Building Resilient Agricultural Communities


A Working Forum on Mental Health Outreach and Community-Based Support for Minnesota Farmers, Agricultural Workers, and their Families

June 20, 2018
8:30am – 4:00pm

University of Minnesota – Cargill Building
1500 Gortner Ave, St Paul, MN 55108

Mental health challenges are an important public health issue in agricultural communities. The State of Minnesota has responded to these challenges through a number of task forces, help lines, and workshops. All these efforts highlight the need for embracing a broad coalition of community members to strengthen and add resilience to the mental health system in our agricultural communities.

In response to this need, the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are hosting a working forum to bring stakeholders together from across the state of Minnesota to explore the impact of availability, accessibility, affordability, and acceptability of mental health outreach and support services in rural Minnesota.


  • Networking to foster new and existing partnerships to support community-based resilience
  • Small group activities to identify gaps and best practices in community-based programs
  • Seed grant opportunities for building partnerships to support innovation in building resilience in agricultural communities.

Due to space restrictions, registration for this event is limited.  If you are interested in attending or would like more information, please email us at

The forum is framed around four key aspects of mental health outreach and support:

  • Availability: Includes the lack of staffing or shortages of services and resources, which limit the receipt of mental health services and/or limit people’s ability to get help through community based resources or other service channels.
  • Accessibility: Addresses community knowledge and infrastructure regarding where, when, or how to obtain services as well as a lack of coordination across the health and social service system.
  • Affordability: Speaks to the costs associated with receiving and providing care and support (both monetary and opportunity costs).
  • Acceptability: Looks at issues of stigma or the culture of seeking or not seeking assistance for mental health needs.

At the forum, a panel of diverse stakeholders will share their perspectives on these key aspects of Minnesota’s rural mental health system. Following the panel discussion and Q&A session, forum participants will be invited to engage in small group activities to further the conversation around building resilient communities to address stress and mental health outreach and support for farmers, agricultural workers and their families. The outcomes of the small group activities will be shared with forum participants.

Finally, forum participants will be given the opportunity to apply for seed grant funding to develop partnerships that promote innovative research and actions to improve the health and well-being of farmers, farmworkers and their families.



Bruce Alexander, PhD
UMASH Director
Professor and Head, Division of Environmental Health Sciences
University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Dr. Alexander is Mayo Professor of Public Health and Head of the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. He is an occupational and environmental epidemiologist with research interests in cancer, respiratory disease, injury prevention and control, One Health, the health of agricultural populations, and global health. His work focuses on the development of multidisciplinary approaches to address complex public health problems and building public health and practice capacity.  Dr. Alexander is the director of the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, which is dedicated to improving the health, safety, and well-being of the people who produce our food by building interdisciplinary networks and applying a One Health approach to research, education, and engagement. He is also the director of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Training Program of the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety.



Meg Moynihan
Senior Advisor on Strategy and Innovation, MN Dept of Agriculture

Meg Moynihan ran the organic program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for 13 years and now serves as Senior Advisor on Strategy and Innovation. For the past year or so, she has focused on farm stress issues. Meg previously ran a nonprofit agriculture organization in Michigan and worked as an educator and evaluator. She also served with U.S Peace Corps in Thailand. She and her husband, Kevin Stuedemann, own and operate a diversified 70 cow organic dairy farm in Le Sueur County. In 2016, she took a leave of absence to run the farm singlehandedly, giving her direct experience with the stress, anxiety, burnout and depression that so many farmers experience.



jeffbender-2016afJeff Bender, DVM, MS
Co-Director, UMASH
Director, One Health Workforce Project
Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Panel Moderator

Dr. Jeff Bender is a Professor in the School of Public Health and an adjunct professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He is currently the Director for the USAID funded One Health Workforce Project, a workforce development program focused on preventing, detecting, and responding to emerging pandemic threats. In addition, he is a Co-Director for the NIOSH funded Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center (UMASH), a Center focused on improving the health of agriculture workers and their families. His primary teaching and research interests include infection prevention, disease surveillance, emerging zoonotic diseases, occupational safety, food safety and antimicrobial resistance.
Read full bio.

Doris Mold
Past President, American Agri-Women (AAW)
President, Sunrise Agricultural Associates, LLC
Farm co-owner/operator

Doris Mold is Past President of American Agri-Women (AAW) the nation’s largest coalition of women in agriculture. She is an Agricultural Consultant, Agricultural Economist, Educator, Advocate, and Catalyst, as well as a farm co-owner/operator. She is the President of Sunrise Agricultural Associates, LLC an agricultural consulting firm. Her consulting practice has included a broad range of work, including but not limited to management, business and economic analysis, business and transition plan development and coaching, evaluation, marketing, advocacy, leadership, education and organizational development. She also teaches Farm and Agri-Business Management at the University of Minnesota (U of MN) for MAST International.
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Cynthie Christensen
Therapist, Oak Ridge Teletherapy

Cynthie Christensen is both a farmer and a licensed therapist with a passion for rural mental health. She has a private practice, Oak Ridge Teletherapy, offering therapy in-person, face-to-face video streaming, and via telephone. For the past 18 years, she has been transforming lives as a psychiatric nurse in an inpatient hospital. Cynthie has been a farmer all her life. She graduated in Class III of the Minnesota Agricultural Rural Leadership (MARL) Program and currently serves as the President of the Houston County Farm Bureau.

Gene Hugoson
Analyst, Veterinary Population Medicine
Former MN Commissioner of Agriculture 

Gene Hugoson is on staff at the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, working with Food System Policy. The Center spans four different colleges as they work with government agencies and all members of the food chain to address animal and human health issues. Prior to joining the University in 2011, Hugoson served as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Agriculture for more than 15 years for three different governors.
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Paul Force-Emery Mackie, PhD, LISW
Professor, MN State University, Mankato
Past President, National Association for Rural Mental Health

Paul Force-Emery Mackie, PhD, LISW is currently Professor of Social Work at Minnesota State University, Mankato and is the Immediate Past President of the National Association for Rural Mental Health. He earned his MSW degree from The Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, and his PhD from the University of Denver. His research focuses on rural behavioral health and social service issues, resulting in the publication of several academic journal articles and two books. He is currently working on rural policy issues at State and Federal levels, and regularly advises agencies and lawmakers seeking to identify and address rural behavioral health needs. Dr. Mackie grew up on his families dairy and hog farm in central Michigan and now resides in Mankato with his wife and two daughters.

Gloria Contreras
Board President, Manos Latinas

Gloria Contreras is the former Coordinator of the Health Promoters Program of Centro Campesino that served Latino immigrant agricultural workers and their families in South-Central Minnesota. Currently, Gloria leads Manos Latinas, a cooperative of former agricultural workers and rural Latinas that got involved in the production of “comida saludable” (healthy food) for their families and communities. Manos Latinas was created to improve the quality of food that Latino families consume and to make organic food, free of toxic chemicals, accessible to low-income households.



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