Farm Camp Students 2017
The fifth annual FARM CAMP (Frontier Area Rural Mental-Health Camp and Mentorship Program) took place last month in Rushville, Neb. This year, 11 students attended from rural communities ranging from Howells to Scottsbluff.
Farm Camp is an annual weeklong summer program designed to give rural students interested in behavioral health careers the opportunity to connect with mentors working in rural communities. The camp, funded in part by BHECN, was created in 2013 by licensed psychologist Catherine Jones-Hazledine, Ph.D., of Western Nebraska Behavioral Health.
“It is often difficult to recruit behavioral health providers to come to rural areas to live and work. And if we are able to recruit them, they often don’t stay,” Dr. Hazledine said. “Instead of trying to recruit providers from urban areas, who will likely ultimately be dissatisfied with the rural lifestyle, we need to be accessing the incredible resources already here in our youth.”
“We were able to offer the students this year a very hands-on opportunity to practice what it would be like interacting with ‘real’ clients,” she said. Working with theater students at Chadron State College, they designed an exercise to simulate client behaviors based on a list of symptoms and experiences Dr. Hazledine’s team provided, and camp students were able to interact and identify these behaviors.
Each year at Farm Camp, students have read the book format of Omaha artist Bob Donlan’s play, “Open Door”. At last year’s camp, Donlan joined remotely via video link to present his personal story to attendees, but this year he made the drive out to perform his play live for student attendees as well as other community members. “Open Door” provides an intimate look into the complexities individuals face in mental health and substance use disorders. Donlan’s words and artwork provide a powerful testimony of his journey of recovery.
“Our group of very diverse young people connected very strongly with each other, and with the adults in the group,” Dr. Hazledine said. “A number of them have an even stronger interest in behavioral health careers, and very much want to stay connected to work towards those possibilities.”