Johnson combines her two passions in advocacy
BEDFORD, Va. — Amy Johnson, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2022 Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award winner credits her career in healthcare and advocacy for farmers to her parents, a public health nurse and a farmer.
Farmers’ mental health and safety are the main focus of this Central Virginia family nurse practitioner who cares for people from birth to death.
She frequently gives presentations on farm safety and mental health and the importance of preventive healthcare in agriculture, and she advocates for agriculture on the state and national levels, VFBF said.
“I’m very lucky to be able to combine two things I’m passionate about — healthcare and agriculture,” she said in a VFBF news release. “It’s a great opportunity to educate both the general public and healthcare professionals about how to help the ag community, while also educating the ag community about the resources available to make their lives better. I feel like I can make both worlds better by connecting them and bringing those resources together.”
The award honors women for achievements in and contributions to the agriculture industry.
Faye Hundley, VFBF Women’s Leadership Committee chair, said Johnson “is a great role model for women in agriculture and in Farm Bureau. She exemplifies leadership and is an example of all you can accomplish if you take advantage of opportunities and stay engaged—the sky’s the limit. She’s well-deserving of this recognition.”
The effort to address the mental health of farmers and take away the stigma of seeking help began for Johnson in 2018, she said.
Now president of the Bedford County Farm Bureau, Johnson had a background in farm safety and in 2018 she was asked to tackle the topic of mental health in the farming community.
It went outside of farmers’ comfort zone, she said, but opened the topic up for people to talk about.
Johnson said the effort led to getting the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services involved with a grant.
She now serves on the VDACS Farm Stress Task Force and the VFBF Farm Safety Committee.
These efforts led to Virginia having a dedicated crisis line for farmers, she said.
The 24/7 resource for help can be reached by phone calls and texts. The number is 833-897-2474.
Johnson was quick to say it has been a team effort and attributed the cooperation of many people and groups to their progress in community outreach.
While mental health is a focus for Johnson as the effects of stress are increasingly part of a national conversation, she is also passionate about farm safety advocacy.
The dangers of handling livestock are just one aspect she wants people to be more aware of. She said a Holstein bull is one the most dangerous farm animals. It is large, filled with testosterone and knows no boundaries since it does not fear humans.
She also cautions farmers to stay alert when working with machinery.
Johnson and her husband W.P. are third-generation farmers operating his family’s 800 acre-crop and beef cattle farm. Her parents Glenn and Cathy Halterman and brother Travis also farm where she grew up in Highland County, Va.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Virginia Tech and also earned an associate’s degree in emergency health services, an additional bachelor’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in nursing practice.
The Johnsons are the parents of 10-year-old Katie who enjoys softball and playing her fiddle and 8 -year-old Tater, a baseball player.
Johnson is an active member of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s grassroots outreach team, and in 2018 she received the VFBF Lady Leader recognition.
She has been recognized as the Advanced Practice Provider of the Year for Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital, received the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners Distinguished Nurse Practitioner award and The Culture of Yes award from Centra Medical Group for leadership in her organization, profession and community.
Before becoming a nurse practitioner, Johnson was a paramedic and now serves on the board of directors of the Moneta Rescue Squad. She is the squad’s medical advisor working with members to ensure quality care to the people they serve.