TOWN OF DALE, Wis. — Keith Posselt has had to adapt to continue working on the family farm.
“This is no other options. It’s tradition, it’s heritage, it’s the variety that comes with it. There’s no other job out there for me,” Posselt said.
But that job was put in jeopardy in the late 90s when a silo accident left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Posselt said the injury was devastating, but didn’t break his resolve.
“I guess I came to the decision to keep farming while I was in the hospital,” he said. “It was in my blood and I knew I had to adapt to my situation.”
And Easter Seals Wisconsin became his savior with a program called AgrAbility. The program connects farmers living with limitations or disabilities to resources that help them continue farming.
“It wasn’t easy for me to [adapt], but I had a very supportive family and neighbors, and also with the help of Easter Seals, we overcame the obstacles that came in the way of me continuing to farm,” Posselt said. “They give ideas for obstacles that stand in the way that I have no clue how to overcome.”
Today, he farms with the help of specialized equipment.
Jeff Kratochwill is program director for the Easter Seals Wisconsin Farm Program. He and a small team run AgrAbility. He said he’s inspired by farmers like Posselt.
“We can watch a farmer like Keith feed his cattle all independently by himself using the belt conveyers, we can watch him get in a tractor with a tractor lift, and we can see a very custom-modified skid steer lift, where he can get in and out of a skid steer, and do all the work that any other farmer would be able to do,” Kratochwill said.
He said there are about 38,000 farmers in Wisconsin living with limitations or a disability.
AgrAbility currently serves 400 farmers. He said the reason they don’t help more is that farmers don’t know the program exists.
“Our hope within the AgrAbility program is that truly every farmer who does need that service and does need that help is able to recognize that we’re there and that we can be helpful for them,” Kratochwill said.
Posselt said the program has changed his life forever, and that he encourages all farmers with disabilities to reach out to Kratochwill’s team.
“Look for help. It’s out there. It’s available,” Posselt said. “Easter Seals has an excellent program that helped me in a lot of different ways to continue to do this because I couldn’t do this alone without the help and support of these programs out there.”