College professor mentors students carrying stress from farm to school

An Animal and Food Science professor who recalls going off to college when times were tough on the home farm is now mentoring students with similar situations.

Dr. Kurt Vogel with the University of Wisconsin River Falls tells Brownfield he can usually spot the students that are struggling with stress back home. “Those are those kids that will be sitting in class with their eyes half-open, the dirty baseball caps, and you can tell they’re just tired. And, there are some that have come and started to talk.”

And, Vogel says students often carry a lot of guilt when they leave the farm to attend college. “That’s one common thing that I see with a lot of these young folks is that they feel guilty for not being there to help to shoulder the burden that their parents are carrying, and I totally get that.”

He says one of the roles of a professor is to mentor.  “They’re watching their parents struggle and they’re internalizing all of that. One thing that I’ve found that’s important to do for them is just to listen and then to help to guide them towards resources that we have available on our campus for our students such as counseling.”

Vogel tells Brownfield he has spoken to students with many different situations and causes for their stress, and most still show resilience. “They tend to be driven. They’re motivated. Sometimes they’re frustrated, but they’re always looking for the silver lining, and I think that’s part of the culture within agriculture is that even on the bad days, we’re still looking for ways to see things positively.”

Vogel says farmers and their families should take advantage of resources available to help with stress and mental health issues.

Listen to the Brownfield interview with Dr. Kurt Vogel here

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