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Communicating With Farmers Under Stress

Farmers and those within the agricultural industry have a tendency to be eternal optimists, but with all of the variability in agriculture, there are times when they can become overwhelmed and stressed more than usual.

The North Central Region- Rural Support Network Team has developed programming material specially designed for people who work with agricultural producers and farm families. Extension staff can learn ways to approach and communicate with those in need. We will share materials and lessons learned with the participants of this webinar.

The webinar will include Extension Specialist and Educators from five North Central Region states will provide updated information about how their state is responding to the increase in farmers that are under extreme stress.

Members of the Rural Support Network and presenting on the webinar:

Charlotte Olsen, Kansas State University
Professor/Extension Specialist
Her Extension responsibility is to create research-based community programs that focus on strengthening family relationships in the context of their individual family units and the communities where they reside.

Andrea Bjornestad, South Dakota State University
Assistant Professor, Mental Health Specialist, LPC, NCC
Supporting Military Veterans and Dependents, Impact of PTSD on military veterans and dependents, secondary trauma in military spouses, farm/ranch family wellness.

Suzanne Pish, Michigan State University
Extension Educator, Social Emotional Health
Primary responsibility is with stress and anger management and working with farmers and their .families

Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University
Professor and Extension Family Science Specialist
Parenting and fatherhood; Healthy marriages; Family stress; Rural families; Grief and bereavement; Family life education; Family policy.

Margaret Van Ginkel, Iowa State University
Family Finance Specialist
Outreach hotlines coordinator and human sciences specialist in family finance.

Slides used during the Presentation 
North Dakota’s resources on eXtension:
The Guardian article "Why are America's farmers killing themselves in record numbers?"
MSUE Managing Farm Stress website:
Iowa Concern Number: 1-800-447-1985
Brain Health:  The Impact of Chronic Stress:
The Impact of Exercise on Mental Health:
Communication:  The Importance of Establishing Social Support in Farming & Ranching:

Recognizing Symptoms of Stress During Farming Challenges:
A Five-Step Approach to Alleviating Farm Stress:

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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