Wellness in Tough Times

Part Three: Programming

“Communicating Wi th Farmers Under Stress” By Susan Harris

In January 2019, three Nebraska Extension Educators received certification in presenting the programs in the workshop “Communicating With Farmers Under Stress” at Michigan State University. These programs teach agricultural professionals—anyone who works with farmers or ranchers—to recognize signs of chronic stress in their rural communities. The programs also build awareness of potentially stressful situations affecting farmers and ranchers, teach agricultural professionals how to approach someone who is experiencing stress, and highlight resources for farmers who need help. With the support of Nebraska Extension administration, additional WTT team members were able to take the training and have provided added capacity to reach more people with this program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs that were previously only in-person have been presented virtually and in-person, depending on directed health measures of the location. The program curriculum was originally sought as a response to tough economic times for agricultural producers but has proved valuable in communities affected by a series of natural disasters in 2019 and then again as COVID-19 disrupted agricultural production. To date, the team has presented 28 workshops, reaching over 700 participants, with evaluations showing obvious leaps in the following categories when responding with “quite a bit” or “a lot.”


Post-program (% change)

Understanding the impact of stress on our bodies


84.89% (+30.23%)

Confidence identifying symptoms of stress in someone


74.92% (+45.85%)

Confidence communicating with a stressed person


66.45% (+45.05%)

Understanding warning signs of suicide


72.99% (+55.79%)

Knowing where to send people for help


85.71% (+69.10%)


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