Peer supporters trained for Nebraska AgrAbility program/H3>
Six agricultural producers who received help through the Nebraska AgrAbility program to overcome disabilities and regain independence have now been trained as volunteer peer supporters, to help other farmers and ranchers overcome similar challenges.
The six received a day and a half of intensive training in Kearney recently. The workshop was offered to provide a professionally trained team to enhance the work done by Nebraska AgrAbility and their associated agencies. It was entitled "AgrAbility Neighbor-to-Neighbor Peer Support Training: Be a Best Friend."
The Nebraska AgrAbility staff will utilize the skills of these newly trained peers to meet the needs of their clientele. AgrAbility helps farmers and ranchers with disabling injuries or other health-related conditions become independent enough to carry on and succeed at their profession. UNL Extension and Easter Seals Nebraska are partners in the program.
"Peers or peer supporters can offer valuable assistance in meeting and overcoming the challenges presented by disabilities," according to Bill Booker, one of two UNL Extension educators assigned to work with AgrAbility. "Perhaps you can remember times that it would have been helpful to talk to someone who had been there before. The value of peer support cannot be overstated."
Peers become even more important to a person who has experienced a major loss or disability as time passes, because they tend to become the only people who can relate to the experience, according to Booker. Consequently, the peers in training found themselves beginning to assume the role as the conference progressed. This made the value of peers obvious to them.
The Kearney workshop was conducted by Dr. Robert Fetsch, Director of Colorado AgrAbility, who developed the curriculum, with Nebraska AgrAbility staff assisting. Peers learned what peer support is and is not; effective ways to connect with and establish rapport with other farmers and ranchers who have acquired disabilities; and signs of high stress, anger, depression and suicidal thinking.
Activities during the training helped them enhance their active listening and problem-solving skills as well as helping them make effective referrals to appropriate professionals.
The Nebraska AgrAbility Project, on the web at agrability.unl.edu, has provided education, assistance and advocacy since 1995. In its 14 years, Nebraska AgrAbility has helped 380 farmers and ranchers, including 80 last year.