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University of Iowa News Release

July 17, 2003

Photo Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

UI To Host Program On Farm Stress July 31 In Sioux Center

Farmers face many stressful situations, including long work hours, challenging tasks, poor weather and tough financial conditions. In fact, farming ranks among the top 10 most stressful occupations in the United States, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

In response, the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Sioux Center Community Hospital and Health Center, and the UI Alumni Association are co-sponsoring an educational program for the general public titled, "Managing Farm Stress: Finding Solutions to Life's Challenges." The program, which is free of charge, will take place Thursday, July 31, at Dordt College, Room S101, 498 4th Ave. NE, in Sioux Center. A reception with coffee and dessert will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the 7 to 9 p.m. program and discussion.

In the presentation, speakers will discuss how farm families can recognize the signs of stress and its effects on health, safety and relationships; highlight community sources of assistance; and explore ways to prevent and cope with stressful conditions and events. All members of farm families and the community are welcome.

The speakers will include Carol J. Hodne, Ph.D., Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, UI College of Public Health; Cece Arnold, National Catholic Rural Life Conference; Jeris Petersen, founder and president of Sharing Help Awareness United Network (SHAUN); Duane Bajema, Ph.D., agriculture department, Dordt College; and Stan Visser, Ed.D., Plains Area Mental Health Agency.

Carol Hodne has a background in advocacy, counseling and policy work with farm families, including during the 1980s farm crisis. Her research interests include farm stress and farmers' health and safety. Cece Arnold is mental health director of the Ligutti Rural Community Support Program, National Catholic Rural Life Conference. A licensed mental health counselor with a master's degree in counseling, Arnold is the director of the PASSAGES program, which focuses on the immediate personal and livelihood concerns of people in rural Iowa. Jeris Petersen founded SHAUN in 1998 after her son Shaun was killed in a farm accident. SHAUN is a non-profit organization that provides peer support and professional counseling to farmers, farm workers and their families who experience death or disability. The organization trains outreach workers to help families cope with financial, emotional, health, spiritual, grief and natural disaster issues.

For planning purposes, individuals interested in attending the program are asked to register in advance by calling Rachel Van Gorp at 712-722-8156. Walk-ins are welcome.

This program has been planned in partnership with American State Bank, Dordt College, First National Bank, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, People's Bank, Plains Area Mental Health Agency and Sharing Help Awareness United Network.

The statewide College of Public Health Educational Outreach Series is funded, in part, by a grant from the Principal Financial Group Foundation. More information about the educational outreach programs, including a schedule of upcoming events, can be found at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

CONTACT(S): Media: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, Program information: Jasmine Grassi, 319-384-5485.