Finally, some good news in 2020. Tennessee officially has a new state chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC).
TN AgrAbility, a USDA-funded program represented in Tennessee by University of Tennessee Extension, Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension, and SPARK Assistive Technology Center, helps farmers with disabilities continue to farm and is a partner of the Tennessee FVC, according to a news release from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
AgrAbility is committed to helping military veterans who choose agriculture as the “next mission” as well as beginning farmers with disabilities or other functional limitations.
“UT Extension has been working to connect transitioning veterans with a network of agriculture partners across the state,” said Eileen Legault with TN AgrAbility. “A lot of veterans did not grow up in Tennessee or on the farm, so they do not know about all the available Extension services offered or the resources within the state of Tennessee.”
AgrAbility is a point of contact for helping farmers with disabilities find the assistive technology or resources they need.
“A lot of folks want to help veterans but do not know how. Experienced farmers are welcoming veterans on their farms. Veterans need a purpose and mission and farming is growing to a whole new generation,” Legault said.
Because Tennessee is such a wide state, Legault has a colleague who operates in West Tennessee. Joetta T. White is based with UT Extension in Gibson County. UT Extension offices in every county of the state contribute to a substantial network of educational resources and services available to farmers.
“The creation of the Tennessee Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition is the culmination of months (and in some cases, years since 2015) of hard work by a great team of people with a shared interest in supporting veterans in agriculture. We look forward to creating a stronger community of farmer veterans across the state and finding new ways to network and share resources,” said Ron Bridges, president of the Tennessee FVC that serves more than 1,000 Tennessee FVC members.
To learn more about the Tennessee FVC, view the video on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqQmVINn-ts.
To learn more about the National FVC mission to mobilize veterans to feed America, attend the virtual conference Nov. 18 and 19. “Veterans Farming Through Adversity,” the sixth national Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference hosted by the National Farmer Veteran Coalition, will feature two days of education, workshops, speakers, guest panels, networking and more. Tune in from your farm, office, living room couch, or even the seat of your tractor, anywhere across the country.
Visit the website for full details and to register: conference.farmvetco.org. Registration costs $45.