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Health screenings include blood pressure check and skin cancer screenings.

Curt Arens

August 30, 2021

2 Min Read
Nursing students  take the blood pressure of a visitor
CHECK IT OUT: Nursing students from UNMC College of Nursing take the blood pressure of a visitor to the Hospitality Tent at Husker Harvest Days. Mindy Ward

Health screenings may not be on the radar as an important use of time for farmers and ranchers, but nothing could be further from the truth. For many years, health screenings have been a crucial component — along with exhibits on rural safety, and health and wellness — in the Hospitality Tent at Husker Harvest Days, Sept. 14-16 at Grand Island, Neb.

These health exhibits and booths, along with blood pressure and skin cancer screenings, are often buzzing with activity as producers and visitors file through the area. Around 80 to 90 nursing students from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, from Kearney and Lincoln, play a key role in the health screenings, which provide learning opportunities for the UNMC students and wellness checks for HHD visitors.

The students provide blood pressure checks and help with the promotion of farm safety materials, according to Kami Loeffelholz, UNMC College of Nursing instructor at Kearney.

Also, a nurse practitioner will be on-site to assist with skin cancer screenings. The students helping with these screenings go through simulations to prepare for working in outdoor settings.

Typically, 1,000 to 1,200 people are screened for blood pressure and 600 receive skin screenings each year at HHD. One visitor who received these screenings in the past returned to tell instructors that a skin screening spurred a follow-up with a dermatologist, who in turn treated the person for Stage 4 skin cancer.

Others have taken their blood pressure numbers from HHD to their practitioner and, after further assessment, started treatment for dangerously high blood pressure.

There is no statistical information to back up these anecdotes, but there is no question that the health information and screenings at Husker Harvest Days bring health and wellness to the forefront for farmers and their families, and may alert these visitors to impending health concerns.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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