Sterling FFA Chapter named $1,000 grant recipient

Bend, Don’t Break grant awards announced

National FFA Week

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Foundation FFA, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Farm Family Resource Initiative at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development, announced Bend, Don’t Break grant funding to Illinois FFA chapters to support local initiatives to increase awareness of mental health and wellness in schools and communities.

The Sterling FFA Chapter is among the 15 recipients. The initiative aims to promote farmer mental health in communities through youth advocacy.

“Bend, Don’t Break grant funding is critical to advancing information about the importance of mental health,” said Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “This partnership empowers local FFA chapters with needed resources to address their community’s mental health needs.”

Upon completion of the project, each grant recipient will provide a summary of their event and an overview of the impact it had on creating increased awareness of mental health and wellness efforts.

“The impact this grant is making in the communities of these FFA Chapters is remarkable. The opportunity for young leaders to understand the importance of mental health in their communities is priceless,” said Mindy Bunselmeyer, executive director of the Illinois FFA Center. “As the goal of the grant is to connect directly with the agriculture industry, both FFA members and farmers benefit from the relationships that are being built from the programs this grant supports.”

The Farm Family Resource Initiative provides services to all with a focus on rural Illinoisans and those in the agriculture industry. Anyone can confidentially call or text 1-833-FARM-SOS at no cost to talk with trained a specialist who understands the struggles of farming. Up to six telehealth counseling sessions with SIU Medicine counselors are available for those in need of additional support at no cost to the farmer or farm family member.

“We are pleased to partner with our Illinois FFA Chapters to assist in the important work we are doing throughout the state as we help to keep Illinois farm families healthy both physically and mentally,” said Karen Leavitt Stallman, Ag Resource specialist with FFRI. “With 1 in 5 teens and young adults living with a mental health condition, we are encouraged by the efforts of the FFA Chapters that have been chosen to receive mini grants.”

To learn about the resources offered by the SIU School of Medicine’s FFRI visit

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Shaw Local News Network

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