Nursing students and faculty provide health screenings at National Farm Machinery Show

Cheryl Witt with Students at Farm Machinery Show

February 22, 2022

UofL School of Nursing and several other Kentucky universities, in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and other partners, provided free health screenings during the National Farm Machinery Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Services included glucose, blood pressure, carotid artery stenosis, hearing and skin cancer checks.

“These health services help farmers and agricultural producers remain at their physical best while providing students with real-world training,” said Cheryl Witt, assistant professor and lead organizer for this event. “This is an exciting experience for students as the show is one of the largest in the nation.”

More than 71 undergraduate and eight graduate students participated in the four-day event. This is the second year UofL nursing students have been involved in the community-based health services at the National Farm Machinery Show.

Witt says in addition to gaining a better understanding of the unique health challenges facing Kentucky’s farming communities, the students also develop cultural humility that can be applied in their practice. Funds for the screening at the National Machinery Show were made possible through a private donation from Mrs. Ann Mead to the UofL School of Nursing.

Witt has received recognition for the work she is doing to bring attention to the mental health crisis among farmers in Kentucky. According to research, farming and agricultural workers have among the highest reported rates of suicide across occupational groups.

She says her work to address this is personal. Witt is a sixth-generation farmer and nurse. She hopes the outcome of her work will help the non-farming community be more informed about what farmers do and deal with on a day-to-day basis. She also wants to help the healthcare community better understand the culture of farming in order to better relate to the farmer when providing care.

“Farming is not just an occupation, but a way of life. The land, crops, livestock, family and facilities are all a part of the farmer’s soul. The attachment to these puts tremendous pressure on the farmer to maintain and be fiscally and physically responsible for all, because this is a part of their identity,” Witt said.

Witt also the project director for Kentucky’s Raising Hope campaign. The focus of the grant-funded initiative is improving farmers’ physical and mental health. It is designed to provide farmers access to resources through research, prevention, intervention and community education. The platform plans to offer personal stories from farmers and their families. A hotline number also is available to offer real-time advice and referrals at no cost.

“Having all these resources in one place makes it easier for farmers to find specific answers, but more importantly, Raising Hopes builds a community where farmers can not only speak out about their personal struggles, but it also offers real-life encouragement to support others,” Witt said. “Just by sharing experiences, farmers and farmer families realize they aren’t alone in their struggles and that it really is okay to talk about their feelings and seek help when it is needed.”

For more information about Witt’s initiative, email her at  For more information about Raising Hope, visit

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2022 National Farm Machinery Show