was well represented at the 2017 National AgrAbility Training Workshop. Representatives from all four funded partners were present including: West Virginia University (1862 Land Grant University) -Brandon Takacs, Rodney Brundage; West Virginia State University (1890 Land Grant University) - Melissa Stewart; The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley (disability non-profit) - Inetta Fluharty; West Virginia Assistive Technology Systems at the Center for Excellence in Disabilities at WVU (state Tech Act Project) - Jessi Wright; along with National Guardsmen working with the Patriot Guardens Project - Second Lieutenant Brittany Evans, Sergeant Major Darrell Sears, and farmer Danny Vaughan.

Submitted by Inetta Fluharty