My name is Josie Rudolphi and I am the project director for the Farm Adolescent and Adult Mental Health Study. I am excited and thankful to be doing this work. I am an assistant professor and Extension specialist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. My work focuses on agricultural safety and health, specially, farm stress and mental health and child agricultural injury prevention.
I grew up on a corn, soybean, and pig farm in Iowa. My first memories on the farm are helping my father in the farrowing building with my two brothers. My younger brother and I would navigate the maze-like pens catching the piglets and handing them carefully to my father. I remember when I turned 13, I was taught how to drive the farm’s John Deere 4000 – what a day! Throughout high school I raised show cattle. While I never brought home the champion banner, I appreciated the opportunity to work alongside by siblings grooming and caring for our cattle. In high school, I rented 28 acres from my father for my FFA SAE project. I learned the ins and outs of what it took to put a crop in.
We know the agricultural environment is hazardous – large machinery, unpredictable livestock, dusty grain bins, and loud equipment- however, I cannot imagine growing up anywhere else. We also know the farm can be a source of stress. The workdays are long, markets are unpredictable, and the weather is a constant concern. Research is suggesting stressful work may contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, most of what we know focuses on adult farmers. Having been raised on a farm, I know that children are not immune or naive to the stressful situations on farms.
This research will work to understand how children and adolescents on farms experience and internalize or externalize farm stress. With this information, we will be able to develop resources, services, and programs so farm families can continue to make memories. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.