AgrAbility Harvest 2023 An ingathering of helpful information on disability in agriculture
Resilience is essentially the ability to bounce back. One dictionary defines it as, “the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Sounds like a lot of the farmers and ranchers AgrAbility serves.
A person’s resilience can mean the difference between continuing to grow in the midst of adverse circumstances or being crushed by them. So, what are the keys to channeling this critical trait? Google provides a myriad of suggestions, but some of the more commonly cited catalysts of resilience include strong relationships, focusing on future goals, acceptance of change, and flexible thinking. Resilient people aren’t necessarily heroes; they’re just able to muster the drive and resources to adapt and keep moving forward.
If you’d like to see a portrait of resilience, check out Laurie Hayn’s story at agrability.info/hayn. While helping with corn harvest in 2018, she was caught in the head of a combine and lost her left arm and leg. With resources from AgrAbility and Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation, combined with her faith and her family’s support, Laurie bounced back quickly into farming and is now sharing hope with others, such as through her keynote address at the 2023 AgrAbility National Training Workshop (NTW)
Another keynote speaker – this one at the Amputee Coalition’s 2023 national conference, where AgrAbility was a presenter and exhibiter – also spoke about and personified resilience. Amy Purdy lost both legs below the knee to bacterial meningitis at the age of 19. However, through resilience, she eventually became a Paralympic medalist in snowboarding and a second-place finisher on Dancing with the Stars. She challenged the audience with this question: “If your life was a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?” She added that obstacles can either stop us in our tracks or force us to be creative. In Amy’s story, she has made adversity her ally and achieved greater things after incurring disabilities than she dreamed of before them.
Noted author C.S. Lewis is credited with these words: “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” While our AgrAbility clients might not achieve public fame, each has his or her own destiny, and we as AgrAbility staff are thankful to be in the business of helping them reach full potential.
To help socially disadvantaged populations, including people with disabilities, bounce back from past discrimination, USDA has instituted the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program for those who may have experienced discrimination in obtaining USDA loans. AgrAbility is helping spread the word about this program, and this issue of AgrAbility Harvest contains a special insert regarding it.