The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Farm Field Trip - A Fun Outing

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

Outside La Harpe, on Robin Shipman's small acreage, just west of the Fountain Green blacktop, big things were happening last month to make a fun and entertaining day for a lot of special needs young adults.

Robin is a strong advocate for parents who have children with autism and she works with the Hancock County Department of Mental Health to help those with disabilities.

This is the 4th year she has planned a farm field trip at her rural home where her 28 year old son Landon, who was diagnosed at birth with autism, helps host the fun day.

Landon, has a heart of gold, and he loves to help with the animals. They have two Australian Shepherds, pet rabbits and chickens, and a few other critters.

A feast of food, a beautiful day, and some fun and games, and pats on the back bring a lot of happiness to their special visitors.

Robin said she has always been able to depend on her Dad Richard Nichols of Fort Madison, Iowa for "awesome support." But Robin has a strong will and a unique way of making a bad day better and in finding ways to be positive in a negative situation.

When her first born was diagnosed with Autism, she was devastated, but when she was told about all the things he would never do, she refused to accept it.

"Everyone has a unique gift," Robin said, "something to offer. "It's not what you can't do, it's what you can do," Robin said.

She doesn't want other's pity, but their prayers, and she chooses to be better not bitter.

"I believe in encouraging education for these unique individuals and to keep a positive attitude."

The field trip does just that and more. It uplifts, inspires, and encourages and even educates individuals who come, even with disabilities.

Many have never seen a live chicken, let alone held one. Her son Landon loves to show off his pet rabbits and their dogs and animals.

Robin invited State Senator John Sullivan and State Representative Rich Myers in an attempt to give them a first hand feel on how much good outreach programs do to improve mental health.

Robin learned as a new mom, "Don't say never to me!" Her strong belief in the difference one can make in the quality life of another, is what keeps her pushing for legislators to keep the advocacy programs.

"Waiver programs support many things," Robin says. "The very least we can do is support those who have no voice and are living with disabilities."

"The Bible says, "The meek shall inherit the earth." We are all a work in progress,

Robin knows if you wait around for others to do it, it isn't going to happen.

Raising a child with disabilities can be discouraging for folks and as an advocate, Robin gets calls from all over the United States.

I give them my star approach: Stop, Think, Act, and Reward and then I tell them to be consistent, and patient.

Rather than look at all the things they haven't accomplished, Robin tells them to write down all the things they have accomplished.

"You have your bad days," but Robin gets on her knees and prays, then she sets goals for tomorrow.

"You get out of bed and keep trying. You begin again and again. You model and instill ethics, morals, and values.

Robin said it is amazing what you can do if we all unite our efforts. She was pleased with the local support of her 4th annual Shipman Hobby Farm Field Trip."