University of Vermont

Vermont AgrAbility Project Honors Two Founding Fathers

Stowe--The Vermont Agrability Project honored two Vermonters for their contributions to farm safety and vocational rehabilitation in a special ceremony, May 27, at Keewaydin Farm in Stowe.

Daryl Lowry of Waltham and Merton Pike of Stowe were recognized at a gathering attended by family and friends as well as many past state vocational rehab specialists, current Vermont AgrAbility Project staff and Therese Willkomm, University of New Hampshire assistive technology expert.

Until his retirement in 1995, Lowry headed up the Rural and Farm Family Vocational Rehabilitation Program, a cooperative program of University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and the Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The program, the first of its kind in the nation, provided assistance to farmers with disabilities and chronic health conditions, allowing them to continue farming.

Pike, now 94, received help from the program after a farm accident in 1971 left him a double-leg amputee. The accident occurred on Keewaydin Farm, which is now owned by Pike's son and daughter-in-law. Pike continues to work on the farm using specially equipped tractors and farm machinery. Since his accident, he has reached out to other farmers with disabilities to help them find hope and the courage to continue farming in the face of life-changing events.

Both men played a part in getting the National AgrAbility Project off the ground in the early 1990s, which led to AgrAbility Projects in several states, including Vermont. Directed by George Cook, UVM Extension farm safety specialist, the Vermont AgrAbility Project is a partnership of UVM Extension and the Vermont Center for Independent Living.

To learn more about the Vermont AgrAbility Project, contact Geoff Whitchurch, Vermont AgrAbility Project education and outreach coordinator, at (802) 888-4972, ext. 403, or (866) 260-5603 (toll-free in Vermont) or by e-mail at vtagrability@uvm.edu for more information about Vermont AgrAbility.