Taking care of crops and animals is hard on farmers and agribusiness professionals, who contend with stressors ranging from low commodity prices and other financial issues to extreme weather events and injuries. NMU alumnus Remington Rice is applying his psychology degrees to his career as a community behavioral health educator with Michigan State University Extension, helping farmers better manage stress and enhance their own health and wellness.
Rice conducts education and outreach efforts statewide, with a particular focus in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. He returned to his alma mater earlier this semester to give a related presentation titled “Mending the Stress Fence.” Rice earned his bachelor's from NMU in 2014 and a master's in 2016.
“The NMU psychology graduate program provided me with the skills to use evidence-based practices in my career,” he said. “At NMU, I developed other skills in advanced statistics and research design. Outside a laboratory, these skills can be applied to many real-world scenarios and careers.”
Rice also serves as the statewide lead for MSU Extension's Managing Farm Stress outreach program, an which has emerged as a national leader in tackling agricultural stress and related mental health issues. The program seeks to give people opportunities, education and critical tools they may need to deal with stressors such as isolation and having an unsteady source of income.
Farm families and other agricultural professionals can access farm financial/business management consultations, succession planning tools, farm stress resources and teletherapy for free. In one-on-one consultations, a health educator with expertise in mental health—like Rice—and a finance or business expert from MSU will meet with farm families and help them reach their finance, succession or health goals.
The Benzie County native represents the fifth generation of his family to grow up on the same farm.
“I'm so grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community that raised me,” said Rice in a Record Patriot story after being hired to the post in September 2021. “I grew up participating in 4-H and seeing my family make use of MSU Extension services like soil testing. I also saw firsthand the stress that can be associated with farming. So while this is a new position for me, it's also like a homecoming in a lot of ways.”
After graduating from NMU, Rice obtained his doctorate in health psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University.