Farm life can be demanding and stressful, and the mental health challenges that come with it is an ongoing problem. Ohio Farm Bureau has been a part of many initiatives to raise mental health awareness and reduce stigma surrounding the issue in rural communities. Yvonne Lesicko, former Ohio Farm Bureau vice president of public policy who died unexpectedly in June 2020, was one of the leaders who helped to create the state’s “Got Your Back” farm stress coalition.
The Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Fund was created last year to recognize her life and career. The fund, within the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, was established to support the causes and initiatives that she cared so deeply about, including farmer mental health. To date, due to the generosity of more than 300 donors, the fund has raised more than $80,000.
The Yvonne Lesicko Perseverance Prize, the “Y Prize” for short, is a new award created by the fund. This award will be used to recognize groups or individuals working to find innovative solutions to farmer mental health issues, including: addressing issues of access to resources, lessening of stigma around mental health issues, and collaboration among health care, rural medicine and agriculture groups.
“We hope the Y Prize can provide recognition and a ‘thank you’ to groups and individuals working to advance this cause,” said Kelly Burns, executive director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation.
The Y Prize award winner, and the program or work he or she represents, will be given a platform to share their work and efforts. As part of the award, Ohio Farm Bureau will feature the award winner in membership and outside media, and the Young Ag Professionals Winter Leadership Experience will feature the award as part of the conference program. All of this is part of the award’s goal of lessening the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Nominations are now being accepted. Visit ofb.ag/yprizenomination to complete the nomination form by the July 23 deadline.
If you would like to contribute to the Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Fund, visit ofb.ag/lesickomemorial
The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, a 501(c) (3) charitable, nonprofit organization, understands the need to inspire innovation and cultivate investment in Ohio’s farm and food community. Learn more by visiting ofbf.org/foundation.