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September 2018


Abbie Spackman and Kendra Martin at Ag Progress DaysAbbie Spackman, Kindra Martin, and Dr. Connie Baggett at Ag Progress DaysAgrAbility PA exhibited at Penn State University's annual Ag Progress Days event in August. This event is the Super Bowl equivalent for not only Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences but for hundreds of vendors, exhibitors, strategic partners, ag researchers, ag educators, ag safety specialist, equipment dealers, and more, with over 80+ acres of displays and demonstrations.
AgrAbility PA exhibited inside the Rural Health & Safety Tent where a variety of health screenings were offered: blood pressure readings, stroke risk assessments, and a "Stop the Bleed" course. Hands-on demonstrations for assistive technology (including the Stand 'N Plant seeder and planter) and how to do-it-yourself to modify your workspace to be more ergonomic were offered up by AgrAbility PA staff AgrAbility PA's OT, Dwight Heller, at Ag Progress Daysmembers. AgrAbility PA's long-time occupational therapist, Dwight Heller, who is a certified hand therapist and works with AgrAbility PA farmers, was also available to share information and consult with attendees one-on-one.
There was a lot of great information and many demonstrations offered during the three-day event, but one of the highlights had to be when Jo stopped by to see AgrAbility PA. Her husband, Ben, who passed away one year ago in an automobile accident, connected with AgrAbility PA and PA's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation a few years ago when his Multiple Sclerosis symptoms were impacting his work on their horse farm. He was able to acquire an Action Trackchair and a motorized lift for his truck. Jo came to Ag Progress Days this year and specifically sought out AgrAbility PA's exhibit as she wanted us to know how much she appreciated that support, as it made Ben's last few years on the farm more manageable and pleasant. He was having fun again, she said. AgrAbility PA staff were touched by Jo's sincerity and happy she stopped by. The staff intends to keep in touch with Jo, as she offered to be a resource for the project moving forward.

Abbie Spackman's dairy talk at the Ag Progress DaysAgrAbility PA Project Assistant Abbie Spackman reviewed some of the factors related to stress and methods to cope with it at the Center for Dairy Excellence Breakfast during the event and The Delmarva Farmer spoke with her about it. For example, until recently farmers who lost a limb due to injury or a chronic illness, such as diabetes, were outfitted with common prosthetic devices that were not well-suited to farm work. Today, technological advancements are helping create prosthetics that are durable, affordable, and adaptable, to meet the unique needs of farmers and ranchers. In 2017, AgrAbility PA recognized a Pennsylvania student from the Cumberland Valley FFA Chapter for developing a myoelectric prosthetic hand. (Click here to read about the student and more about technological advancements that are helping injured farmers.) Pennsylvania's dairy industry has been fighting through stormy waters for several years. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his Pennsylvania Dairy Development Plan at this same breakfast. Click here to see the article in the Farm Bureau Viewpoints about Abbie at the Ag Progress Days.

Legislative panel discussion at Ag Progress DaysAgrAbility staff member Kendra Martin attended a legislative panel discussion at the event. Congressional representatives were on hand to discuss local, state, and national agricultural issues and answer questions. U.S. Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson (serving the 5th district in Pennsylvania) was on the panel and has been a supporter of the Farm Bill. Kendra Martin had an opportunity to talk with Congressman Thompson and highlight AgrAbility's important work in PA and across the country.

Submitted by Abbie Spackman