University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Vermont AgrAbility Project

Vermont AgrAbility is a free service provided by University of Vermont Extension, in collaboration with the Vermont Center for Independent Living, promoting success in Vermont agriculture for people with health conditions and their families. The Vermont AgrAbility program operates under a grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in Washington, D.C.

Agriculture consistently ranks as one of the nation's most dangerous occupations. Each year agricultural workers in Vermont sustain disabling injuries in work related accidents, non-farm injuries, illness and other chronic health conditions.

Vermont AgrAbility helps farmers and agricultural workers with chronic health conditions gain more control over their lives, continue to farm successfully, and live independently. We offer education, assistance, referrals for financial assistance, and facilitate farm modifications to accommodate your unique abilities.

Eligibility

Farmers and agricultural workers eligible for Vermont AgrAbility services may have any type of acquired or traumatic disability - physical, cognitive or sensory.

AgrAbility addresses many conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Arthritis
  • Spinal cord injury / paralysis
  • Back impairment
  • Amputation
  • Brain injury
  • Visual / hearing impairment
  • Respiratory impairment
  • Disabling disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Head injury

No-Cost Services

Information and Referral

Vermont AgrAbility provides information about farming with a disability and referrals for financial assistance.

On-Site and Technical Assistance
  • Restructure work tasks / operations
  • Modify farm equipment and tools
  • Acquire assistive technologies
  • Explore alternative agriculture enterprises
Secondary Injury Prevention

Vermont AgrAbility creates awareness and provides information on preventing further injuries or disabling conditions.

Peer Support

Vermont AgrAbility connects farmers with disabilities with others who have successfully accommodated their disability.

Training and Education

Vermont AgrAbility provides training and education about farming with a disability to rehabilitation and health care practitioners, agricultural professionals, and emergency response organizations.

Vermont AgrAbility Resources:

Structure of AgrAbility

AgrAbility consists of the National AgrAbility Project (NAP) and State/Regional AgrAbility Projects (SRAPs). Both the NAP and all the SRAPs must be partnerships between a land grant university and at least one nonprofit disability organization. All AgrAbility Projects report to the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in Washington, D.C.

History of AgrAbility

AgrAbility came into existence through the 1990 Farm Bill, and the first eight SRAPs were funded in 1991. At that time, the NAP was led by Purdue University's Breaking New Ground Resource Center in partnership with Easter Seals (national office). Funding continued to grow, and by 2000, 18 SRAPs were funded. At that time, leadership for the NAP moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in continued partnership with Easter Seals. Currently, there are 21 USDA-funded SRAPs providing services in 22 states, plus several unfunded affiliates serving other states via other funding sources. The NAP moved back to Purdue University in 2008, with partnering organizations being Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, the Arthritis Foundation, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Colorado State University, Purdue University and Breaking New Ground.

Prior to AgrAbility, several states had programs that assisted agricultural workers with disabilities, including Indiana (Breaking New Ground), Vermont, and Iowa.

Review the summary, prepared by Breaking New Ground, of the first 20 years of AgrAbility (PDF).

Contact Us

Email: vtagrability@uvm.edu
Phone: 866-260-5603 or 802-888-4972

Vermont AgrAbility Project
29 Sunset Drive
Morrisville, VT 05661-8313
George Cook, Project Director

Or contact a Vermont AgrAbility area specialist:

Berlin:
Bill Snow, 1-866-860-1382 or 802-223-2389 x209, william.snow@uvm.edu

Burlington:
Gail Lapierre, 1-800-571-0668 or 802-656-5420, gail.lapierre@uvm.edu

Morrisville:
Geoff Whitchurch, 1-866-260-5603 or 802-888-4972, geoffrey.whitchurch@uvm.edu

Morrisville:
Tom Younkman (VCIL), 802-888-2180, tyounkman@vcil.org
Kenny Smith (VCIL), 802-888-0723, ksmith@vcil.org

Last modified October 09 2014 11:55 AM