AgrAbility PA: 2016 Year in Review

AgrAbility PA logoAgrAbility PA had a busy and productive year in 2016! It was filled with meeting new clients, farm assessments, outreach events, and more. The staff, which is comprised of members from Penn State University and UCP Central PA, traveled and networked throughout the state spreading the word about how AgrAbility can assist farmers and other agricultural workers with a disability or long-term health condition.

The services, resources, and support provided by AgrAbility PA have helped many farmers and agricultural workers to live independently and to continue working in production agriculture. AgrAbility PA is fortunate to have strong partnerships with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT), and other third-party funding sources to help farmers and farm families obtain needed equipment, assistive technologies, and modifications.

Dairy farm wide

Here are some highlights from 2016:

  • Staff met with hundreds of farmers and agricultural workers throughout the state over the last year, meeting one on one with more than two dozen people to provide farm assessments and individualized reports on recommendations.
  • Most often, an all-purpose utility vehicle or some type of mobility device is recommended to help a farmer around their farm, but replacing old, unsafe tractor steps with new ones is second. Assistive technology is any item that is used to improve the functional capabilities for someone with a disability or long-term health condition. There are a host of options to consider on the farm!
  • A contest was launched for Pennsylvania FFA chapter members to get involved with AgrAbility PA on a project level. Deadline for submissions is March 21, 2017. Details are available at:
  • IMG_1074Penn State’s Ag Progress Days in August proved once again to be a valuable event to attend and interact with those who could benefit from AgrAbility PA’s services.
  • The National AgrAbility Project celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. September 19, 2016 was National AgrAbility Day.
  • Pennsylvania legislators, supporters, and advocates gathered at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg in October to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
  • screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-4-07-32-pmAgrAbility PA gained fans and followers on social media! Follow or like AgrAbility PA to stay up to date on project news, photos, events, and more – comments and shares are welcome! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  • The AgrAbility PA Advisory Board continues to be an important piece to our success throughout the year. Thank you members for your time and commitment!
  • Field Notes is the AgrAbility PA newsletter. It is published in print (twice a year) and electronic (monthly) versions. Join the mailing list by sending your email and mailing address to:

The AgrAbility PA team is looking forward to an exciting year ahead in 2017. The New Year not only marks the fourth and final year in our current grant cycle, but it will bring the opportunity to focus on new challenges and opportunities, such as connecting with underserved populations and enhancing the overall impact that AgrAbility can have on the agricultural community.


Reminder PA FFA: Participate in the Bridging Horizons Contest!

image_leadimageAgrAbility PA launched a new contest open to students involved in Pennsylvania FFA Chapters. The contest is aimed at making a positive impact in communities across the state for farmers or agricultural workers with a disability or long-term health condition.

The contest is currently underway — but there is plenty of time to get involved and participate! Contact us directly to get ideas, gain insight, or to get started. Deadline for submissions: March 21, 2017.

Contact: Kendra Martin | Digital Media & Outreach Coordinator | AgrAbility PA
717.975.0611 ext. 128

The Bridging Horizons Community Service Contest provides an opportunity for the Pennsylvania FFA Association members to make a positive impact in their community to enhance independence and promote success of farmers and agricultural workers with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

The contest will accept entries in three categories:

1.    Design and create an assistive technology table-top demonstration
2.    Develop an AgrAbility PA promotional video
3.    Complete a service project that helps farmers with disabilities and/or their family members

Monetary awards will be given to the one statewide winner in each category (3) and an overall winner.The winning entry in each category will be awarded $400; an additional $800 will be awarded to an overall grand-prize winner.

Learn more:

This contest is in association with the AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians Project which is a statewide partnership with USDA-NIFA, Penn State Extension, and UCP Central PA.

Assisstive Technology Spotlight: Utility Vehicle (UTV)

One of the most common recommendations AgrAbility makes is for a utility vehicle (UTV). They are great solutions to assist individuals with mobility around the farm. There are many modifications and attachments that can then be added to UTVs to further assist the individual. One great modification, especially this time of year, is an enclosed cab with heat and air conditioning.

Cold weather can make it more difficult for individuals to manage their arthritis. Having a warm place protected from winter wind can help reduce symptoms. This is also a benefit to individuals who have cold sensitivities or individuals who cannot sense when their limbs are cold. As we all know, farmers work outside in all weather conditions. Taking proper precautions, taking breaks and working in warm environments is important. A heated UTV can make a huge difference!

bobcat-utvA cab and heater can be added to most existing utility vehicles or a utility vehicle can be purchased with a cab and heater already installed. If you are interested in adding a cab and heater to an existing utility vehicle you should contact your dealer to determine if this can be done on the model you have.

Follow our Assisstive Technology board on Pinterest or in our monthly e-newsletter by joining our mailing list. Send your email address to to join!