The Colorado AgrAbility Project, working through CSU Extension on a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is once again bringing to your community their Winter Workshops. This year they will feature an introduction to AgrAbility outlining what we do and how we serve farmers and ranchers throughout Colorado by making on-farm visits to assess your work tasks and recommending ways to accomplish your chores less painfully and more safely.

Then our staff will introduce you to things you can do to be part of the solution in suicide prevention. The rate of farmer suicide in Colorado continues to climb and we must stop it in our own community. Come learn how to have a conversation with a farmer in need. Lastly Dr. Norm Dalsted will give you an update of what farmers need to know on the Farm Bill.

Ryan Davis is an example of how USDA/NIFA can help a farmer with physical disabilities.

Davis grew up on his family farm in Colorado. His family represents several generations of farmers and Ryan had thought he too would continue this path.  An auto accident in 2014 changed all that. A spinal cord lesion at the T-6 level left Ryan in need of using a wheelchair for his mobility.
His life had been dramatically changed and working on the family farm presented many physical obstacles he felt he could not overcome. After high school graduation he attended college and concentrated on Ag related goals, such as Ag Economics, Business and Agronomy. But he still desired to help his family with more “hands on” help with their farm.

Ryan and his folks attended an AgrAbility Winter Workshop in February 2019. The Davises were interested in learning more about Assistive Technology that would provide access to the large farm equipment the Davises use in their production Ag business. Candy Leathers, AgrAbility Program Manager put them in touch with another AgrAbility client in the area, who  provided a demonstration of a flatbed lift, a truck lift that would lift him from the truck cab, or ground level and insert him into the cab of a tractor, combine, or back hoe so he can perform daily work activities.

This was a revelation to the Davis family and got them thinking of all the work Ryan could do for the farm. Although Ryan had worked with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in the past, after meeting with the AgrAbility staff he felt he had a new vocational direction that would allow him to combine his educational goals with his employment goal of working on the family farm. Ryan shared his personal goals, which were to be able to improve his overall mobility on the farm, accessing the farm yard, fields, buildings, and equipment and to operate and repair equipment and machinery.  Colorado Department of Vocational Rehabilitation requested that AgrAbility complete a formal Farm/Ranch Situational Assessment with Ryan and  provide them with recommendations and ideas to address the limitations he was experiencing.

Through the combined efforts of both programs and with coordination, collaboration, creative and open-mindedness, Ryan is excited and encouraged about working safely on the farm once again. He continues to receive support from DVR and is working towards making necessary modifications to farm equipment and work tasks through assistive technology to allow him to access farm fields, workshops, tools, and farm equipment.

If you or someone you know could use a helping hand, please come to the AgrAbility Winter Workshop in your area.

Call Candy Leathers Program Manager at 720-435-5539 or

Winter Workshops:

Jan. 16 - Montrose, Friendship Hall, 1001 N. 2nd St., Montrose, 81401, Pioneer Room, 12:30 to 5 p.m., Host - Doug Dean

Feb. 4 - Yuma, Yuma County Fairgrounds, 410 Hoag St., Yuma, 12:30 to 5 p.m., Host - Travis Taylor

Feb. 11 - Rocky Ford, Arkansas Valley Research Center, 27901 County Road 21, Rocky Ford, 81067, 12:30 to 5 p.m., Host - Bruce Fickenscher

Feb. 18 - Greeley, Weld County Extension Office, 525 N. 15th Ave., Greeley, 80631, 12:30 to 5 p.m., Host - Keith Maxey.