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New superintendent named

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DON GROVES/Albany Ledger

Erin Oligschlaeger, Albany’s new superintendent, looks at some of the items in a welcome basket presented to her Jan. 26 by Albany R-III Board of Education president Kerry Paul.

By Don Groves

The Albany Ledger

The Albany R-III Board of Education has hired Erin Oligschlaeger as the district’s new superintendent.

Oligschlaeger will replace John Rinehart, who will take over July 1 as superintendent of the West Platte School District.

Oligschlaeger met with the board and staff members at the board’s Jan. 26 meeting.

“I’m excited to be here,” she said before the meeting.

Oligschlaeger is currently director of student services at the Excelsior Springs School District, where she has been for two years. Her duties include working with special education, the Missouri Preschool Project, Parents as Teachers, health services, district social work and various other state and federal programs.

Prior to Excelsior Springs, Oligschlaeger was director of special services at Marshall. She served as principal for the Eldon School District and began teaching at the Park Hill School District in Kansas City.

Oligschlaeger is a 2002 graduate of Avila University. She received her master of social work in education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“I’ll be finished with class work this semester and will just have to do my dissertation,” she said.

Her husband Kevin will teach science at Albany. They have two daughters, 11-year-old Kennedy and 10-year-old Sydney, and a son, 4-year-old Leo.

Oligschlaeger will take over July 1 as superintendent for the Albany R-III School District.

“I enjoyed the interview process,” she said. “I felt like it was good fit for my family.”


PHARM Dog gains national attention

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Alda and her PHARM Dog, Sweet Baby Jo, work together on their family farm. Alda and her husband Rick raise cattle. Jo helps them herd and sort and is an asset to the farm.

By Don Groves

The Albany Ledger

A locally owned nonprofit organization that helps farmers with disabilities is now getting requests for its help from across the nation, thanks to a bit of publicity.

PHARM Dog USA (Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri) places service dogs with farmers. Jackie Allenbrand started the program in 2005 with funding help from AgrAbility. When funding through that program ended, Allenbrand continued PHARM Dog by creating a local nonprofit in 2012.

“It’s a service for farmers or farm family members who may have disabilities or illness who needs a four-legged farmhand,” Allenbrand said.

PHARM Dog has placed nine dogs with farmers in need, the first one in 2009. Allenbrand, along with volunteer trainers, travel to a farmer’s home to work with the farmer and the dog.

“It’s difficult for farmers to leave their operation for training so we go to the famers with the service dogs,” Allenbrand said.

She said that training, which includes teaching dog commands and working with equipment, typically lasts a week. The trainers, however, which have never received a salary, cover their own travel costs.

Allenbrand said she’s been able to make PHARM Dog a success with funding from donations and grants such as MFA and Pioneer. She works with dog trainers in Plattsburg and Packwood, Iowa, and locally with Elaine Wallace in Gentry, none of whom receive a salary.

While the funding PHARM Dog has received has helped area farmers, requests for a PHARM Dog are now coming in from New York, Mississippi, Colorado, Arkansas and other states following feature stories about the program in Out Here Magazine and Kansas Farmer magazine. Allenbrand was also nominated for Country Woman Magazine’s 45 Amazing Women for her work with PHARM Dog and will appear in the February/March edition.

To meet the increased demands for service dogs, Allenbrand has set up an online fundraiser with the goal of raising $25,000 for PHARM Dog. Donors can contribute any size amount by visiting or Donors may also contact Allenbrad at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or donate to the PHARM Dog account at Great Western Bank. As of Jan. 20, PHARM Dog’s gofundme site had raised $400 of its $25,000 goal.

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