Farmstrong partnership promotes wellbeing for agriculture students

06 December 2022 | News

Lincoln University is partnering with a nationwide rural wellbeing programme to promote wellness amongst its agriculture students.

Farmstrong New Zealand shares farmer-to-farmer tips that are supported and informed by wellbeing science to help people cope better with the unique challenges of farming.

Lincoln University Agribusiness Lecturer Dan Smith said the ups and downs of rural life meant it was important for farmers to develop habits that helped them to cope effectively.

"Farmstrong engage with our Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) students five times during their degree and meet with our Diploma in Farm Management students as well. It’s a great way of starting early to promote the importance of wellbeing before they even enter the industry."

As well as delivering lectures and presentations, the organisation meets with Lincoln staff and distributes the Farmstrong book, Live Well, Farm Well, around campus.

During presentations to students, Farmstrong Content Advisory Hugh Norriss introduces resources based on wellbeing science and farmers share their personal stories, relating how they apply the science on farm.

Information provided includes how to stay in the right headspace with healthy thinking, dealing with stress and burnout, sleeping and eating well, taking time out, and getting help.

By working with Lincoln, Mr Norriss said Farmstrong aimed to "help promote the importance of psychological wellbeing as a fundamental aspect of good farming and agricultural industry practice".

"We also want to help embed practical applications of positive mental health practice into the industry learning culture and curriculums, as well as work with Lincoln academics to potentially publish papers into the effectiveness of the Farmstrong approach."

The organisation began engaging with Lincoln after the university identified psychological wellbeing as an important issue for students in today’s complex and high-pressure environments.

"Building mental and physical wellbeing strategies for farming personnel into farm business planning is now recognised as an important driver of business success," Mr Norriss said. "Farmstrong provides resources on how this can be done effectively and relatively easily.

"We have practical tools relevant to anyone in agriculture that can be adopted by students. Our supporters and contributors provide many examples of role models in the agricultural sector that students can relate to."

A case in point is Lincoln alumnus and All Black, Sam Whitelock, a Farmstrong ambassador who has helped the organisation to create wellness resources. Sam holds a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Plant Science, and has conducted research into the flammability of species commonly planted in shelterbelts on New Zealand farms. Within his Farmstrong role, he specifically champions the importance of socialising to build resilience.

PHOTO: Lincoln University Agribusiness Lecturer Dan Smith pictured discussing Farmstrong and Lincoln initiatives with Lincoln Alumni and Farmstrong Ambassador Sam Whitelock.