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Colorado AgrAbility Project returns to Montezuma County

Workshop helps farmers with ‘physical limitations’
Tom Hooten

The Colorado AgrAbility Project, which helps farmers with disabilities or other barriers to work, will hold a winter workshop at Pueblo Community College Southwest in Mancos on Jan. 23.

The project is part of a national program that promotes independence for Colorado farmers and ranchers who want to continue farming or ranching despite physical limits and health conditions.

Colorado State University Extension and Goodwill Industries of Denver work together on the Colorado AgrAbility Project to provide disability workshops, on-site evaluations, resource information, equipment modification and assistive technology, Tom Hooten, Montezuma County Extension agent, said in a news release.

For example, Hooton said, after Charlie Lichliter of Cortez sustained a traumatic brain injury off the ranch, his wife, Judi, injured her legs and ankles while picking up work on their ranch. Needing help, the couple reached out to the Colorado AgrAbility Project and received an on-site assessment of their assistive technology needs in 2002 and further assistance in 2008.

Last year, Judi continued on after Charlie’s death, but soon decided to retire. Access to her home became a problem, and she again reached out to AgrAbility for assistance. An assessment revealed that she needed an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp for her entrance, and AgrAbility set to work on a new ramp.

Judi attended the workshop and said she would like to see bigger crowds at future AgrAbility events.

“These people are awesome,” she said. “(Farmers) and ranchers need these kinds of things to come into our community, and it’s awesome when they do.”

The Lichliters’ experience with AgrAbility highlights a benefit of working with AgrAbility. The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, also offers informational workshops to help ranchers and farmers with their physical and financial health.

This year, themes for the workshops are AgrAbility 101, Mental Wellness for Rural Farm Families; Aging in Place/HomeFit; and Financial Issues Affecting Farmers.

Presenters will include Dr. Norman L. Dalsted of the Colorado State Extension and Candiss Leathers and Dr. James Craig of Goodwill Industries of Denver. Hooten of the Montezuma County Extension will be the host.

“The focus for the AgrAbility project ... is really to address people with limitations – physical limitations, psychological limitations,” Leathers said at last year’s workshop. “Our real focus is helping people with limitations remain in ag.”

The AgrAbility workshop will be held Jan. 23 in the main building at Pueblo Community College Southwest, Room 101, 33057 U.S. Highway 160.

The free workshops are open to all farmers and ranchers dealing with barriers created by illnesses, disabilities or other limitations. The workshops will last from 8 a.m. to noon.

To participate, contact Kathy Harris at 970-565-3123 or coopext_montezuma@mail.colostate.edu; Candiss Leathers at 720-539-4435 or cleathers@goodwilldenver.org; or Norm Dalsted at 970-222-5657 or Norman.Dalsted@ColoState.edu.

Register no later than a week before the workshop. Late registrations and walk-ins will be accepted, and refreshments will be provided.