Staying connected and finding support during the pandemic
Make the most of your day by joining our “Lunch Break” team. Get to know your local educators, learn about upcoming events and local resources to help you and your farm thrive.
Staying connected can be one of the most valuable time investments a person can make to support their overall health. Relationships with others positively affect mental well-being and ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness. During these times of social distancing and the avoidance of in-person gatherings, new doors are opening to farmers to stay connected online. Recently, a team of educators with Michigan State University Extension created “Lunch Break” sessions via Facebook Live to provide updates, tools, and resources and keep the farming community connected.
During these weekly “Lunch Break” meetings, the team of educators discuss important topics of interest. In their segments, each educator provides updates in their area of expertise. Topics include Field Crops, “Beef Tips,” a farm financial segment titled “Financial Fondue” and a farm stress segment called “Mental Health Minute." Learn more about these topics:
Field Crops: The Central Michigan Field Crops report includes weekly updates on important issues facing farmers. Topics include insect, disease, weed, weather, tillage, harvest and crop fertility as well as the resources necessary to assist farmers in managing these issues. In addition, timely farm safety tips are shared to keep farm families safe and health throughout the year.
“Staying connected, learning new skills, and having the opportunity to connect with peers is an important part of farming. During our “Lunch Break” meetings our team works to keep farmers connected and informed through a fun and inviting platform.” - Paul Gross, Field Crops Educator
Beef Tips: This portion of the Lunch Break gives producers a quick introduction into topics that are current and meaningful. The most recent topic was on fecal egg count testing. The topic was well received and provided MSU Extension educator Kable Thurlow a chance to interact with a producer from another state, as well as several from Michigan.
“I find the podcast very informative. From what is available for farm programs to frost seeding for the first time to keeping my sanity in these trying times.” - Ed Nogaski, Farmer/Agricultural Producer
Financial Fondue: This portion of the Lunch Break brings a business perspective to the table. This segment provides farms with up-to-date information on market issues, government programs and financial planning.
“Our team approach provides a unique perspective that connects to a broad audience. It has been especially encouraging to see the support from women.” - Corey Clark, Farm Business Management Educator
Mental Health Minute: The number of uncontrollable risk factors involved in farming inherently causes stress for farmers, farm families, farm workers and the agribusiness community. In the Mental Health Minute, tools and resources are shared to help the farming community create self-awareness, improve their fundamental knowledge of mental health and learn coping strategies centered around supporting good mental health.
“The heralding truth behind behavioral health, is that often the effectiveness of the supports we are providing will not likely be publicized. Every connection and outreach made to someone that is struggling can have a lifelong impact. As friends, neighbors, and supporters of MSU Extension, you are supporting the continued development of resources and tools further reducing the impact of stress, mental illness, and the potential loss of life by suicide through our farm stress efforts.” – Eric Karbowski, Behavioral Health Educator
When thinking about social networks and staying socially connected, if one door closes, open a new door of opportunity to find others. By learning new ideas, staying up to date with trending areas of interest and connecting with peers, you might just find that investing 15 minutes per week, can add value beyond your checkbook.
Opportunities to Connect
Michigan State University Extension’s many resources and information on farm stress can be found at the Managing Farm Stress website, such as access to the teletherapy pilot project MSU Extension Teletherapy and free online farm stress training Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training. There you will find descriptions of programs such as Communicating with Farmers Under Stress and Weathering the Storm, as well as other articles, projects, and resources. Learning self-awareness as well as signs and symptoms of stress, mental illness and suicide can better enable the farming community to support each other during trialing times.