The University of Georgia (UGA) is a part of the USDA's Southern Region Farm and Ranch Assistance Network (FRSAN) headed by the University of Tennessee and the Georgia Healthy Farmer Mindset project headed by the Georgia State Department of Agriculture.
The FRSAN program is designed to help farmers going through a challenging time. If you are going through a challenging time, experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression – please reach out to us! We are here to listen and connect you with resources that may be a benefit to you or your loved one. Farming is a stressful occupation, but we need you now more than ever. YOU are your most valuable asset on the farm. Meet our staff below.
Professor / Co-PI of the FRSAN project
My work in Human Development and Family Science and as a UGA Extension specialist focuses on human development. My outreach and applied research focus primarily on brain development, stress, and supporting people struggling with trauma, substance use, and mental health challenges. As Child Life Program Director, I use my expertise on stress and brain development to prepare child development students to support children and families in healthcare settings. In addition, I teach UGA and community audiences about a wide range of topics related to child and adolescent development. Read more.
Since 2015, I have worked with UGA serving farmers in South Georgia. I have a degree in Rural Studies from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, focusing on Rural Business and Economic Development. I grew up in a rural Middle Georgia Community. My uncle assisted my neighbor in operating his cattle ranch. Our family helped grow 2-3 acres of produce each year that provided all the produce for the family each year. In 2012, I went to work with USDA as a field technician, conducting research on bioenergy crops, watershed quality, and row crops. These experiences gave me an understanding of many of the stressors farmers may experience and how to provide them with services or resources that can assist their situations. I am passionate about assisting others with needs they may have or however I can help. In my free time, you will find me in a boat fishing, whether in a South Georgia farm pond or off the coast of Florida.
I work as an Extension educator for all of the projects within the FarmAgain Program. I have a passion for serving farmers across Georgia that stems from growing up on my family's land. I believe that there is no nobler of an occupation than farming, and we must help all Georgia farmers thrive. I understand firsthand that agriculture has many uncontrollable circumstances and I want to be there for farmers when they need support. When I am not assisting farmers across the state, you will probably find me covered in grease working on farm equipment.
Outreach and Dissemination Program Coordinator
I am the project's Graphic designer, photographer, and event coordinator. I have a heart for helping people. In the past, I have personally experienced mental and physical health issues which have given me a heart for coming alongside others who are struggling. I grew up on a farm and have a huge love of the outdoors. Being able to help farmers and others for my job is an absolutely perfect fit. I feel like I am designing for a purpose, which was my overall motive for entering the field of 'design'.
Military Veteran Agricultural Coordinator
Taking care of those who provide for us was an early life lesson that I strive to maintain and promote. From an early age, I recall spending summers working tobacco fields in Kentucky as well as picking peaches, prepping pecan orchards for shaking, and working land across middle Georgia. I was instilled with a strong sense of community and action, taught to respect the land, the animals, and those who spend countless hours tending it. I utilized these invaluable lessons to shape a successful career in the Army before retiring in 2021. I remain extremely passionate about continuing to serve and care for the well-being of veterans, their families, and their livelihood.
As the Military Veteran Agricultural Coordinator, I will be connecting with veterans in rural communities across the state of Georgia, developing a resource directory of mental health services, and providing instruction on various mental health training opportunities. My goal is to educate veterans, their families, and communities across the state of Georgia and beyond, provide them with the best resources available and ensure they are prepared to combat the growing epidemic of mental health challenges and suicide.
REGION TEAM LEADS
PI, FRSAN Southern Region
Associate Professor, Extension Specialist, and Child Life | Program Director University of Tennessee (UTK)
PI, FRSAN Northeast Region
National Young Farmers Coalition
PI, FRSAN Western Region
Director of the Washington State University (WSU) Skagit
PI, FRSAN North Central Region
Assistant Professor, College of Agricultural and
Biological Engineering at University of Illinois
Co‐Director, AgrAbility (Affliate)
GEORGIA STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TEAM LEAD
Venessa A. Sims
Director of Emergency Management and Asst. Food and Feed Rapid Response Team (GA RRT) Program Manager for the Georgia Department of Agriculture