Agriculture News

February 4, 2016  

AgrAbility planning 25th anniversary activities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - AgrAbility has entered 2016 with observances scheduled to commemorate 25 years of helping people in agriculture overcome their disabilities so they can continue to work and remain productive.

The National AgrAbility Project, based at Purdue University, is planning several activities during the year to celebrate its anniversary.

AgrAbility, first authorized in the 1990 farm bill but with funding appropriations beginning in 1991, started with eight state projects and has grown to 20 this year along with six previously funded affiliate projects. Each project involves collaboration between a land-grant university and at least one nonprofit disability services organization.

"The vision of AgrAbility is to enhance quality of life for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers with disabilities," said Paul Jones, manager of National AgrAbility Project. "Through education and assistance, AgrAbility helps to eliminate - or at least minimize - obstacles that inhibit success in production agriculture or agriculture-related occupations."

Activities planned for the year:

* A "25 Years, 25 Stories" initiative will highlight 25 of the thousands of stories of how AgrAbility has improved the lives of people around the country and even in other nations.

The stories will be released throughout the year through AgrAbility's Facebook page and Twitter account. Some will include links to videos related to the stories. Each story also will also be posted on a dedicated page on the organization's website at http://www.agrability.org/25years/.

The stories and other program-related information will be assembled in a 25th anniversary summary, which will be available in print and electronic formats. Similar reports are available for AgrAbility's fifth, 10th and 20th anniversaries.

* The annual AgrAbility National Training Workshop will highlight the program's accomplishments and feature special speakers, including Temple Grandin, renowned animal behaviorist and autism activist. The workshop is scheduled for April 11-14 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

* AgrAbility will host a 25th anniversary celebration July 12 in conjunction with the annual conference of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America July 10-14 in Arlington, Virginia. RESNA and AgrAbility are longtime partners; the initial AgrAbility national conferences were held in conjunction with RESNA annual meetings.

The guest list for the event will include current and former AgrAbility clients, key stakeholders from the rehabilitation, agriculture and government sectors, and AgrAbility staff members.

* An "AgrAbility Day" is planned for the annual National Farm Safety and Health Week in September.

Bill Field, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, has been a leader in AgrAbility since its inception. He has seen the program grow from model projects in a few states to an internationally recognized source of resources for farmers, ranchers and their families who are called to agriculture despite physical and mental limitations.

"The primary limiting factor for these individuals is not the lack of technology but rather the attitudes of those around them that create unnecessary barriers to success," Field said. "AgrAbility seeks to remove those barriers through its emphasis on what is possible rather than what is not."          

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu 

Sources: Paul Jones, 765-494-1221, jonesp@purdue.edu

Bill Field: 765-494-1191, field@purdue.edu   

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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