4-H youth distributing gifts to farmers
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Local 4-H members showed their thanks to area farmers in a big way this season. The gift looks small but in reality, it comes with a life-saving message.

Mason County 4-H Federation members recently partnered with the Mason County Farm Bureau on a holiday community service project. The 4-H members wanted to thank the agricultural industry workforce for all they do to help feed the world. They also wanted to use the opportunity to share an important message from the Illinois Farm Bureau to help anyone struggling with daily stress, anxiety, depression, addiction or other mental health challenges.

The 4-H Federation members handed out 136 gifts to truck drivers and farmers who were hauling in loads of grain to the Havana ADM facility. The snowman-themed, wrapped gifts consisted of candy and snacks along with a pair of gloves, which were donated by the Havana Farm & Home Store. Attached to each gift was a card from the Mason County Farm Bureau titled “Stronger Together.” Inside the card, the recipient found information on crisis signs and symptoms, and resource information to seek in a time of mental or emotional health crisis.

According to Illinois Farm Bureau, 1 in 5 adults (18.5%) in the U.S. have a mental health disorder in any one year. Almost 15 million Americans suffer from depression. Farmers are great at taking care of our land and livestock, but not always at taking care of themselves. The message from the Illinois Farm Bureau encourages farmers and their families to take time to put themselves first. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the U.S. Depression and anxiety are highly treatable with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Crisis signs and symptoms as listed in the “Stronger Together” brochure include decline in care of crops, animals, and farm (for farmers); changes in sleeping and eating habits; poor concentration; excessive drinking; thoughts of suicide; constant fatigue; neglect of personal appearance; and withdrawal from friends and family. Additional copies of “Stronger Together” are available at the Extension office or Farm Bureau office in Havana.

 


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MEET THE AUTHOR

Joli Pierson began her career with University of Illinois Extension in 2000. She first worked in the Family Nutrition Program (FNP) and later the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), presenting nutritional education in Mason County schools and agencies.

In 2012 she became the 4-H Program Coordinator, where she facilitates the Illinois 4-H program in Mason County. She invites youth to be a part of the 4-H program, which offers the elements of belonging, independence, generosity, and mastery. She works to develop the local 4-H volunteer leadership structure, where youth can benefit from the knowledge, experience, skills, and good examples of citizenship that volunteers have to offer.  She coordinates a variety of programs, leadership opportunities, and special events for both youth and adults in Mason County.

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