Rural FARM CAMPs Aim to Prep Youth for Careers in Mental Health

2016 Farm Camp

Rural high school students interested in careers in mental health fields headed to Rushville, Neb. in mid-June for a week-long FARM CAMP, a.k.a. Frontier Area Rural Mental Health Camp and Mentorship Program. In its fourth year, FARM CAMP introduces rural students to the concept of behavioral health careers that are possibilities within their own communities. 

“To put it in perspective, our small group of clinicians out here sees 90 to 100 patients a week – sometimes more,” said Dr. Cate Jones-Hazledine, camp organizer, licensed psychologist and owner of Western Nebraska Behavioral Health Clinics. “This camp offers a unique opportunity to introduce our youth to the mental health access needs in our rural areas. Hopefully, some of them will stay in the rural area, which could lead to a significant increase in the availability of services.”
With seven high school participants, the students received personalized mentorship from the staff, camp alumni and 11 guest presenters, who talked to the students about their careers, consumer issues and self-care. Omaha artist, Bob Donlan, joined remotely via video link and presented his compelling personal story to help them understand consumer issues and perspectives.
“FARM CAMP provides the students with a lot of detailed information to help in their decision-making,” said Dr. Jones-Hazledine. “The mentorship component is very important because it links students to older peers and professionals who can help guide them as they move forward in their education. We hope that they take away a lot of information that they didn't have before and the knowledge that there are people to help and support them in their journey.”
New to this year’s camp was a Middle School Day, introducing sixth through eighth graders to mental health fields and connecting younger students with high school mentors. Students came from Crawford, Chadron, Rushville, and Hay Springs this year.
“It is always an experience to see the relationships and connections that develop between the campers, the staff and students, and the ongoing connections with the alumni,” she said. “That is what this program is really all about. We are still in touch with all of the students who have ever completed the program!”
FARM CAMP Connects with Students in Winnebago

BHECN visited FARM Camp in Winnebago in July, where six high school juniors and seniors attended the week-long camp to learn more about behavioral health and the opportunities for careers in their own community.
Organized by Anitra Warrior, Ph.D., and Little Priest Tribal College, students were exposed to mental health topics, the importance of cultural awareness, and the need for behavioral health clinicians in the rural community.
“It would be really nice to have people from the community, who understand the community, know the community, and want to stay,” Warrior said in an interview with Harvest Public Media.
Students also researched and presented community development projects offering ideas to make improvements and make connections with those in need in their community.

BHECN sponsored both FARM CAMP programs. For more information on FARM CAMP, visit