Agriculture - Generic

Colorado AgrAbility Project: a Rancher Never Gives Up

Windmill and stock tank in Elbert County, Colorado. © Chris Sorensen /

AgrAbility Program Helps Ag Workers with Disabilities

Trinidad cattle rancher, Tom Miller, is no stranger to hard work.  A second generation rancher, he has worked the ranch and several hundred head of cattle for his entire life. All went well with only the occasional bumps and bruises. They did not slow Tom down... until his joints began to show signs of weakness. Tom then was faced with a series of surgeries to his back, neck, and shoulder. The early ones did not go well. The shoulder surgery could be considered a failure. In 2011 he attended a Winter Workshop presented by The Colorado AgrAbility Project (CAP), a USDA grant-funded partnership between CSU Extension and Goodwill Industries of Denver. CAP’s motto is Promoting Independence in Agriculture for people and their families who have functional limitations. There he was introduced to a Rural Rehabilitation Specialist who visited Tom at this ranch and made an on-site assessment of his needs providing ideas and recommendations that addressed many of his limitations and improved his independence in his cattle work.

Tom is no quitter and he kept ranching. But when an angry mother cow broke his cheek while he was vaccinating, he reached out to the Colorado AgrAbility Project again. A special vaccination gun was acquired allowing Tom some much needed distance to enhance his safety.

Last year Tom had just returned home from another back surgery when he received a letter from CAP that changed his life once again. The Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs had awarded a Veterans Assistance Grant to CAP for the purpose of keeping veterans who are ranchers on the farm despite injuries. As Tom is a disabled US Army veteran he was able to identified assistive technology he needed to continue doing work in his fields and split wood for heat. At the age of 79, Tom is still working his family ranch. If you are facing functional challenges and want to know if CAP can help you, consider attending a Winter Workshop in your area.    

Colorado AgrAbility will host eight free workshops across Colorado this winter.  The workshop theme is “AgrAbility, Mental Wellness in Rural Colorado, and How to work well with Agricultural lenders". Below is a list of upcoming workshops that will be presented by Dr. Norman L. Dalsted, CSU Extension and by Candiss Leathers and Dr. James Craig, Goodwill Industries of Denver. Each workshop will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 and includes lunch for those who pre-register at least one week prior to the workshop. For a complete listing, please see below.

For more information about the Colorado AgrAbility Project or to pre-register, participants can call Dr. Norm Dalsted (970) 222-5657, e-mail him at Norman.Dalsted@ColoSte.EDU , Project Manager Candiss Leathers (720)-539-4435 or email at, or visit

About Colorado AgrAbility Project