The National AgrAbility Project is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in 2016. Observances and special events will commemorate 25 years of helping people in agriculture overcome their disabilities or long-term health condition. The goal of the project is to assist farmer and agricultural workers so they can continue to work and remain in production agriculture.
First authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill (but with funding appropriations beginning in 1991), the National AgrAbility Project began with eight state projects. The number of projects has since grown to a total of 20 this year. AgrAbility consists of the National AgrAbility Project (NAP) and state/regional AgrAbility projects (SRAPs), such as AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians Project. Each project involves collaboration between a land-grant university and at least one non-profit disability services organization.
The National AgrAbility Project is currently based at Purdue University. All AgrAbility projects report to USDA-National Institute for Agriculture in Washington, D.C. More information is available at www.agrability.org, on Facebook: National AgrAbility Project, and on Twitter: @NatlAgrAbility or #agrability25.
“The vision of AgrAbility is to enhance the quality of life for farmers and agricultural workers with disabilities,” said Paul Jones, manager of the 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.”
The AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians Project (AgrAbility PA) is a statewide partnership between Penn State Extension, located at Pennsylvania State University in State College, and UCP Central PA, a non-profit organization that works with individuals of all ages with all types of disabilities throughout central Pennsylvania. AgrAbility PA has been providing information and direct services to farmers and family members affected by disabilities or a long-term health condition since 1995.
“This project has undoubtedly made a positive impact and has certainly improved the lives of farmers throughout Pennsylvania for more than 20 years,” said Dr. Connie Baggett, project director for AgrAbility PA and associate professor of agricultural and extension education at Penn State University.
National activities planned during the anniversary year include:
- “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 on AgrAbility’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Some will include links to videos related to the stories. Each story will be posted online at www.agrability.org/25years. These stories and other program-related information will be assembled in a 25th anniversary summary, which will be available in print and electronic formats later this year.
- 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, 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado.
- AgrAbility will host a 25th anniversary celebration on July 12, 2016 in conjunction with the annual conference of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) July 10-14, 2016 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 being planned during the annual National Farm Safety and Health Week in September 2016. More details will be posted closer to the date.
Have a story to share about how AgrAbility PA has helped you? Interested in learning more about AgrAbility PA? Email AgrAbility@psu.edu or call (814) 867-5288. Stay in touch with news, events, and information by following AgrAbility PA on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and on Twitter @AgrAbilityPA.