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July 2019


Matt Liebetreu in barnMichigan AgrAbility held a live Facebook event on Friday, June 28, at Matt Liebetreu's farm! Matt injured his hand/arm when attempting to free hay in a hay baler. His hand was drawn in, and, as a result, he sustained an amputation below the elbow on his right arm. Michigan Rehab Services and Michigan AgrAbility worked together to assist Matt continue his cash crop, cattle, and hay operation. Matt demonstrated the initial work tasks identified as needing accommodation, and then demonstrated those tasks post-accommodation. What a difference! There's still more to be done. Matt is an inspiration - his dedication, good humor, and commitment were on display. So proud of Matt! You can see the video of Matt's AgrAbility experience and his farm on the Michigan AgrAbility Facebook webpage or on the Easterseals Michigan YouTube channel.

Light and shadows in the barnThere is certainly beauty in farming. Michigan AgrAbility client Aaron Fenrich captured the beautiful interaction of light and shadows in his barn. Aaron graciously shared this vision with Michigan AgrAbility, where staff posted to share with visitors to their Facebook page. Hopefully, other clients will share the beauty they find on their farms so it can be shared with readers.

Sharing information, whether it be assistive technology ideas, activities from other states, or safety and health information, is an important aspect of Michigan AgrAbility's activities. With the rise of city and backyard farming, non-farmers may not know the health risks involved when working with animals like farmers do. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) developed a short alert that advised how to keep people healthy when working around poultry to minimize the risk of salmonella poisoning. Michigan AgrAbility shared this publication "Healthy Families and Flocks" on its Facebook page.


Andrea GarzaPlease welcome Andrea Garza to the Michigan AgrAbility team! Andrea shared the following to introduce herself: "My name is Andrea Garza. I am a new addition to the AgrAbility team. I have been hired on as an agricultural assistive technology professional. I will be helping Ned with reaching out to farmers with disabilities and helping these farmers continue to farm through the services provided by AgrAbility. I also will be reaching out to migrant farm workers by utilizing my Spanish to communicate with this population. I am currently an occupational therapy assistant and have five years of experience in various settings. My husband works on an apple farm and trims the trees in the winter. Because of repetitive movement and stress on the fingers, he developed trigger finger in multiple fingers. He has had surgery on a majority of his fingers. Because of AgrAbility, my husband is able to use a piece of equipment that decreases the amount of movement and stress on his fingers. With my knowledge of Spanish and OT background, I hope to assist migrant workers, to educate them on proper ergonomics in the workplace, to prevent injuries, decrease any pain, and to assist in any other way so the worker/farmer can continue to work. I live and grew up in Kent City, Michigan, where there are many fruit/vegetable farms, dairy farms, and pig farms. I have two kids, an 18-year-old boy (young man) and a 14-year-old daughter."

Submitted by Deb Chester