STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State University agricultural Greek organizations raised more than $700 to help a Somerset County dairy farmer.
Members of Delta Theta Sigma, Alpha Zeta and Alpha Gamma Rho fraternities, and Sigma Alpha sorority gathered the funds through a penny war campaign sponsored by AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians.
The donation was presented to AgrAbility client Timothy Murray.
“I am the fourth generation to farm here,” explained Murray regarding the dairy farm in southern Somerset County. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else or doing anything differently, no matter how challenging farming becomes.”
In addition to the challenges all dairy farmers face, such as wildly fluctuating milk prices and high input costs, Murray copes with the additional hardship of a nearly 10-year-old hip replacement.
For the 54-year-old Murray, that has meant difficulty in walking extensively around the farm, managing steps and ladders on tractors and silo and the repetitive bending required in his tie-stall milking barn.
Murray’s grown sons, Eric and Jared, help out as much as possible, though both also have full time jobs off the farm. So when Murray’s farm neighbors mentioned the help they had received from AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians, he decided to contact the program, as well.
AgrAbility project coordinator Linda Fetzer responded to Murray’s inquiry by doing an on-farm visit and site assessment.
Fetzer discussed the specific tasks that had become most difficult for Murray and created a list of recommended equipment and modifications that she felt would be most helpful to the dairyman.
Fetzer linked Murray with the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and completed the eligibility process.
Through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Murray was eligible to receive assistance to purchase step kits for the farm’s tractors, speed hitches to accommodate less trips on and off tractors, a tractor seat that provided greater comfort and suspension and a feed cart and bins to decrease the amount of lifting required for daily feeding chores.
Penn State’s ag fraternities have been participating in the AgrAbility fundraiser for several years.
AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians helps individuals who are coping with many different kinds of physical challenges, including arthritis, stroke, knee and back problems, amputations, vision and hearing disabilities and many others.
The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is a partnership of Penn State Cooperative Extension, Easter Seals Central Pennsylvania and the PA Assistive Technology Foundation.
For more information about the project, or to find out how AgrAbility can help you or someone you know, call 800-416-6061 or visit http://agexted.cas.psu.edu/agrab/.