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University of Minnesota Extension

Help with tough conversations in hard times

The stress rippling through ag might start on the farm but it doesn’t end there.

That’s why the Minnesota Department of Agriculture hosted “Navigating Conflict and Tough Conversations” this summer, drawing upon the expertise of Extension educator Denise Stromme. Nearly 300 people attended the six workshops across Minnesota, representing a range of professions, including clergy, veterinarians, farmers, government agencies and bankers.

“There were a lot of people saying ‘wow, that’s a lot of areas affected,” says Stromme, a leadership and civic engagement educator. Most attendees had personal connections to farming, whether they grew up in farms or have friends and relatives farming, she notes.

Under her guidance, participants learned how even the hardest exchanges—those involving a farmer’s debt—can be handled with mutual respect and understanding.

“All partners are feeling the conflict. We spend a lot of time talking not just about how to handle conflict, but also how to take care of yourself,” Stromme notes.

Other organizations have indicated interest in hosting similar programs. Stromme also co-hosts a two-minute Youtube series with fellow educator Lori Rothstein. Two for You focuses on applying positive psychology to a variety needs arising both personally and in communities.  

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