History of the Farm Program
In the late 1980s, the Easterseals Wisconsin staff was hearing from its rural clients that vocational rehabilitation programs were not meeting the needs of farmers. To address that need, Easterseals Wisconsin created the FARM Program in 1989. FARM works with the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to provide individualized, on-farm vocational rehabilitation services.
During the early years of the FARM Program, outreach amounted to dozens of cups of coffee shared at farm shows as trust was gained – one farmer at a time.
Early outreach also meant working with caseworkers at DVR to develop a perspective about farmers that included the idea that a fifty-year-old farmer with knee problems could continue to milk 80 cows throughout a Wisconsin winter. As each successful case proved that appropriate accommodations could keep farmers in their chosen vocation, referrals multiplied.