NC AgrAbility is a collaborative partnership, funded by USDA-NIFA through North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a project of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute. NC AgrAbility partners include North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program and various other disability service providers. Each Partner brings unique strengths and expertise, and statewide networks to offer our AgrAbility farmers and affiliates.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T State University) is a comprehensive, 1890 land grant university committed to excellent undergraduate and graduate education, scholarly and creative research and effective public service. The university strives to deliver visionary and distinctive academic studies, research and service that include collaborations and partnerships as part of learning experience. The School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences has a long tradition of leading the way through innovative teaching, research and extension programs. The mission of the school is to provide opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to achieve excellence, through intellectual teaching, research and technological advancements.
Mr. John Paul Owens has served as the NC AgrAbility Project Director since March 2014, and provides leadership to all aspect of project activities. Coming from a farming background, Mr. Owens has experience working in the agricultural sector both domestically and internationally, where he worked for the United States Peace Corps, the US Agency for International Development and USDA/FAS. At NCATSU he teaches, conducts research and helps administer four additional USDA Projects. Mr. Owens has extensive experience working with Cooperative Extension agents, farmers and ranchers across the state in the areas of farm safety and small farm enterprises. He is a member of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) and he also served on the North Carolina Agromedicine Steering Committee (1997-1999).
The East Carolina University College of Allied Health Sciences (CAHS), through the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, leads NC AgrAbility in addressing the health training and networking responsibilities, as well as assisting in consumer case management and direct needs.
East Carolina University has a mission of service to rural, under-served areas of eastern North Carolina where 7 of the state’s top 10 agricultural counties are located. The East Carolina University Division of Health Sciences is known for the highly skilled and compassionate graduates it produces across the spectrum of health professions and is home to the College of Allied Health Sciences and the Brody School of Medicine.
The North Carolina Agromedicine Institute (the Institute) is a University of North Carolina inter-institutional partnership among East Carolina University, NC A&T State University, and North Carolina State University sanctioned by the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors in 1999. Its mission is to promote the health and safety of NC’s farmers, fishers, and foresters. The Institute is dependent on its many local, state, and national partnerships to fulfill this mission.
Most recently, the NCAI has worked with the University of Iowa, NC Cooperative Extension, and Albemarle Regional Health Services to successfully adapt and implement AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm programs. Partnerships developed in conjunction with these programs strengthens ECU’s ability to reach individuals farming or ranching with a disability across the state. ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences offers baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees to approximately 800 students. The CAHS provides continuing education programs, professional and clinical services, and faculty/students are involved in conducting basic, clinical and applied research. Within these activities and through new programs developed for NC AgrAbility, the CAHS is promoting AgrAbility education for health care professionals and students to raise awareness and enable students to knowledgeably assist individuals farming with disabilities.
Robin Tutor-Marcom, Director of the Institute and Director of the AgriSafe Network of North Carolina, serves as lead for East Carolina University and the Institute’s role in NC AgrAbility. In addition to being from an active farm family, Ms. Tutor-Marcom has over 25 years’ experience working as an occupational therapist in community based settings with an emphasis in assistive technology, housing, and work-site modifications. She also has an extensive background in migrant/seasonal farmworker health and building successful collaborative partnerships. Since 2007, Ms. Tutor-Marcom has managed projects in excess of $1.1 million including leading the adaptation of the University of Iowa’s Agricultural Medicine: Occupational and Environmental Health for Rural Health Professionals course and AgriSafe program to NC.
Mary Watson Hildebrand, OTD, OTR/L, with the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA (formerly assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University), assisted the project from 2011-2014 with primary responsibility for the development, adaptation, and implementation of course material and educational material to be integrated into degree-seeking departments for health care providers and rehabilitation personnel. Dr. Hildebrand has 13 years of occupational therapy rehabilitation experience. She grew up on a small family farm in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, where she gained a deep understanding of agricultural and rural communities. Dr. Hildebrand has immersed herself in the study of farming with disabilities and issues related to aging farmers, farm safety and health concerns, and coordinated with other institutions on sharing agricultural health and safety curriculum development. She has made multiple presentations at state and national conferences regarding issues related to AgrAbility and aging farmers, and took NC AgrAbility globally in 2014 when she presented her work at the 2014 World Occupational Therapy Conference in Japan. Dr. Hildebrand continues to contribute to efforts in AgrAbility nationally and in NC through the NC Agromedicine Institute.
The North Carolina State University’s Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering (NCSU BAE) is committed to providing engineering leadership in the development and dissemination of knowledge related to the efficient utilization of biological and agricultural systems and to the preservation and management of natural resources.
Gary Roberson, Ph.D., P.E. serves as the Agricultural Engineering consultant and co-advisor to Agrability-related student projects to NC AgrAbility. He has extensive experience in the development and use of assistive technologies for individuals farming with disabilities. Dr. Roberson works with the NC AgrAbility Project Coordinator to provide education to agricultural engineering students at NCSU BAE and facilitate student projects to address equipment modification or fabrication needs of NC AgrAbility consumers identified through farm site assessments. Dr. Roberson has over 30 years’ experience in agricultural engineering. He is associate professor & Extension specialist at NCSU BAE. Dr. Roberson developed and teaches BAE 432- Agricultural and Environmental Safety and Health, a course designed to provide an overview of the health and safety issues pertinent to agriculture.
The North Carolina Assistive Technology Project (NCATP) is a state and federally funded program created under the Assistive Technology Act 2004 to increase statewide access of assistive technology to people of all ages and abilities to provide one-on-one consultations, assessments and individualized plans. NCATP also works with professionals in disability related fields to provide training and workshops in access, augmentative communication, and a wide spectrum of assistive devices. NCATP has 11 offices statewide, covering all 100 counties of North Carolina.
Tammy Koger, Executive Director of NCATP, serves as lead for the NCATP and coordinates assistive technology efforts with Ms. Proctor to assist NC AgrAbility clients through their statewide-local offices. Ms. Koger has been the Executive Director of NCATP since 2007. Prior to coming to NCATP, she was the Executive Director of Lee County Industry (LCI), a non-profit community rehabilitation program in rural North Carolina. Ms. Koger has over 20 years experience in the rehabilitation field to include working as a state and private Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, a federal Substance Abuse Counselor, and 8 years non-profit management. Ms. Koger started her career in assistive technology in 2001 while working as the Contracts Manager for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB) in Washington, DC. She currently serves on the AmeriCorps Disability Advisory Board, and the RESNA Steering Committee. She has also served as the Vice President for NC Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (NCARF) and as a board member for the Central Carolina Society of Human Resource Managers (CCSHRM). Ms. Koger has a BA in Psychology from Radford University with graduate work in Rehabilitation Counseling, Guidance and Counseling, and Business Management. She has also earned her certificate in Non-profit Management from Duke University.
In addition to contracted partners, NC AgrAbility works with Western Carolina University Department of Physical Therapy, North Carolina Network of Centers for Independent Living and the National Arthritis Foundation- Mid Atlantic Region on relative topics and special project initiatives.