How Do You Experience Stress? How Do We Survive? How Do We Thrive?

  • Date: Friday, Oct. 27
  • Time: 9:30-10:45 a.m.
  • Speakers: Anne Schwartz, Blue Heron Farm; Lori Mercer, Farm Aid; Julie Jesmer, WSU Skagit County Extension/Western Region Agricultural Stress Assistance Program; Chad Reznicek, Colorado AgrAbility Project
  • Location: Bldg. 204 - Downstairs South Wing, Rooms #11-13
  • Track: Track A

In a world where little feels controllable and new pressures are constantly arising, farmers and ranchers can feel stuck, stymied and stressed. This workshop and set of one-on-one consultations aim to equip participants with new perspectives and strategies when our “overwhelm default” threatens to take over.

We’ll begin with an introduction to farm stress, and an overview of programs created to support farmers, their families and their communities. Narratives and interactional activities will identify existing protective factors and adaptive strategies while promoting new self-care and coping skill sets as well. The session will conclude with a review of resources available to agricultural producers within Washington state.

The session will also include ongoing one-on-one or small group sessions with an agricultural behavioral specialist, a social worker/ag specialist, and farm and ranch management specialist, as well as arranging follow-up services/referrals as appropriate. Appointments will be available for sign up.

About the Speakers

  • Anne Schwartz

    Blue Heron Farm

    Anne Schwartz has been an organic farmer for 44 years. Anne has also been an activist to advocate for better agriculture for nearly 50 years. She has and continues to serve on several boards and advisory committees, and along with her husband, served as volunteer EMTs and firefighters for the Rockport Fire Department for 40 years. Anne has also experienced stress on many levels both as a business owner and lifetime activist and has worked to address stress in her life. She has joined the WRASAP team to further that work and share experiences.

  • Lori Mercer

    Farm Aid

    Lori Mercer is a hotline operator with Farm Aid. After a three-decade career in private practice audiology, the urgency of climate change prompted a need to change vocations to participate more directly in contributing to a solution. She returned to graduate school via Washington State University and emerged in 2019 with an MS in Agriculture with a focus in food systems and agroecology. Directly supporting farmers and ranchers, especially in this era of upheaval, is an honor and responsibility she embraces.

  • Julie Jesmer

    WSU Skagit County Extension/Western Region Agricultural Stress Assistance Program

    Julie Jesmer is the program coordinator for the Western Region Agricultural Stress Assistance Program (WRASAP). Her outreach role focuses on connecting, educating, collaborating and organizing people and organizations that share a vision for addressing agricultural stress in all of its complexity. Her widely varied educational and work background gives her a unique perspective that can blend mental health concepts and community development with a backdrop of agricultural awareness. In her administrative capacity for WRASAP, Julie organizes the processes and procedures that help the WRASAP team function and maintain its focus on suicide prevention and improving the mental well-being of farmers, ranchers and farm workers throughout the western region. Julie has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and a master’s degree in agriculture, specializing in urban agriculture.

  • Chad Reznicek

    Colorado AgrAbility Project

    Chad Reznecek is an Extension Behavioral Health State Specialist with the Colorado AgrAbility Project, committed to helping expand and improve behavioral health support and resources in rural communties. Prior to joining the AgrAbility Team, Chad spent 20 years as a licensed therapist, providing behavioral health services in diverse settings with special focus areas in suicide prevention, trauma, mood disorders, adolescent issues, and substance abuse. Chad grew up in a small town in central Nebraska with a deep respect for agriculture as the heart of our rural communities.