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High school senior speaks out about mental health

Agri-Ready Profile: Emma Harvey raises awareness around mental health support for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.

April 23, 2024

5 Min Read
A young woman and boy tend to a newborn calf
AG ADVOCATE: Emma Harvey is committed to promoting agriculture to the next generation, and it starts at home with her brother, Brooks. Along the way, she shines the light on mental health issues affecting farmers and ranchers. Courtesy of Emma Harvey

by Emma Alexander

Behind the trumpet mouthpiece at military ceremonies or funerals is Scotland County young farmer Emma Harvey, sounding taps.

Military personnel and veterans hold a special place as her father served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Harvey was born at Marine Base Camp LeJune in North Carolina, but she came “home” to northeast Missouri at a young age to grow up on the family farm. It was there she watched her dad experience the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and gained a firsthand perspective on mental health.

“I have a personal connection to the importance of farmers’ mental health,” she shares. “Farmers go through tons of stress. Since farming is a male-dominated occupation, it often gets overlooked because many people don’t recognize it or may view the stress as weakness. There has been a lack of communication in agriculture that has caused farmer suicide to be overlooked. It really hits home for me.”

So, Harvey became an advocate for farmers’ mental health, using every opportunity to raise awareness for agriculture’s most vulnerable.

Outside of her comfort zone

It is hard to tell, but Harvey was a shy freshman when she joined Missouri FFA.

“I attended FFA camp that first summer, and my FFA advisor made me participate in a speech contest,” she says. “It was the gateway to all I have accomplished.”

Harvey credits her FFA advisor, Waltedda Blessing, for “making me put my foot in the ‘public speaking door.’”

“Today, I am so outgoing it is almost embarrassing,” she shares with a laugh.

Harvey’s confidence throughout her high school career led to more opportunities to push the conversation around farmer suicide awareness.

During her reign as 2023 Missouri Beef Queen, her platform provided an additional opportunity for her to advocate for farmers’ mental health. She shared her perspective during a podcast with beef advocate Amanda Radke.

She also presented to local Lions and Rotary clubs and spoke at the banquet of the North American South Devon Association. Harvey continues to raise awareness about farmer suicide and mental health as #AgriReady Scotland County’s Miss United States Agriculture.

Missouri Farmers Care - Emma Harvey and Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe

This South Devon and Simmental beef cattle producer also has an affinity for public policy.

As a long-term goal, she wants to advocate for agriculture through politics. Currently, she is involved in local town hall meetings, watching, listening and learning about local government. Harvey also helped form her local Junior Fair Board Association and serves as its president.

Making her mark

Harvey graduates in May from Scotland County R-1, capping a successful high school career.

Here are a few highlights:

  • FFA beef-placement Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE)

  • FFA trapshooting team

  • Member of school band and marching band color guard

  • National Honor Society member


  • Basketball team

  • Student council

Harvey will attend Northwest Missouri State University in the fall to continue her study of animal science and agricultural communications. She has been completing collegiate courses online so she can graduate early, and plans to pursue a career as a livestock nutritionist focusing on beef cattle.

Harvey is a role model for her two younger brothers and sister. She is the daughter of Brandi Harvey and Brian and Ashley Harvey, and the granddaughter of Don and Linda Harvey. The Harvey families are members of Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and Missouri Farm Bureau, which are partners of Missouri Farmers Care.

Harvey took some time to talk with Missouri Ruralist:

What makes agriculture in Northeast Missouri meaningful to you? Northeast Missouri agriculture is known for the phenomenal livestock and crops we grow, as well as the families we've built. Northeast Missouri is built up of family-owned and operated farms, growing traditions and showing kids the truth about agriculture.

What is your advice to future Missouri Beef Queen candidates? Just be yourself! Talk to consumers and wear your crown with pride. Share your story and speak up about agriculture.

Can you envision yourself holding political office? In the future, I would like to become a state senator. Advocating for agriculture is my true passion, and I envision myself changing the outlook on agriculture for the better.

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time? I love to help out and spend time at the Scotland County Fair, as this is where I first was able to advocate for agriculture. I am so excited for the Scotland County Fair July 9-15!

What would your mom title a book she might write about you? “Use Your Inside Voice!” I am a very strong-minded person, so voicing my opinions is no challenge for me. Although I inherited a loud voice from my dad, she is constantly telling me to use my inside voice.

Why should students get involved in public speaking? I think students should get involved in public speaking because it is useful in everyday life. Throughout the last few years, I've talked to a lot of people. I have come to realize that a lot of kids in my generation lack the simple skill of communication. I think being able to communicate with others is vital. This is how you make connections and friendships.

Emma Harvey in brief

  • Truck: Chevy

  • Beef Breed: South Devon

  • Pet: chocolate Labrador, Beans

  • Book: “It Starts with Us,” Colleen Hoover

  • Podcast: Cattleman’s Call-NCBA

  • Mentor: My dad

Alexander writes from Olga, Mo.

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