Non Technical Summary
South Carolina is an agriculturally rich state which prides itself on various goods and production systems, comprising over 25,000 farms spanning over 4.7 million acres of farmland. Of that number, around 2,600 of those farms are minority-owned. Agricultural production in the state exceeds $46.2 billion, and the top ten commodities include broilers, turkeys, greenhouse nurseries, cotton, corn, cattle, soybeans, peanuts, eggs, and wheat. Agribusiness employs approximately 247,000 individuals throughout South Carolina, making it one of the essential contributors to the overall economy. In addition to the farming opportunities throughout the state, South Carolina has a higher than the national rate of adults with disabilities making up 26.3% of the total population. One growing concern in South Carolina agriculture is the aging of farmers and their ability to continue to farm or those who may acquire a disability. Handling everyday tasks becomes troublesome, and some farmers are eager to find helpful solutions to overcome the barriers to farming. Disabled individuals interested in agriculture also face the same challenges and seek resources that may offer solutions.Many programs throughout South Carolina help those with disabilities enter the workforce or offer support with creating devices to assist disabled individuals with activities related to their jobs; however, few relate to farming or other agricultural activities. Therefore, Clemson Extension Service, South Carolina State Extension Service, and Able SC will bring all relevant stakeholders to the table. Able SC has extensive statewide experience with program development and systems change. Able SC provides leadership on issues affecting people with disabilities like accessibility, public accommodations, employment, and transportation. For example, Able SC started the Hire Me SC initiative in 2016, built on the SC Disability Employment Coalition foundation in 2012. The work has resulted in Employment First legislation, statewide resource mapping across multiple state agencies, model resources housed on a centralized website, disability employment awareness campaigns shared at the national level, and deepened collaboration to address existing service gaps.The Clemson and South Carolina State Extension Service can reach out to all of South Carolina, serving all 46 counties and seven extension regions in the state. The AgrAbility team will initially assess the need for an AgrAbility program and then create necessary educational materials to deliver to any individuals interested in participating. The project director and his team will leverage assistive technologies such as the aquaponics platform and high tunnel production systems to disseminate information and begin advertising AgrAbility and the program's opportunities at major events throughout South Carolina. Able SC works closely with the broader disability community throughout South Carolina as their staff comprises the very people they serve. They are the leaders in innovative disability programs and sustainable change. They help disabled individuals statewide. Other disability organizations via the Advisory Committee will also help reach out to socially disadvantaged and underserved farmers and potential farmers with disabilities.Launching an AgrAbility Program in South Carolina would provide current farmers and prospective farmers with disabilities the opportunity to develop barrier-free farming via a collaborative effort of the Clemson University Extension Service, South Carolina State Extension Service, Able South Carolina, South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department, South Carolina Department of Education, University of South Carolina Assistive Technology Program, and Upstate Warrior Solution, to conduct training workshops, and team up with engineers to create innovative solutions for overcoming the barriers to farming.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
The goals of the South Carolina AgrAbility program include:The team will initially begin to assess the state's farming population's needs related to disabilities by using a team of trained extension agents and the AgrAbility team. The team, along with extension agents, will do this through seminars and workshops held throughout the state to educate farmers with and without disabilities, prospective farmers with disabilities, family members, service providers and educators, and the agricultural community on what AgrAbility is and the possibility of the services helping selected participants. After assessing potential interest, the AgrAbility team will schedule quarterly sessions in strategic locations throughout South Carolina to reach out and directly recruit and assist approximately 10 to 15 new and 20 returning farmers per year. These sessions will offer information and sign-up opportunities to the new farmers interested in the program, meet with returning farmers for updates, offer assistance for any further concerns, and provide updated opportunities to pursue. Networking will occur with the Extension's New and Beginning Farmer Programs, Able South Carolina, the Farmer Veteran groups, and other interested parties seeking information and training opportunities.Farmers will be identified and recruited through activities the AgrAbility team will implement throughout the project. Initially, promotional materials will be distributed at various events throughout the state, and information will be offered to introduce the program and help with enrollment. Able SC and Advisory Committee members will also supply promotional material to reach potential farmers. Information from farmers will be collected, and the team will evaluate and prioritize those in need of assistance. Workshops and information sessions will be offered throughout South Carolina in year one. The purpose of these activities will be to introduce the AgrAbility program and the available opportunities to provide to disabled farmers. Introduction seminars will be accessible to new and beginning farmer groups, interested veterans' groups, and those who are socially disadvantaged and have limited resources. The AgrAbility team will develop a set of requirements farmers need to meet to participate in the program. The Extension programs will work with Able South Carolina to create a guide with conditions and qualifications for recruiting farmers in South Carolina and accessible marketing materials for the project.The Clemson and South Carolina State Extension Programs can reach out to all of South Carolina, serving all 46 counties and seven extension regions in the state. The AgrAbility team will initially assess the need for an AgrAbility program and then create necessary educational materials to deliver to any individuals interested in participating. The project director and his team will leverage assistive technologies such as the aquaponics platform and high tunnel production systems to disseminate information and begin advertising AgrAbility and the program's opportunities at major events throughout South Carolina.With the addition of Able SC, the AgrAbility team will be able to work closely with the broader disability community throughout South Carolina as their staff comprises the very people they serve. They are the leaders in innovative disability programs and sustainable change. They help disabled individuals statewide. Other disability organizations via the Advisory Committee will also help reach out to socially disadvantaged and underserved farmers and potential farmers with disabilities.
The methods and procedures the South Carolina AgrAbility team will use for the program include:EducationThe team will provide interactive presentations and exhibits at commodity meetings, state and county fairs, and Able SC events that reach the rural and agricultural communities.Cross-training between Able SC and Extension agents from Clemson and South Carolina State will be used. Able SC will lead the training exercise and instruct the team about disability, accommodations and accessibility, disability sensitivity and awareness, and disability rights laws and resources. Evaluations will ensure all team members can communicate effectively with the program participants.Workshops will be implemented to attract interested participants in the subject areas of aquaponics and high tunnel production. The participants will be involved with training programs and offered solutions to food production that might fit their needs. NetworkingThe South Carolina AgrAbility program team will actively participate in activities established by collaborators to share unique cases of the SC AgrAbility customers.The South Carolina AgrAbility PartnershipAdvisory Committee will be formed consisting of Able SC, Clemson Extension, South Carolina State Extension, SC Department of Agriculture, SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department, SC Department of Education, University of South Carolina Assistive Technology Program, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, and the National Veterans Agriculture Association to provide consultation around all goals of the program. Having these partners included will also develop support, resources, and sustainability.The team will reach out to Clemson and South Carolina State University student groups and offer partnerships to further present AgrAbility activities throughout South Carolina. The Department of Agricultural Sciences at Clemson University will be solicited to allow students in the Agricultural Mechanization program to provide their seniors with an opportunity to develop and construct projects that might benefit a disabled farmer.At South Carolina State University, junior and senior students in Agribusiness major will be introduced to a farmer with a unique problem and marketing requests and then allowed to create a marketing plan that the Clemson AgMech team can offer a mechanical device that could increase the farmer's daily activities efficiency.Identify and contact financial institutions in the state such as the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department, University of South Carolina Assistive Technology Program, and South Carolina Farm Bureau to participate in financial assistance to create supportive technology AgrAbility customers.Identify and contact other organizations in the state that can provide resources to veteran farmers, women in agriculture, farmworkers, and other minority groups.Direct AssistanceThe team will explore a case-by-case basis to identify South Carolina participants farming with a disability. Once identified, those associated with farm service agencies, local Cooperative Extension offices, community health centers, and other rural service providers refer individuals farming with a disability to the team. Additionally, the South Carolina AgrAbility team aims to provide opportunities for those with disabilities to obtain a career or enter the agricultural workforce.Able SC will connect farmers and prospective farmers with disabilities with others who have successfully become farmers with and without accommodations. They will serve as peer mentors to explore options to further recruit and educate others about AgrAbility while offering ongoing support. Lastly, Able SC will work directly with farmers and prospective farmers with disabilities to assist them with job readiness skills and determine accommodation needs to eliminate any farming barrier.A report will be created for individual participants containing an assistive technology assessment and recommended technology to complete essential work and daily living activities. The team will also help the farmer locate financial resources to apply for assistance in purchasing the recommended technology.MarketingNon-conventional methods will focus on defining outlets where general information can be delivered and potential clients can be identified and recruited to the program.To quickly start promoting AgrAbility within South Carolina, the team will plan with the aquaponics program and schedule time when workshops will be performed and aimed at promoting the AgrAbility program.The team will promote the program at four significant South Carolina events; the SC AgriBiz and Farm Expo, the South Carolina State Fair, Sunbelt Expo, the SC Farm Bureau Convention, and the state convention of the South Carolina Farmer and Agribusiness Association.The AgrAbility team will design and construct a mobile display to exhibit the benefits of AgrAbility to farmers, along with a collection of special ongoing or completed AgrAbility projects that encompassed the Extension Service and students participating in the Agricultural Mechanization program. The display will also attract those interested in obtaining information and linking up with sources to help find solutions for present challenges, which may occur later in their farming endeavors.Managemedia outreach by developing a web and Facebook page, joining Twitter and Instagram, and creating a YouTube account.Data CollectionThe AgrAbility team will conduct a series of data and information collection techniques for all education, networking, and marketing events throughout the years of the project. Presently, Extension collects demographic and contact information from participants in any sponsored event and follows up with a survey asking them about the event. The Extension service has provided paper and digital surveys with data analyzed through Qualtrics, a data analysis software application. The AgrAbility team will document events through photos, videos, and guest interviews. Every month, all the data will be compiled and shared with the National AgrAbility program. The AgrAbility team will work with the Extension IT team to create videos and visual summaries of events to display on the official South Carolina AgrAbility website and other social media sites set up through the partnerships.Oversight and EvaluationDr. Susan Guynn (director of assessment and scholarship, Extension Administration Office) will be the external evaluator. A blend of formative and summative evaluation will be applied to assess and monitor the progress, quality, and effectiveness of the activities and products implemented and produced. She will review project activities and methods, including the design of data collection tools, analyses, and communication of findings. Process evaluation and monitoring will be used to establish how well the project activities are conducted concerning the project's plan.EnsureProject sustainabilityUpon conclusion of the project, the decision support system will be maintained by Beecher through the Clemson Extension Program, where we will continue to measure outcomes from the project. Each component of this project was developed with sustainability in mind. The resources created will be hosted on Able SC's website, which they will continue to maintain and update after the financial assistance has ended. Additionally, through the Advisory Council and the agricultural education curriculum developed from Clemson, information and services will continue to be provided so farmers and prospective farmers with disabilities will still have opportunities in agriculture. Documentation of all good and bad results for the AgrAbility project will help potential future projects funded by private, state, or federal funds. Maintaining team collaboration by pursuing additional funding from private and public sources will be a priority.