Extension announces creation of rural stress task force
University of Minnesota Extension will provide streamlined access to educational programs and resources related to stress and mental health issues in rural Minnesota through a newly formed rural stress task force.
Combining programming and expertise
The task force combines programming and expertise from across Extension aimed at helping rural Minnesota families and communities confront a variety of issues. The team will work with state agencies and agricultural organizations as well as colleagues throughout the University of Minnesota.
“Rural Minnesota is dealing with a number of difficult issues, including the weak ag economy, day care shortages, opioid and other substance abuse and so much more,” said Bev Durgan, Extension dean. “Because Extension faculty and staff live and work in rural Minnesota and because they are knowledgeable about a wide range of related issues, we can provide access to resources that help Minnesota families and communities.”
Task force team
Durgan also announced that Extension livestock educator Emily Wilmes has been appointed to a one-year, half-time position as task force director coordinating Extension’s response to challenges facing rural Minnesota. Wilmes has been a local agriculture educator in Stearns, Benton and Morrison counties since 2013. She will continue in that role half time and other Extension staff will fulfill the remaining portion of her local duties.
“I’ve got rural life in my blood and I know how difficult these times are for farmers, as well as the stresses facing rural communities. I’m passionate, personally and professionally, about working on solutions.”
A Cold Spring resident, Wilmes grew up on a dairy farm in Le Sueur County and earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and master’s in agricultural education from the University of Minnesota. She has played an active role in Extension programs including dairy and beef teams and has organized Farming in Tough Times seminars for Minnesota farmers.
“I’ve got rural life in my blood and I know how difficult these times are for farmers, as well as the stresses facing rural communities. I’m passionate, personally and professionally, about working on solutions,” Wilmes said.
Other members of the task force come from Extension’s programming in agriculture, youth and family development and community vitality and Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.