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Ashley Rose, organization director for Clinton, Fayette, Greene and Warren County Farm Bureaus, is the recipient of the 2022 Yvonne Lesicko Perseverance Prize. Known as the Y Prize, the award is presented by the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation and recognizes individuals for their innovative work on farmer mental wellness initiatives.
The Y Prize was created last year through the Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Fund, which was started in 2020 to honor Yvonne Lesicko, former vice president of public policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. The fund, within the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, was established to support the causes and initiatives that were important to Lesicko.
“It is such an honor to be thought of for this award, especially because Yvonne was such an incredible person in our organization,” Rose said. “Mostly I’m hoping that by bringing awareness of this award, it will really encourage people to be brave. I want people to be brave enough to go seek help and know that if they’re using mental health services, it’s not because they’re broken or they’re incapable. It is because they want to be the best that they can be.”
After a devastating, rain-soaked planting season in 2019, Rose began getting calls from members facing major stress factors that come with the challenges of farming. She realized that while she could be a supportive listener, she didn’t have the expertise or tools to be as effective as she wanted to be. With her supervisor’s blessing, she and others took a mental health first aid training course, which proved to be beneficial but not enough.
After researching the best, most accessible avenues for farmers to comfortably receive the help they needed, three of Rose’s four county Farm Bureau boards chose BetterHelp teletherapy to offer as a benefit for their members.
“We really wanted to give our members a tangible benefit that could really lead to a long lasting impact,” she said.
Part of the award’s goal is to lessen the stigma surrounding mental health issues. As the 2022 Y Prize award winner, Rose will be given a platform through Ohio Farm Bureau to share her work and the efforts of the county Farm Bureaus she represents. As such, Rose will be a presenter at the 2023 Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience.
To contribute to the Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Fund, visit the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation website at ohiofarmbureau.org/donate.
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 ohiofarmbureau.org/foundation.
Editors: A high-resolution photo of Ms. Rose accepting the award is available for download.
Caption: Lesicko’s siblings presented the Y Prize to Rose. Pictured from left: Annette Houck, Janene Kehl, Lawrence Houck, and Rose. Photo credit: Dave Liggett
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