University of Wyoming Extension News

Project coordinator joins organization assisting agricultural producers with disabilities

Chelsea Hampton

A project director has joined Wyoming AgrAbility.

Chelsea Hampton will help provide education to service providers and producers, information to and networking with providers and direct assistance to ranchers and farmers whose families are affected by a disability, said Randy Weigel, AgrAbility project director.

Born in Rock Springs, Hampton has lived in Cody, Evanston, Greybull, Lusk and Powell but considers the Greybull/Cody area home.

“I acquired a familiarity with ranching and agriculture through the people I came to know,” she said. “I have also gained an understanding of disabilities and support services through my education in social work as well as through working as a job coach for persons with disabilities.”

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Sept. 21-27 is National Farm Safety and Health Week

“Farm Safely – Protect YOUr Investment” is the theme of the 65th observance of National Farm Safety and Health Week. The observance is sponsored by the National Safety Council and supported by farm and ranch safety advocates, including Wyoming AgrAbility.

This year’s theme highlights the value of the safety and wellness of the agricultural producer and the importance of protecting vision, hearing, lungs and skin, said Randy Weigel, director of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project at the University of Wyoming.

Wyoming AgrAbility is part of a national program administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture focused on promoting independence for members of the agricultural community who have disabilities resulting from injury, illness, aging or other causes.

There are many health hazards in an agricultural environment. These hazards can harm ranchers and farmers in many ways. If proper safety measures are taken, the chance of being injured will decrease significantly, said Weigel, a professor in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Protect your eyes

Eye injuries are very painful and can include puncture of the eye, blunt trauma to the eye, and burns or laceration (cut) of the eye. To prevent eye injuries, wear eye protection whenever possible and especially when applying pesticides, operating power tools, using landscaping tools, repairing machinery or dealing with dust or debris.

Protect your ears

Weigel said most farmers and ranchers don’t realize their occupation has one of the highest potential for hearing loss. Ag producers are continually exposed to loud noise from machinery and equipment, and damage will occur when proper hearing protection is ignored. Stay safe by using earmuffs or ear plugs to protect against damaging noise.

Protect your lungs

If livestock are raised in a confined setting, producers are at risk for respiratory diseases. These diseases are caused by toxins and dusts that occur in those facilities. Also, chemical gases can cause respiratory problems. The gases from crop storage, manure storage and pesticides are among those toxins that can cause lung damage and other health problems. Protect lungs by wearing the appropriate mask when working around dust, toxins and chemicals.

Protect your skin

Farmers and ranchers are at risk for skin cancer because they are exposed to excessive amounts of sun. Too much sun, resulting in sunburns, and the total amount of sun received over time, can cause skin cancer. Wear clothing that covers your body and shades your face, sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and a wide-brimmed hat, and apply sunscreen often.

Too many farmers and ranchers fail to farm safely by not using eye protection, ear plugs, masks for their respiratory system or sun protecting clothing, said Weigel.

“Why not protect YOUr investment, and live a long and healthy life?” he said.

For more information on agricultural safety on the ranch or farm, contact Wyoming AgrAbility at (866) 395-4986 (toll-free) or e-mail or visit