Springing into Action for Ag Health and Safety

Springing into Action for Ag Health and Safety

APRIL 2024

Spring has sprung, and as farms are busy and in action with planting season underway, so is our UMASH team.

From welcoming new faces, to raising agricultural safety awareness, catch up on what UMASH researchers and staff have been doing to help farmers, workers, and families stay safe and healthy this spring and all season long.

Welcoming New Faces

Olivia Clark

Olivia Clark

The UMASH team welcomed Olivia Clark, a Graduate Research Assistant focusing on UMASH Evaluation, this spring.

Olivia grew up in Wisconsin and has her Bachelor of Science in Family Studies with minors in Public Health and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Now a dual-degree graduate student in the Masters of Social Work and Public Policy programs at the University of Minnesota, Olivia is interested in community mental health and older adults’ health.

Welcome, Olivia!

Rural Health in Focus

UMN Rural HealthUMASH joined the University of Minnesota leaders, including the Board of Regents and Deans from the Medical School, School of Nursing, and College of Veterinary Medicine, to focus on collaborative efforts to improve rural health.

UMASH Director, Dr. Jeff Bender, presented UMASH’s work in improving the health and safety of agricultural communities, highlighting UMASH’s long-standing research, projects and partnerships, and innovative initiatives like the Emerging Issues and the Pilot Projects program that are helping identify and respond to new challenges impacting the health and well-being of the agricultural workforce and their families.


Last month, UMASH researcher and Associate Professor of agricultural safety and health at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Florence Becot, served on a panel of scholars to discuss the landscape of farmer mental health: Farm Stress: Then and Now.” Watch the online recording of the discussion.


UMASH & National Farm Medicine Center’s (NFMC) Melissa Ploeckelman partnered with the Marshfield Clinic Health System Dermatology Department to bring a free skin cancer screening to the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association Annual Conference in Stevens Point. Sharing UMASH’s sun safety resources, she reminded farmers about the importance of wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or above when working in the sun.

Leading the Herd

Lucas Sjostrom

Lucas Sjostrom

Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and UMASH Advisory Board member, received the University of Minnesota Gopher Dairy Club’s Golden Graduate Award on February 25.

Awarded for his deep involvement in the dairy industry, Sjostrom was recognized as an advocate for the dairy industry through professional roles, community projects, personal initiatives, and efforts.

Congratulations, Lucas!

Raising Ag Safety Awareness

Making Moves in the Media

Avian Influenza

There’s been big news in agriculture this past month with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) A (H5N1) detected in cows across dairy farms in the U.S. UMASH Director and University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor Jeff Bender, DVM, has spoken with several media sources to answer key questions and provide insights about Avian Influenza among wild birds and livestock.

MCN Avian Flu on Dairy Farms



For more on Avian Flu, access UMASH’s HPAI Toolkit and learn more about the developing situation in our most recent Ag Health and Safety Spotlight – Safeguard your farm: Protect you and your livestock from HPAI.


In a discussion about aging on the farm, Megan Schossow, UMASH Outreach Director and Center Coordinator, was featured in Ag Update, as she shared about how transition planning can help support the health and safety of those aging in place on the farm.


UMASH also hit the airwaves as Senior Communications and Evaluation Specialist, Cassie Edlund had the chance to speak on KDIO radio to discuss safety ahead of planting season in the spring.