During these tough financial and emotional times, farmers and everyone they do business with feel the effects of stress radiating through their work and home lives. Because service-providers provide technical support to their farm clientele, they may be uncomfortable or lack confidence when speaking to farmers in distress. To address this issue, Extension Fond du Lac and Washington County co-developed and co-hosted “THRIVE: Supporting Farmers During Difficult Times” to share with agri-business professionals how to identify signs of suicide, how to refer individuals for help, and how to communicate with distressed farmers. As a result of the meeting, participants indicated they now have the tools to help respond instead of react (3.6 on a five-point Lickert scale); more confident in abilities to support farmers during challenging times (3.4); better prepared to initiate an important conversation with a farmer in distress (3.5); and better understand strategies for effective communication (3.5). Individuals increased their knowledge an average 1.6 points, on a five-point Lickert scale in the areas of embracing change, suicide prevention, and communicating.
Dairy and Livestock Agent Tina Kohlman co-developed and presented “Making the Connection: Communicating with Distressed Farmers”. Tina discussed the difference between empathy (the awareness of feelings, needs, and concerns of others) versus sympathy (the feeling of pity or sorrow at someone’s misfortune); communicating with patience; listening with EARS (Explore, Affirm, Reflect, Summarize); and roadblocks to listening skills. Based on her presentations, individuals increased their knowledge 1.7 points regarding communication. More information regarding communication can be found in the Making the Connection Factsheet.