Wellness in Tough Times

 Initiated the “Start the Conversation” campaign, focusing on high school youth participating in the annual Future Farmers of America Convention in Lincoln, with green bandanas to symbolize Mental Health Awareness Month in May (Over 9,000 members and guests attend the event, which was postponed to 2020 due to the global pandemic.)

 The multidisciplinary Rural Family Stress and Wellness Collaborative created a website.

 Developed a 12-page bulletin that was mailed to over 7,000 rural residents in WTT project locations, which were further isolated due to the pandemic (The “Start the Conversation” bulletin featured helpful resources, websites, and positive messages to help people connect

during isolation. Issues were published and mailed in May and October 2020.)

 Dr. Christine Chasek, LIMHP, LADC, was a featured speaker at the 2019 Nebraska Extension Fall Conference. A rural resident herself, Dr. Chasek shared stories and inspiration focused on self-care during tough times. The WTT team worked with Dr. Chasek to develop videos and podcasts with messages to improve the well-being of rural

residents and reduce stress during challenging times.

Dr. Christine Chasek at the 2019 Nebraska Extension Fall Conference; photo credit: Susan Harris

Lessons Learned The multi-faceted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed efforts to highlight challenges Nebraskans were facing, including the one-year anniversary of the bomb cyclone. With travel restrictions, protocols that prevented face-to-face programming with the public, and mandates for remote work only, it was critical to find alternate methods and supportive resources to connect with rural residents. Some of the resources we used are described in this eFieldbook, including making connections virtually, using direct mail to reach rural residents, and increasing media outreach. Said H. Maricle, Nebraska Extension Engagement Zone Coordinator, “I love to see the success and global impact. It may not be next door, but it is great to see that the work this team does has an impact on peoples’ lives and success.”

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