Fate struck instantly for Rodger Harms on a cold, dark October night in 1994 during corn harvest. As he reached into a combine, without the aid of a flashlight, a pulley crushed his right hand. In searing pain, the Kenesaw farmer, staggered to his grain truck a quarter mile away, wondering if he could save the mangled hand, wondering if he’d ever farm again. Despite efforts by his medical team, Harms’ entire right hand was eventually removed and he was fitted with a prostheses. He was back to farming for the 1995 cropping season, but also finding there were things he couldn’t do with his left hand or the prostheses on his right arm. Enter Nebraska AgrAbility.
The new project worked with Harms to determine modifications to his tools and work that might allow him to continue farming and repairing his farm equipment and some adaptations that could keep him using his machinery.
Harms learned about Vocational Rehabilitation services and how they could help make the modifications a reality with funding and other resources.
Today, Rodger Harms gives back to the organization that helped keep him doing the work he loved. Harms became a trained Peer supporter who visits and talks with others who are where he has been. Exchanging ideas, providing a shoulder to lean on, and knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel are part of what the Peer network was designed to do – and what Harms does well.
In addition, Harms accepted a position on the Nebraska AgrAbility Advisory Committee in 2010. There he networks with organizations, professionals, and other former AgrAbility clients to keep up-to-date on what Nebraska AgrAbility is doing. He offers his perspective on changing issues and trends in agriculture and in the state to help AgrAbility staff tailor their efforts to the needs of their clients. With AgrAbility priorities in education, assistance, and networking, the insight offered by the Advisory Committee keeps staff current on what is happening in Nebraska and in the ag industry.
Nebraska AgrAbility is a joint effort of the University of Nebraska Extension and Easter Seals Nebraska. This material is based upon the work supported by the Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under special project number #2006-41590-03461.