Jennifer Theurer.JPG

It was a typical Wednesday. I sent my youngest off to Youth Group without a second thought. When it was over, he came home and was off to bed shortly after. As I took a minute to scroll through Facebook, I saw them.

One by one my fellow moms started posting tallies of how many people in their house had the stomach flu. I didn’t panic and I didn’t run for the disinfecting wipes right away. I had a very wait-and-see attitude. Sort of like standing on the railroad tracks, seeing the train coming but staying still because you know you can’t outrun it.

The agriculture industry has seen the train coming for a number of years but stubbornly continues to stand in the middle of those train tracks. When you are being attacked by animal rights activists, commodity market prices and, sometimes it seems, even the president of your own country, it doesn’t take much for it all to overwhelm you.

This time of year can compound the smallest grievances. The bright, colorful lights make your head hurt. The Christmas music that’s been playing since Halloween grates your nerves and cheerful greetings go ignored. You may think this is just another sign that you’re getting older but it could also be a sign that you’re depressed.

Depression comes in many forms. It affects everyone differently. Your symptoms may not be the same as the brochure you read in the doctor’s office. Admitting your mood hasn’t been the greatest or needing someone to listen to you isn’t a sign of weakness. You mourn the calf that doesn’t live to see its first full day. Your heart pinches when you see the bottom fall out of the grain markets. If recovering from those setbacks seems impossible, reach out to a friend or even call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Much like when you are stricken with the stomach flu, as my family was the weekend following that fateful Wednesday, sometimes you have to take time for your mind and body to recover. You need to set a good example for the next generation of farmers and ranchers coming up. They need to know that their mental health is as important as their physical health.

Those young farmers and ranchers have new agricultural education opportunities in northeast Nebraska as Field Editor Kylene Scott reports in this week’s cover story. The Wayne School District, Wayne, Nebraska, was one of several institutions including Wayne State College, University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Little Priest Tribal College, Nebraska Indian Community College, Northeast Community College, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, and Wayne Community Schools to enter into the Northeast Nebraska Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Compact.

This measure will improve college and career readiness for area youth while giving life-long learners the tools they need to help their community grow. This program will provide young people the education they need to positively contribute to agriculture physically and mentally.

Jennifer Theurer can be reached at 620-227-1858 or jtheurer@hpj.com.

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