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July 2019


Indiana AgrAbility sponsors a Bridging Horizons Community Service Contest. The contest challenges FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, youth organizations, and non-profit organizations to conduct service projects in the community for individuals or groups of individuals with disabilities. This year there were three entries for the contest and each was an FFA chapter. The awards were presented at the 90th Indiana State FFA Convention. Over 2,000 members and guests participated in general sessions, SAE contests, and received awards in the Elliot Hall of Music on the Purdue University campus. First place winner was the Franklin FFA Chapter. They were presented $600 (from non-AgrAbility funds) for their entry of portable steps for a 2 1/2 year old little girl with a mobility impairment. Second place went to the South Putnam FFA Chapter for their entry of clearing a nature walk at their school so all would be able to access the area. They were presented $350 for their entry. Third place was the East Central FFA Chapter for constructing accessible picnic tables for the Dearborn Parks. They were presented with a check for $200.

Steve Swain, Indiana AgrAbility rural rehabilitation specialist, conducted five farm accessibility assessments. Three of them were for Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the other two were preliminary visits to help determine client needs and a plan of action to move forward.

Submitted by Steve Swain

Indiana AgrAbility advisory team meetingThe Breaking New Ground (BNG)/IN AgrAbility advisory team meeting was held June 25 at the FFA Center in Trafalgar, Indiana. In addition to the 18 team members and one guest present, the seven incoming and seven outgoing FFA officers and three of their advisors joined the group for lunch and an animated discussion on farm youth with disabilities in FFA and 4-H. Several of the officers (youth) responded to questions from Bill Field, IN AgrAbility PI, by sharing personal testimonies of FFA members impacted by disability and how they were incorporated in FFA activities. It was readily apparent that the concern of the entire group was to see that agricultural youth with physical or mental impairments be included just like everyone else.

In addition to staff reports, advisory team business included a wonderful discussion on the relationship between Indiana AgrAbility and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) led by Steve Etheridge, retired VR counselor and current AgrAbility consultant, and Kristina Blankenship, VR staff/director of business & community engagement.

Paul Jones, IN AgrAbility engagement coordinator, shared the latest version of a new AgrAbility video and invited feedback from the advisory team. A number of favorable comments were received.

Chuck Baldwin, IN AgrAbility project coordinator, led the team in an overview of the changes to the Indiana AgrAbility Project in the new proposal that was submitted to USDA/NIFA in May 2019.

Submitted by Chuck Baldwin