Tennessee Farm Family Health & Wellness

The Tennessee Farm Family Health and Wellness Program (FFHW) is a multi-disciplinary Master Producer Program that:

  • addresses Tennessee farmer health and well-being, and
  • is focused on helping farm families and their communities make long-term health investments.

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Farm Family Health & Wellness Promo

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Announcing the 2024 TN Farm Family Health and Wellness webinar dates:

Jan. 25, Feb. 8, Feb. 22, March 7, and March 21. 

Previous 2023 Webinars and Topics

Jan. 19Welcome – Charlie Hatcher
Protecting your lungs on the farm – Joe Beeler
Grain Bin and Farm Safety – Brian Robinson
Feb. 2Productivity protocol: Monitoring the most valuable farm asset – Heather Sedges
The Impact of Stress on Thinking, Decision Making, and Risk Taking – Chad Renzichek
Feb. 16Matter of Balance: It’s not all in your head – Margie Stafford
Talking About Tough Topics – Laura Miller
Mar. 2Money – Let’s Talk About It – Chris Sneed
Health Q&A with Carol and Matt – Carol Aiken and Matt Niswander
Risks in Rural America – Matt Niswander
Mar. 16Farm Safety/Handling Livestock – Kevin Thompson
Farm Transition – Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Farms – Kevin Ferguson
Webinars will be held from 6:00-8:00PM CST/ 7:00-9:00PM EST

Webinar Details

Webinars will be held from 6:00-8:00PM CST/ 7:00-9:00PM EST

WelcomeCharlie Hatcher, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture

Bio: Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. was sworn in as Tennessee’s 38th Commissioner of Agriculture on Jan. 19, 2019. He was appointed by Governor Bill Lee. He is a tenth generation American farmer and a fifth generation Tennessee farmer. Prior to becoming Commissioner, he served for ten years as the State Veterinarian for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. In that role, he protected the health and welfare of animals within the state and promoted the marketability of animals and animal products.

In 1993, Dr. Hatcher founded Rock-N-Country Veterinary Services in College Grove, Tennessee, specializing in livestock. The veterinary practice is now managed by his daughter, Jennifer, who is also a veterinarian. The Hatchers are well-known in the dairy and agritourism industries, too. In 2007, Hatcher Family Dairy began bottling its own milk and today provides milk and milk products to customers in Middle Tennessee. Hatcher’s son, Charles, serves as president of the business.

Dr. Hatcher earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (1984) and a B.S. in Animal Science from Middle Tennessee State University (1980). He lives on the family farm in College Grove (est. 1831) with his wife of forty years, Sharon. His daughter and son also live on the farm with their families.

Protecting your lungs on the farmJoe Beeler

Description: The farm has many potential acute (instant) and chronic (long term) lung health issues.  These can be associated with both the home and the shop, not just the barn and the field.  This talk will identify some of the most common on-farm respiratory diseases (Farmer’s lung, Silo filler’s disease, Organic dust toxicity, and CO2 asphyxiation), and then discuss respirator types, requirements, use, cleaning and storage.

Bio: Joe Beeler is a Research Associate, Weed Science,  in the University of Tennesee’s Department of Plant Sciences. Joe grew up on a small East Tennessee farm.  He earned a degree at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, and then worked for five years in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park conducting fisheries and air quality research.  Joe returned to UT in 2000 to complete a Master’s degree in Plant Sciences.  He has worked in the university system since then, first as a county extension agent, then returning to the Plant Sciences department where he has worked as an extension educator and researcher in forages and then tobacco production.  Joe currently conducts research in the area of herbicide environmental fate and efficacy, which he also teaches at the university level.

Grain Bin and Farm SafetyBrian Robinson

Bio: Brian Robinson is an experienced Emergency Medical Technician who has vast knowledge and experience with farm equipment and machinery. He is a graduate of Walters State Community College where he works as an adjunct faculty instructor in EMT and paramedic programs delivering technical rescue lectures. Brian also works for The Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads Rescue College where he teaches basic and advanced farm and machinery extrication, structural collapse rescue, farm rescue, machinery rescue, and train the trainer programs on these topics. When he is not working, he volunteers for the Morristown Emergency Rescue Squad where he has served as captain for the past 20 years. Brian was born and raised on a family farm in Morristown, TN where they grew corn, hay, tobacco, and beef cattle. He has been married to his wife Joanie for 24 years and they have two children.

*The January 19th session is moderated by Eileen Legault. Eileen works with UT Extension and TN AgrAbility Project in the Eastern half of TN as the TN AgrAbility Area Specialist. Shestrives to improve the overall quality of life for farmers with a disability with rural assistive technology and educational resources. Eileen brings over 14 years of experience with the AgrAbility Program. 

Productivity Protocol: Monitoring the Most Valuable Farm AssetHeather Sedges

Description: A farm’s most valuable asset is you! This session will focus on awareness of common stress-related behaviors, what to do when they appear, and how to manage them in the long-term. Participants will create their own research-based protocol with ready-to-use resources.

Bio: Heather Sedges, PhD, CFLE is an Associate Professor and Human Development Specialist with UT Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences department. Dr. Sedges’ work focuses on stress in farming, ranching, and rural settings. She is a nationally recognized and award-winning expert who is also serving as the lead for the USDA/NIFA-funded Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network: Southern Region.

The Impact of Stress on Thinking, Decision Making, and Risk TakingChad Reznicek

Description: Our brains are wired for dealing with acute stress and survival.  However, surviving is not thriving and getting stuck in “survival mode” can greatly limit how we think; our creativity, problem solving, and decision making.  It can also impact our most important protective factor, our relationships. Learn about the pros and cons of our biological response to stress, the impact of exposure to chronic stress, and resiliency factors that can enhance stress management.

Bio: Chad Reznicek is a behavioral health specialist with the Colorado AgrAbility Project and is committed to helping expand and improve behavioral health support and resources in rural communities. Prior to joining the AgrAbility team, Chad spent 20 years as a licensed therapist, providing behavioral health services in diverse settings with special focus areas in suicide prevention, trauma, mood disorders, adolescent issues, and substance abuse. He grew up in a small town in central Nebraska with a deep respect for agriculture as the heart of our rural communities.

Matter of Balance: It’s not all in your headMargie Stafford

Description: Margie will lead a discussion about general hear/hearing and balance anatomy. She will also give a brief review of some of the triggers for balance and hearing problems, along with some prevention and treatment options to consider.

Bio: Margie Stafford, BSN, MSN, graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and from Belmont University with a Masters of Science in Nursing and a certification in Otorhinolaryngology.  She has worked at various levels in health care from ICU at Vanderbilt to David Lipscomb School as a nurse/director to Director of Nursing at a hospital.  After running a rural health clinic, Margie became a specialist in Head and Neck (ear, nose & throat). She has over 10 years of experience as an ear/nose/throat practitioner including caring for head/neck cancers, laryngeal/oral diseases, nasal and sinus disease, obstructive sleep apnea as well as ear and hearing issues w/ balance/dizzy disorders. Margie currently practices at the Department of Health for the state of Tennessee at the Jackson County Health Department in primary care. 

Talking About Tough TopicsLaura Miller

Description: Dr. Miller’s presentation will explore various types of difficult conversations, including conflict, identity management, and social support. Such topics will be discussed as they relate to family farms and family conversations. Participants are welcome to participate and ask questions throughout the session.

Bio: Dr. Laura Miller is an Associate Professor at the School of Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Dr. Miller received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and joined the University of Tennessee faculty in 2009. She teaches courses in health communication, interpersonal communication, and qualitative research methods. Dr. Miller grew up on her family’s farm in Illinois.

Money – Let’s Talk About It – Chris Sneed

Description: Money – Money – just the mention of the word can raise stress and create anxiety. Yet, this does not have to be the case. Join us as we learn more about how to have effective money conversations at home and work. Tips, strategies, and best practices will be shared to help navigate what can be a difficult discussion.

Bio: Dr. Christopher Sneed is an Assistant Professor and Consumer Economics Specialist in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences with UT Extension. Dr. Sneed has been talking money for over two decades empowering individuals and families with information, skills, and tools for financial success. Dr. Sneed has published numerous research articles, Extension publications, and has been a guest on television, radio, and podcasts sharing his passion for empowering individuals to gain control of their finances and manage their household resources effectively.

Health Q&A with Carol and Matt – Carol Aiken and Matt Niswander

Description: Carol and Matt answer health-related questions.

Bio: Carol grew up on a small family farm in Greene County in Northeast Tn. Her interest in healthcare has existed since a young age. She received her BSN at ETSU and has worked in nursing for nearly 30 years in both the hospital and private sector. 

She has been married to a farmer, Jeff, for 32 years. They produce beef cattle, corn, tobacco, and straw on their farm in Washington County. They are both actively involved in many agriculture organizations and strive to be advocates for all farmers.

Bio: See Matt Niswander below

Risks in Rural America – Matt Niswander

Description: Matt discusses how your rural address influences your risk of health issues, and what can be done to help farmers and ranchers thrive in an industry that is one of the most stressful occupations in the world.

Bio: Matt Niswander is a Family Nurse Practitioner and first-generation cattleman from Lawrenceburg, TN. Along with his wife, Colbie, and three sons, Jake (12), Luke (8), and Caleb (7), they raise Black Angus cattle for direct-to-consumer beef. They are also the owners of Niswander Family Medicine, a local, primary care medical practice in Lawrenceburg.

Matt has been all over the world learning and advocating for rural America and the family values that make our communities strong.  From helping to form agriculture policy in Washington, DC and in Europe, to sharing personal stories about the opioid epidemic, rural mental health, food misconceptions, and leadership growth with politicians and consumers through published articles, podcasts, and even in the streets of New York City. Matt is known for connecting with people and building authentic, personal relationships with everyone from any walk of life.

Farm Safety/Handling LivestockKevin Thompson

Description: “Managing Stress” a stewardship practice that impacts both Herd and Family

Bio: Kevin Thompson is the Director of the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center since 2010. His programs include beef cattle, agronomic studies, equine nutrition and grazing studies, reproductive training program, UT Bull Evaluation program and Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Center. He develops and leads instructional seminars on cattle behavior, low-stress livestock practices and safe livestock handling practices. Kevin was previously with Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and Tennessee Livestock Producer, Inc. where he developed, implemented and managed a genetic improvement program (Producer Genetics); developed and provided oversight of a beef cattle marketing alliance marketing group (Tennessee Beef Producer Alliance); and created and managed a bull leasing program and replacement heifer development and marketing program to support the Tennessee Beef Producer Alliance. 

Farm Transition – Planning Today for Tomorrow’s FarmsKevin Ferguson

Description: Planning the future of your farm operation can be a difficult and emotional task.  This session will assist in the planning process by providing valuable resources for all generations. 

Bio: Kevin Ferguson has been employed with The University of Tennessee Extension since 1986 as a Farm Management Specialist.  Headquartered in Murfreesboro, Ferguson is responsible for farm financial management and marketing educational programs in a multi-county area.  As a member of Tennessee Extension’s MANAGE Program, he provides farm families and agribusinesses with assistance in developing record-keeping systems, evaluating management and marketing decisions, and developing whole farm/business plans.  He makes numerous one-on-one visits and presentations to producers and agricultural industry representatives that span a wide range of topics including beef and forage economics, farm transition planning, agriculture industry trends, and beef cattle management, genetics, and marketing.  He maintains a program focused on beef cattle management and marketing.  In 2019, he began serving in the role of Coordinator of the University of Tennessee Extension’s MANAGE Program.  In this position, he provides programmatic support to a team of nine Extension Farm Management Specialists throughout the state.  In addition, he is charged with promoting and documenting the impact and successes of the MANAGE Program.

Webinar Library and Resources

Below is a list of on-demand webinars. These are available to registered participants and can be viewed for credit in the FFHW program.

  • Safety Around the Farm
  • Health Issues Affecting Farm Families
  • Family Relationships on the Farm
  • Prevent and Preserve: Being Proactive to Protect Your Health
  • Managing Stress on the Farm
  • You Are Not Alone: Taking Care of Your Mental Health
  • Taking Control of Family Finances
  • Maximizing Your Body’s Endurance and Potential

Click the button below to view our on-demand webinars and resources. Please note that these recorded webinars will only be available to registered participants.

*For More Information:

Janet Fox, jfox35@utk.edu

Wendy Smith, wksmith@utk.edu