AgrAbility keeps passions alive for farmers, ranchers with disabilities

AgrAbility keeps passions alive for farmers, ranchers with disabilities. (NTV News)

It's no secret that farming is physically demanding, but for someone with a disability, it can feel impossible.

One program is giving men and women across the state the tools they need to keep going, despite their circumstance.

Friday was a typical day on the farm in Hebron, but Clayton Hergott is not exactly your typical farmer.

"I am completely limited to riding around in this or crawling around on the floor," Hergott said.

An accident 10 years ago took away his ability to ever walk again.

That's when Hergott was introduced to a program that would keep his passion for farming alive.

"AgrAbility came out and did a farm assessment to help figure out the things that I can utilize to be able to get around the farm and get the livestock, get the chores taken care of," Hergott said.

Funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, AgrAbility helps farmers and ranchers with disabilities overcome their barriers.

"We go to the farm or ranch, find out what work tasks are being limited and then we determine what technology, devices or tools or modifications they might need to continue doing their work," said Nebraska AgrAbility program manager Rodney Peterson.

With the help of AgrAbility, Hergott decked out his operation with a portable corral on wheels.

"So when I'm catching cows, you get them in and they roll super easy," Hergott said.

He also has an electric jack for his stock trailer, and a hydraulic lift for transporting bales of hay.

"Instead of having to use the lever to manually crank it, all you have to do is raise an lower it," he said.

Peterson says success with a disability takes more than having the latest technology - he believes you must have the right mindset.

"Clayton is an example of someone who has the will and the determination, the headstrong capabilities of a Nebraska farmer or rancher that have allowed him to succeed with his disability," Peterson said.

For other farmers trying to overcome their disability, Hergott has one piece of advice.

"There are other people in your shoes that are out there. If you want it bad enough and you want to fight for it bad enough, there's usually a way to figure something out one way or another," he said.

Since 1995, AgrAbility has served 550 Nebraska farmers and ranchers. For more information on AgrAbility, click here.

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