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R is for Rural and Resilient Webinar Series

Lessons Learned in the Implementation of a Standardized Evaluation Approach when Assessing Outcomes in Rural Youth Programming

Donna J. Peterson, PhD, and Laura H. Downey, DrPH, MCHES®

Extension Evaluation Specialists at Mississippi State University have promoted adoption of 4-H healthy living programming among rural youth through USDA-funded projects. In these projects, Evaluation Specialists have promoted the adoption of standardized approaches to evaluation and provided professional development to agents in the use of such approaches. Lessons learned through these projects relate to three key areas: 1) the importance of providing intensive professional development training to Extension agents on 4-H healthy living programs and evaluation; 2) the feasibility of replicating an evidence-based curriculum; and 3) the benefit of adopting a standardized approach to evaluation that used 4-H Common Measures. These lessons could inform the work of other professionals who are considering the adoption of a standardized program and uniform approach to evaluation when working with rural youth.


Health Equity, Poverty, and Rural Resilience

Michael Meit

Rural populations comprise nearly 20% of the United States population and experience significant health disparities as compared to non-rural residents. This session will highlight what is known about rural health inequities and how they vary by rural geographic region, describe health inequities in Mississippi, present measures of rural prosperity that can help us to understand factors of risk and resilience in our rural communities, and highlight rural strengths and assets that can be leveraged to improve rural community health and well-being.


The Need to Talk about Research in Rural Spaces

Krista L. Forbes

Rural communities have often been left behind when it comes to participation in research. But the amazing value to the community for the donation of their health data comes from working to ensure these communities are no longer overlooked, as well as to gain a better understanding of how lifestyle, environment, and biology interact with one's health.

There is still a lot of work to do to address a variety of barriers impacting rural communities such as accessibility to healthcare, higher prevalence of chronic illnesses like diabetes, and access to quality internet services. All of Us looks to identify those disparities that continue to hover over rural populations and impact one's health. We want and need to work with our rural partners to bring the program into your community.


Understanding the Challenges of the BIPOC Farmer

Ray Jeffers

Ray was born and raised in Person County, NC, where he also operates the family’s century farm purchased by his great grandfather in 1919. Previously Ray served for 12 years as an elected Person County Commissioner (2008-2020), was President of N.C. Association of County Commissioners in 2014, and was an executive board member of the National Association of Counties. Ray continues to serve on several local and state boards promoting agriculture and rural communities. Ray attended Piedmont Community College and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.


Strengthening Community Response to Farm Stress and Mental Health

Rebekka Dudensing
Miquela Smith
Tiffany Lashmet

Farming is often identified as more stressful than other occupations, in part because financial stress, often triggered by outside forces, and family stress compound. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists share their approaches to addressing farm and rural mental health awareness. Specific topics include identifying emerging trends, recognizing stressors and their impacts on farm families, and reducing stigma and improving mental health within farm and rural communities. The presenters point to resources available to help families, communities, and service providers address local needs.


Paving a Way Forward - Heir Property

Veronica McClendon

Owning heirs property and the challenges that come with it can have a negative impact on the mental health and well-being of rural land owners. These impacts can be especially felt by farmers who make their living from the land. This webinar will help heirs property owners to find a path toward clear title, thus providing avenues toward increased resilience and opportunities to build wealth using inherited land.


No Mississippian Left Behind: Barriers and Opportunities for Rural Mental Healthcare

Michael Nadorff

Rural Mississippians commonly encounter numerous barriers to seeking mental health care that prevent access to care. Although some of these barriers are apparent, such as few providers living in rural areas, other more covert barriers also exist. This presentation will discuss many of these barriers and strategies that can be employed to help make care more acceptable and available to rural Mississippians, as well as resources that can be employed to further increase access to care.


Romantic Agrarianism: Living Up To the Farmer Ideal in Historical Context

Jim Giesen

Walk through a grocery store or tune into a pickup truck ad on television and you will encounter numerous images of the American farmer. Indeed, it’s safe to say that most people interact with these commercial, mythic ideals of farmers far more often than they do with the people actually working the land raising crops or animals. Using images from nineteenth-century paintings to country music videos, this talk explores the history of that mythic idea, charting its rise from the very founding of the United States into the twenty-first century to try to understand how this romantic version of agrarianism may impact farmers’ self-perception even today. It poses the question, does agrarianism create false expectations for farmers themselves?


Inheritance Law, Cooperatives, and How They All Tie Together

Freddie Davis and Terence Courtney

Mr. Freddie Davis will lead a discussion with fellow experts in the field of inheritance law and the cooperative model and draw connections between these and their impacts on socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.


Socioeconomic and Institutional Stressors and Strategies for Resilience Among Socially Disadvantaged Farm and Ranch Families

Dr. John Green

This presentation will focus on identifying the pathways through which socioeconomic stressors influence the quality of life and wellbeing among socially disadvantaged farm and ranch families, with additional attention to the ways in which social institutions may either exacerbate or mitigate these challenges.


What We Have Learned About Agricultural Behavioral Health from the 1980s to the Present Day

Dr. Michael Rosmann

This first-in-a-series webinar examines the economic and social upheaval of the Farm Crisis of the 1980s and compares that era with the present-day strife associated with COVID-19, climate shifts, and federal agriculture policy uncertainties. There are lessons to be learned about how farmers and ranchers can manage stress, their behavioral health, and adapt in a complex socio-economic structure to optimize their production of agricultural commodities: food, fiber, and renewable biofuels. Social disadvantages, such as systemic racism, must be corrected at local, state, national, and international levels because the health and well-being of consumers worldwide depend on a behaviorally healthy and economically sustainable population of diverse agriculture producers who have equitable opportunities to maximize their productivity.


The Hidden Farm Crisis: Chronic Stress and Mental Health in Rural Communities

Dr. Brittney Schrick

Rural communities often lack access to health services. This barrier, along with cultural expectations of self-sufficiency, isolation, financial strain, and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, has increased stress on communities that were already ill-equipped to cope. In this session, we will discuss these concerns, how the extension system is equipping farmers and their communities, and what we all gain from improved rural community health. 


Coping with Stress and the John Henryism Hypothesis

Erin King, MPH, MS

This webinar takes a look at the John Henryism hypothesis, what it means for farmers, and how stress and stress management affect people in rural communities.  


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Filed Under: The PROMISE Initiative October 7, 2022

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A Mississippi State University Extension Service mental health campaign continues to receive national recognition, this time from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A man stands on crutches in silhouette against a background of farm equipment.
Filed Under: Food and Health, Health, The PROMISE Initiative, Prescription Opioid Misuse, Mental Health First Aid, Farm Stress, Rural Health August 16, 2022

RAYMOND, Miss. -- The rollout of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline offers more hope to individuals dealing with mental-health-related distress. That population includes farmers and farm workers, who are among those most at risk for suicide and mental health distress.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, male agricultural workers have the fourth highest suicide rate among men in all industries. 

Closeup of gummy vitamins in a child’s hand
Filed Under: Family, Healthy Homes Initiative, Health, The PROMISE Initiative, Prescription Opioid Misuse August 3, 2022

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Over-the-counter medications and supplements seem safer than prescription drugs, but a dramatic rise in pediatric melatonin overdoses serves as a warning that these products can be dangerous and must be stored safely.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 530% increase in melatonin overdose in children from 2012 to 2020. Most of these ingestions were unintentional and occurred among children 5 or younger in their homes.

Man on a farm holding a baseball cap.
Filed Under: Farming, Farm Safety, The PROMISE Initiative, Farm Stress, Rural Health June 3, 2022

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- For Nathan Casburn, the land that has been in his family since the early 1900s is now more than simply his workplace.

The Tallahatchie County farm is a place of healing from an opioid addiction that began with pain medication prescribed after he was in a car accident during high school.

Casburn explained in a miniseries titled “On the Farm” that one of the biggest hurdles in his recovery was “saying I can’t do this on my own, and I need help with this.”

Man in a maroon shirt and baseball cap in a greenhouse.
Filed Under: Agriculture, AIM for CHangE, Mental Health First Aid July 22, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Miss. -- Jim McAdory wears many hats. On any given day, the Mississippi State University Extension Service agent fields calls from local cattle farmers, teaches kids about the importance of daily nutrition, and tests soil to diagnose front yard and garden harvest problems -- all before lunch.

Based in Winston County, McAdory recently gained an additional role: Mental Health First Aid instructor.

Success Stories

A man gazes off to the left as the sun sets behind him and two cows look at him from the opposite side of the fence he is leaning on.
Agriculture, Health, The PROMISE Initiative, Rural Health
Volume 8 Number 1

Extension destigmatizes mental health issues, one conversation at a time

When Colby Hardin first started working at the Arkansas Department of Corrections dairy farm, he prepared as if going to war.


A woman wearing a blue collared jacket stands in the fruit aisle of a grocery store.
Peanuts, Irrigation, Equine, Equine Assisted Therapy Programs, The PROMISE Initiative, Nutrition, EFNEP
Volume 5 Number 2

In this "What's New in Extension," Extension agents implement better safety standards, train to deliver Mental Health First Aid, and receive national recognition. Also, new irrigation and specialists join the Extension family.

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Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Dr. David Buys
Associate Professor
State Health Specialist