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AgrAbility program helps provide assistance to local farmer

AgrAbility program helps provide assistance to local farmer

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 8:01 pm

Tony Coleman is putting milk crates to good use. He used them as a way to get on and off his tractor. He would tie a rope to the milk crate and fender of tractor and step on the crate, onto the tractor step and then the platform.
Coleman depends on his tractor to clip pastures and put out rolls of hay for the horses he boards on his 13 acres in Martin.
Coleman fell in 2004, resulting in a spinal-cord injury.
He was referred to the AgrAbility program by a friend.
After a farm assessment was made, AgrAbility staff discussed the assistive technology devices with Coleman that would be safe and make farming easier. Through the help of the Friends of Tony Coleman fund, AgrAbility was able to purchase new tractor steps with rail for him to get on and off his tractor safely, new tractor seat with seat belt to help with his balance, gate wheels to make opening and closing gates easier and tri-pin for steering wheel and repair his 4-wheeler, which is his means of mobility around his farm.  
With the assistance of Weakley County Young Farmers and Ranchers, Coleman’s brother and Cody Stovall with Work Plus Rehab out of Jackson the new assistive technology devices were installed on his equipment.
The new AT devices will help Coleman overcome many obstacles due to his disability.
The USDA program, AgrAbility, provides assistance to farmers and agricultural workers and farm family members (spouses and children) impacted by a disability.
AgrAbility consists of a national project and state/regional projects each involving collaborative partnerships between land grant universities and various nonprofit disability service organizations.
The vision of AgrAbility is to enable a high quality lifestyle for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers with disabilities.  Through education and assistance, AgrAbility helps to eliminate (or at least minimize) obstacles that block success in production agriculture or agriculture-related occupations.
Since it began in 1991, the AgrAbility program has impacted the lives of thousands of people nationwide through direct services. In addition new technologies have been developed and commercialized that have dramatically increased the independence of those working in agriculture.
AgrAbility is valuable because it puts people first. It meets the needs of the person. It helps the client overcome obstacles so they can continue doing what they love – farming. The TN AgrAbility staff work with organizations that help with disabilities for our funding, through donations and fund-raisers.
If you have a disability and are an agriculture producer or have a family member or employee that works on the farm with a disability and would like to contact AgrAbility, contact Joetta T. White at (731) 855-7656 or AgrAbility is a program through UT Extension and partners with Tennessee State University; the STAR Center in Jackson; East Tennessee Technology Access Center; USDA and Goodwill Industries. Programs are offered in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development.  University of Tennessee Institute Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

wcp 9/27/11


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