Governor Laura Kelly Announces Kansas Department of Agriculture Receives $500,000 Grant to Promote Mental Health

TOPEKA – Today, Governor Laura Kelly announced Kansas has received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to spread awareness for the website and destigmatize mental health in Kansas’ agriculture community.

“This $500,000 grant will help us destigmatize mental health and promote the wellbeing of Kansas farmers, ranchers, and our agriculture workforce,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “Kansas farmers and ranchers feed the world – they’re critical to society, and my administration will continue to use every resource available to support them. I want to thank the USDA and the Kansas Department of Agriculture for prioritizing the mental health of Kansas’ agriculture community.”

The Kansas Department of Agriculture will use funding to create a statewide campaign to raise awareness for the website, develop reusable media content, and work to destigmatize the concept of mental health awareness while lowering suicide rates in the agriculture industry in Kansas.

There are several external factors that contribute to stress in the agriculture industry. Creating awareness and equipping workers with support resources will help reduce crisis situations.

“Members of the Kansas agriculture community feel stress that comes from many directions, and it is important that mental health is not overlooked,” said Kansas Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kelsey Olson. “These Kansans are valued members of their community and work hard to grow the food and fuel that supplies our state, nation and world. We look forward to using this grant to support all the members of our Kansas ag family and to shine a spotlight on the urgency of mental health in agriculture.”

“Mental health is health, and we must continue to fight the stigma through accessible resources like the Kansas Ag Stress network — especially as suicide rates are climbing in rural areas,” said Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-03). “Kansans work hard, and we take care of each other. Programs like this ensure every person in every corner of our state knows that if they are struggling, they are not alone, and there are resources here to help.”

In total, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of nearly $25 million for 50 grants supporting Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) State Department of Agriculture (SDA) projects.

Funded projects must initiate, expand, or sustain programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health counseling and referral for other forms of assistance as necessary through farm telephone helplines and websites; training programs and workshops; support groups; and outreach services and activities.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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