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July 2018


PA AgrAbility staff at Mental Health First Aid trainingAgrAbility PA staff hosted and participated in a Mental Health First Aid USA training for Extension educators and ag professionals. Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it builds mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand, and respond to, signs of mental illness.

Just as CPR training helps a person with no clinical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a person assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis such as contemplating suicide. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives. Mental Health First Aiders learn a single five-step strategy (ALGEE) that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in crisis, and identifying appropriate professional help and other supports. Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families, and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.

The AgrAbility PA staff LEARNED A LOT! This type of training and information is critical for every single person to know - to help a neighbor, family member, friend, or anyone. But given that the suicide rate in the field of farming, fishing, and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people - more than five times that of the population as a whole - it is important for AgrAbility staff members to be informed. The PA training was offered complimentarily by WellSpan Philhaven, a nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization with a wide range of services for children, adolescents, and adults, in south-central Pennsylvania.

For more information about Mental Health First Aid USA training and to find a course, visit: You Can Be the One to Make A Difference.

Bridging Horizons PA winners from Line Mtn. Jr/Sr High SchoolCongrats to Line Mountain-Mahantango FFA Chapter, part of Line Mountain Jr./Sr. High School! They won the Bridging Horizons PA Contest sponsored by AgrAbility PA. The award included a cash prize and recognition PA Bridging Horizons contest-winning entryat the Pennsylvania FFA State Convention held at Penn State University in June. WATCH IT HERE. Students created a tabletop model of a farm with equipment modifications, adapted tools, and assistive technology. We can't wait to see what these students do next! CONGRATULATIONS!

AgrAbility PA's Summer 2018 printed newsletter mailed this month. Highlights include Dennis' story of determination, the importance of statewide partnerships written by Dr. Connie Baggett (PI), and an assistive technology spotlight. View the electronic PDF here or contact AgrAbility PA to be added to the mailing list.Philip Dean on Hoard's Dairyman cover

AgrAbility and a client were highlighted in Hoard's Dairyman!! The story features Philip Dean, a dairy farmer from Lawrence County, who has been able to maintain the "only way of life" Philip Dean with auto takeoffs for milkingthe Dean family has known, dating back to 1840, on the same family farm land. Yes, that's 1840. Thanks to the support of AgrAbility PA and PA's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Philip now uses automatic takeoffs to assist with his milking operation.

Philip Dean's story in printHis story and a sidebar on assistive technology to use in and around the dairy barn was featured in the June 2018 issue of Hoard's Dairyman. Check out his story in print by clicking here!

Project Assistant Abbie Spackman provided an interactive session on managing farm stress to Women Rooted in Ag, a group supported by Penn State Extension and Reliance Bank. The session also highlighted the role that AgrAbility plays in reducing farm stress. Participants spent the morning getting to know each other, talking about farm stressors, and identifying signs and symptoms of stress. Attendees also outlined four ways they can reduce their stress and created ideas for reducing stress on the farm as a whole. To learn more about reducing farm stress, or to share stress relief tips, use #stresslessfarm on social media.

Submitted by Abbie Spackman