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October 2018


The Missouri Assistive Technology Show Me Technology program is going to offer a new assistive technology financing option to AgrAbility clients in Missouri. Fresh Start Loan will provide the services of a certified financial coach to help Missouri residents with poor or no credit improve their credit so that they can successfully obtain assistive technology through Show Me Loans. The Show Me Technology program offers the expertise and tools to help individuals with disabilities tackle their specific prep work to be in a better position to be approved for credit. The prep work in this program includes credit repair, adopting good money management habits, and saving a monthly loan payment over several months. Each participant's coaching program will address their credit issues and establish a monthly budget. All services are free and customized through scheduled phone call meetings. Participants will have access to a financial expert every two weeks who will help them get back on track and be more credit worthy to get the financing needed for their assistive technology.

Missouri was awarded USDA NIFA grant to launch a Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP). The pilot project will offer experiential learning for beginning farmers through workshops, a Grow Your Farm course, farmer learning circles, farm walkabouts, technical one-on-one assistance, and an internship program. The program aims to reach individuals who are just getting started as well as those who come to farming with distinctive and specific needs such as language barriers, cultural differences, and military service disabilities. Target audiences include underserved groups that represent racial minorities, small farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, and military veteran farmers, military veterans with brain injuries, and AgrAbility farmers with disabilities. Funded collaborative partners include University of Missouri Extension, Missouri AgrAbility Project, Brain Injury Association of Missouri, Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Franciscans for Earth.

MO AgrAbility beginning farmer teamMissouri AgrAbility staff and four AgrAbility beginning veteran farmers participated in the free Ag Seminar for Young, Beginning Farmers sponsored by FCS Financial. The free Ag Seminar addressed the needs of young, beginning farmers and how Farm Service Agency's (FSA) are supporting beginning farmers through the direct and guaranteed loan programs. Richard Fordyce, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FSA, discussed the benefits of the loan programs available for young, beginning producers through FSA. While Dr. Kohl, Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Manager and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, provided an overview of what is ahead for agricultural economy, land values, cash rents and the overall bottom line. He also addressed adjustments that producers must make for success. He was followed by a panel of FCS financial experts who shared what they see in today's financial environment, in addition to answering questions about lending and insurance questions.

Missouri AgrAbility staff and AgrAbility clients participated in the Missouri Assistive Technology four-hour hands-on exploration of AT devices hosted by Rural Advocates for Independent Living (RAIL). Hands-on demonstrations included Low-Tech AT, AT Funding & Financing Options, Telecommunication Access Devices, Home Automation, AT for Dyslexia, and MoAT Programs and Services. Missouri AgrAbility also disseminated programmatic marketing and educational resource materials to participants.

MO AgrAbility at Down on the Farm trainingAgrAbility staff participated in the 2018 Down on the Farm Training sponsored by the Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Kerri Wilson, MO DVR, kicked off the first day of training by introducing VR case managers to "Why Farming." She was followed by Ray Drake, also from MO DVR, discussing VR farm services and outlining suggested steps for working with clients who are farmers or who are seeking a farm related occupation. Highlights of the day included VR case mangers touring Wilson Farm to learn firsthand how to mount, dismount, and drive a combine, and about the complexities of farming during the fall harvest season. Kathy Smith of Life Essentials  doing hands-on demonstrationsDay two, VR case managers' training consisted of Karen Funkenbusch sharing information about Missouri AgrAbility and the process of how Missouri collaboratively works together to assist AgrAbility clients. David Middleton, MO AgrAbility level II onsite farmstead comprehensive assessor, discussed how he conducts VR onsite farmstead assessments for MO AgrAbility clients. Kathy Smith, Life Essentials, facilitated hands-on equipment demonstrations. There were on-the-farm site visits to Fischer Stables Equine Barn, a P.H.A.R.M. Dog demonstration, and a poultry farm tour. Day two ended with Q & A and a lunch provided at Wilson Farm.

Tim Prather (TN), Cheryl Grenwelge, Rick Peterson, and Karen Funkenbusch at BFRDP directors' meetingKaren Funkenbusch moderated an AgrAbility session at the 2018 Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Project (BFRDP) directors' meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fifteen BFRDP Directors from across the country participated in the interactive session. Funkenbusch provided background information about AgrAbility while AgrAbility panelists highlighted from their perspective ways to reach out and build connections at the state and national level, shared ideas about how to incorporate services and programs, and how to access English and non-English resources to help beginning farmers and ranchers with disabilities. AgrAbility panelists included Timothy Prather, Extension specialist/PI, Tennessee AgrAbility, University of Tennessee, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science; Rick Peterson, project director, Texas AgrAbility, Texas AgriLife Extension; and Cheryl Grenwelge, project co-director, Texas AgrAbility, Texas AgriLife Extension.

Submitted by: Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension

Lincoln Universtiy participating in UM's SWRC educational field dayLincoln University's Innovative Small Farm Program (ISFOP) participated in an educational field day at the University of Missouri's Southwest Research Center (SWRC) in Mt. Vernon, MO, on Thursday September 13, 2018. David Middleton and Nahshon Bishop spoke to more than 1,700 FFA students. Topics included:

Lincoln University's Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program (ISFOP) in collaboration with the Webb City Farmers' Market held an educational twilight high tunnel. Topics discussed included:

Lincoln University's Small Farm Program's (ISFOP) Susan Jaster, a farm outreach worker (FOW) in Missouri's west central region, led an educational twilight pasture walk workshop. Throughout the event, Susan introduced attendees to the National AgrAbility Program (NAP) as well as the Missouri AgrAbility Program (MAP). The information was well received by those in attendance.

Submitted by: Shon Bishop, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

The Brain Injury Association of Missouri (BIA-MO) 14th Annual Statewide Conference marketing outreach, conducted throughout September 2018, featured the Missouri AgrAbility Project as the rural track sponsor. The October 4 - 6, 2018, conference was attended by more than 250 professionals in the fields of healthcare, rehabilitation, vocational services, and agriculture, as well as by current and prospective AgrAbility customers.

Maureen Cunningham, executive director of BIA-MO, shared information about the Missouri AgrAbility Project with a marketing exhibit at the Kansas City VA Summit on September 12, and did networking with professionals who serve potential AgrAbility customers at the Missouri Association of Rehabilitation Facilities' September 2018 meeting. These marketing and networking activities reached an estimated 75 professionals who serve residents of Rural Missouri.

Submitted by Maureen Cunningham, Brain Injury Association of Missouri