Helping Farmers Weather the Storm of Emotions + Economics: NY Farmnet (Recorded December 16, 2019)
NY FarmNet, a Cornell University program, helps farmers in New York state navigate the waters of growth, change, and crisis. Since 1986, NY FarmNet has provided free, confidential on farm consulting to thousands of farmers and their families. With its unique, holistic approach - offering both financial and family/personal guidance - the program is able to help farm families work through a multitude of challenges that may be affecting the farm business. This webinar will discuss the impact of NY FarmNet's work, as well as some best practices for working with and engaging farmers.
- Gain insight on providing direct counseling services to farmers.
- Recognize the benefits of addressing both the financial and emotional sides of farm businesses.
- Identify existing networks to support farmers and farm families.
Funded through the generous support of:
Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
Family Consultant, NY FarmNet
Brenda O'Brien was born and raised on a large dairy farm in Central New York. She worked side by side with her father and learned about the farm finances. While she was earning a Bachelor's in Economics and Management Science from the State University of New York at Cortland, she began managing the farm finances, human resources, and herd management aspects of the farm business. She later moved to Northern Virginia where she worked for the United States Department of Agriculture and then for the Maryland & Virginia Milk Cooperative. Brenda continued her education, earning her Master's degree in Counseling, which has proven to be invaluable with her work for more than 20 years in her church community and adult education. She is a trained facilitator in both Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid. With her lifelong experience in agriculture, working on the family farm, and caring for her five children, Brenda brings a unique and valuable perspective to NY FarmNet.
Outreach Director, NY FarmNet
Kate Downes is the Outreach Director for NY FarmNet, a program based at Cornell University that provides free, confidential, on-farm guidance to any farmer in New York State. NY FarmNet works with farmers and their families in a holistic way to achieve both business and personal goals. In her role, she has become a leader on rural and farmer mental health. She works cooperatively to provide resources and support systems within New York agriculture by telling the story of rural New Yorkers and sharing their unique culture. Kate's work is shaped by a passion for community and an agricultural connection spanning back to her childhood. She earned her Bachelor’s in Agricultural Business at the State University of New York, College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill. Through a series of left turns into journalism and public relations, Kate returned to university to earn her Master of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development at University College Dublin, Ireland. She has been trained in both Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid, as well as Michigan State University Extension’s Communicating with Farmers Under Stress and Weathering the Storm in Agriculture: How Farmers Can Cultivate a Productive Mindset. She is a LEAD NY Class 18 Fellow, and serves on the advisory board of NY Agriculture in the Classroom. Featured in the New York Times, Successful Farming, The Rural Monitor, Spectrum News, and many others, Kate shares her experiences in hopes of breaking down the behavioral health stigma and helping the agricultural community to thrive. She is the mother of two and the wife of one - and she balances it all by getting outdoors, crafting, adventuring, and trying to figure out what just came in her CSA box.