Hi and welcome to CausePods, I’m your host, Mathew Passy. Here at CausePods, we have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it’s in their own local community or their taking on global issues.
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Going to take you to the heartland of America here to Missouri, we are chatting with Jason Meadow’s. He is the host of the AG State of Mind podcast, is focusing on and raising awareness for mental health and wellness among the agricultural and rural communities here in the United States. Jason, thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods.
I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and kind of spread the word of my mission even further.
Excellent. So I guess let’s just go right to the basics. Where did this mission come from for you? Right. Like, what’s your background and what led you to wanting to help this community in particular?
I was raised on a farm, my dad.
That’s how we grew up.
My dad, he started a farm basically from nothing back. I think he started probably in the 50s and then eventually made it up to about, oh, 3000 acres of range rangeland and cattle. And one time we had about a thousand head of cattle. Not admitting that that now, but but still significant sized business, significant size operation. So that’s where I grew up that I left I think it was 2002. I went to pharmacy school and I recognized how much rural life had impacted because I moved from the small town in Missouri to St.
Louis, which I mean St. Louis to some people, probably not a huge city, but to me, it may as well have been New York City because it was just so much different than what I knew. I understood my appreciation for rural life very soon for that. And when I was in pharmacy school, I went to pharmacy school, took me six years to graduate with my doctorate and moved back home. And the whole time I wanted to combine my medical knowledge with my love and passion for agriculture.
I’ll back up a little bit. I still had a farm. I still have my own cows. When I was in college, my dad helped me through the week while I was at school. I would come home on the weekends and breaks help him to kind of exchange work there. So, I mean, cattle put me through college and there’s no other way to say it. But so while I was in school, I wanted to have find a way to give back to that community.
And I’ve been out of school for over ten years now and was really trying to find something to combine my two worlds of of health and health care knowledge and serving the rural community. And one day something just kind of clicked and came together that why shouldn’t I start a podcast? I felt like that was the best way to reach the most amount of people with a concentrated effort on my own part. And I had no idea how to start a podcast.
I’m not involved in broadcasting whatsoever. I mean, like I said, I went to school to be a pharmacist. So, I mean, I have no training in it and I just kind of piece some stuff together. And that was oh, that was 20, 19 September. So about 15 months ago. And here we are. We’ve recorded and released about 65 episodes. And our main focus, it started out as mental health, talking about mental health in in the agriculture community and rural America in general.
And it’s kind of evolved into a more broader health thing where we’re talking more about exercise, we’re talking more about eating healthy, just an overall holistic view of health and how it applies to those who live in rural America.
So I’m so fascinated by this because it’s such a personal, intimate thing for you that you grew up on the farm. You have an experience that you were putting your life in a totally different direction, so to speak, and you were just kind of pulled back to it. And that’s the sense I get from anyone I’ve ever spoken to who has who grew up on a farm, who worked on a farm, that you’re kind of drawn to the land and drawn to the work.
So do you still have the farm today?
Yeah, I do. I we have about myself. I have about one hundred and fifty head of cattle. I live not even ten minutes from the home I grew up in on a different farm. I bought another farm of my own a few years ago for kids who are involved in the same way I was growing up. Yeah, it’s still a huge part of my life and something. I mean, we run a business with it too, is in addition to being a pharmacist we work on, we have the farm that provides income for us too.
So, I mean, not only is it something that reared me and helped me develop, it’s something I’m still actively participating and actively involved in.
So you said you started by focusing on mental health, but now it’s kind of a holistic health and whole person kind of approach. What are some of the common issues that pop up for farmers that, you know, most people might not think about or. Recognize or even understand that happens too often, this is a really great question because I don’t think a lot of people who aren’t adjacent to agriculture and rural life really understand. So when you’re dealing in agriculture, when you’re dealing as a farmer, when that is your occupation, there is so much that happens that is out of your control, whether it be whether trade, stock market prices fluctuating, going up and down, having no real certainty of where what your paycheck is going to be at the end of the year.
So much is out of your control. And that really can take a toll on someone’s well-being and not to mention an isolated lifestyle. You know, there’s Dahlby, a person will go all day sitting on a tractor. And, you know, I don’t think that sounds like necessarily a lot of hard work to someone. It’s very emotionally challenging, very it’s very difficult to just sit there in silence and just be alone with your thoughts so much. And if you aren’t careful, those thoughts can take you into a really dark place.
And I think that’s something that people are really starting to pay attention to now in rural America probably should have started way long ago. But we’re really starting to gear up and talk more about this stuff now. And I’m just one of the many who’s starting to take this on now and make it a real part of the conversation.
I’m guessing that right when you said rural Americans, they live far apart from each other. They are all focusing on their own land. Right. I don’t see a lot of four seater tractors. Right. So you’re just kind of sitting there spending all day on your own or, you know, with the family working the farmer, with the labor that you have.
I imagine also that there’s a lot of seasonal issues because not everybody can farm year-round.
Not everybody can make money around. Right. You plant your seeds, you, you know, work the land, you sell everything, and then you’re kind of waiting around. And also, I mean, the whole thing’s a waiting game, right? Like, who knows what the weather’s going to do? Who knows if your crops are going to come through rain like you make this huge investment early in the year and you hope that it all pays itself off at the end.
And so it’s a big roller coaster of emotions, the whole lot of uncertainty.
And I think when you have uncertainty, there’s so many directions that that can take. And I think our minds always go in the place where it’s going to be the worst case scenario. And, you know, that has its effects on people’s long term thinking, on their on their health, both physical and mental, and, you know, affects their relationships, affects their finances. I mean, it’s it’s just an all something that just comes at you from all different directions.
What are some ways that folks in the farming industry in rural America, agricultural space, say, like, what are some things that they could be doing? I mean, one, we would always encourage seek professional help. We do a lot of podcasts on mental health and depression and suicide. And so, like first thing is like, don’t worry about the stigma, don’t worry about the nonsense, don’t worry about the tough guy. Like, if you need help, get help first and foremost.
But what are some things that you maybe some exercises or just some things that people can do on their own if they’re starting to feel this way and want to maybe get ahead of it? Always.
My first thing is, well, obviously, like I said, if it’s serious, talk to a professional. But even if it isn’t serious, even if it’s something that’s just starts as an inkling, inkling of a negative thought, inkling of a negative way things may go for you reach out to someone who’s close to you, because that’s what I did, you know, and I didn’t really disclose this in the beginning. But I struggle with my mental health.
I struggled a really long time with anxiety and coping with that. And I went through it took a toll on my personal relationships and I sought out help. I sought out people who I felt may have felt the same way this I did. And, you know, to be able to talk out your problems, be able to just say what’s on your mind to someone who totally understands or who’s won’t judge you, who is in a safe position, that is.
Probably just saying the words to someone is probably as therapeutic as getting the help itself. I mean, just acknowledging that you have a problem or acknowledging that things are bothering you, because I think what the biggest problem is, is we push these emotions so deep inside because it’s something that has we’ve been kind of conditioned to be tough about it. And with the royal lifestyle, I mean, it is something that we have to be tough. We have to be independent.
And I mean, that’s great. But when it comes to talking about your emotions and talking about the these things that are really going to affect you, that mindset isn’t helpful always. So being able to reach out to someone, reach out to someone, I have some friends who I reached out to myself and let them know what was going on. I mean, man, that was just like such a burden lifted off of me. That’s my biggest thing, is to I mean, as far as before you seek medical help, before you seek anything, just let someone know what you’re going through, because chances are you’re going to find someone who is going through something similar.
And I mean, that’s true. Rural America and all of America, there’s always there’s you are not alone, right? We are told that we are divided and different. And yet when it comes down to it, we definitely have more in common than we do differentiates us from each other. So find help find someone. There’s always someone who can commiserate and who can help you.
So like you said, you have no experience in broadcasting, right? You have no experience in podcasting, but you decide to go for why? Why did you want to do a podcast? And what were some of those early steps you took to get into it?
So first thing is, I mean, I love podcasts. My favorite thing about podcast is they are able to fill dead time with valuable information. There’s podcast about everything.
I’ve heard that like a lot of farmers love podcast because like, you sound like the driving a tractor all day. Like it’s a great time to listen to thirty hours of information and knowledge.
I think that’s when I really got into podcasts. Listening is we bail our own hay and you know, that’s long hours and a tractor. And I mean, a lot of times I would go to work, I’d work eight hours a day, come home and work for another six or seven hours bailing hay, you know, and I would love to have something like kind of keep me company in that. And that’s where I found podcast. I never really listen to any podcast besides, like, sports podcast before.
But then when I got into I think the first podcast I really started listening to was he had my podcast and that really like changed my way of thinking about a lot of things. And then it led me to a lot of different other podcasts. And one podcast in particular, which was another agricultural podcast, was the working class podcast, which was something that a guy by the name of Clay Conry. I listen to it for probably a year. And when I had this idea to start my own podcast, I just I looked up his email from his website and emailed him what my concept was for a podcast.
And I mean, he just laid out this whole long list of stuff I needed to do and boxes and I needed to check and what Mike to use on a budget and that sort of thing. And the working class podcast is the one that changed it for me and made me understand that it was possible to to do this and made me really understand how simple it could be because I had no idea. I was terrified to do it because I thought you needed this great big recording studio and all this crazy equipment.
My initial investment on the podcast was this microphone right here, though, which cost about seventy dollars and that was it. I downloaded free software. I used an eight year old laptop that barely functioned and that’s how I got started. I’ve upgraded my laptop since then. A few other things, but it was amazing how simple it was to get started.
All right, so you get the technical side out of it. What about creating content? Like you said, you don’t have this background. So what was it like? What did you learn in those early days of starting a pod? Like, forget the technical. It’s like you turn on the mic now what?
Yeah, I mean, it was terrifying, to be honest with you. It was really terrifying. And again, it went back to these conversations I had with Clay. And, you know, we had I bet we had a month’s worth of phone calls him. And I just and he was so gracious with his time helping me out, helping me get started. And I remember a phone call, I’d call him on my way home from work because I was driving and we would just chat.
And he was like, I was my biggest question was content, like, how am I going to keep the content rolling here? Because I had no idea. I had no idea what I was going to do. He gave me this one guest, a lady by the name of Mary Jo. Erm and then I had my second guest and from there I just mined on social media, whether it be Twitter, Instagram, wherever, and just kind of.
Just slowly started compiling this list of guests and then all of a sudden I just like it just exploded and there were people who got to where they were contacting me. And now I’m like, I have interviews booked until February. Now once a week. So, I mean, it’s it’s incredible. Like, it just like that was my biggest concerns, like keeping fresh content. I mean, I have ideas that, like go way back in the back because I don’t have time for them.
So I have to ask both on a personal level. Right. Like you told us that you battled with some mental health issues as a result of this lifestyle. But also, it sounds like as a result of this podcast, certain things have changed for you. So I’m curious, what have been the consequences? Sounds like a negative term, but it’s not like what has been the the outcome of this podcast, both on a personal and even maybe on a professional level for you?
No one is my confidence. Like, I have an overabundance of confidence now in myself, in my abilities, because I remember and it was I was speaking to that that lady I mentioned, Mary Jo, erm and to her and I were just talking before we started recording a podcast and she started listing all these things that she thinks I should do, write a book, speak at conferences. I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa. I mean I haven’t done anything yet.
I have no idea what I’m talking about. I have no idea what I’m going to talk about. But the confidence came really quickly. And I see those, especially the speaking at conferences. That’s something I’ve already been doing. And I see in the very near future myself writing a book about my experience and about the my mission. And it makes me think what’s possible even after that. I mean, it’s been just over a year. You know, I have all of these all these ideas, all these things that I can see that are very much attainable.
So I think the confidence, just me recognising my ability to speak to people from all different walks of life. I mean, I am focusing on people in agriculture, but I’ve talked to several folks on the podcast who aren’t involved in agriculture, who are just involved in the mental health space and the wellness space, understanding that I have valuable insight to bounce off of these really intelligent guests. That’s been really, really great for me and then great for me to pass on to people, because I think that’s the whole point of this podcast, is I want to help people.
I mean, I don’t think that is I want to be someone who people can turn to when they have a problem. And I want to have these resources and be a resource myself to this community.
Well, speaking of resources for the community, the charity tonight that you want to highlight is the Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri, MHRA, Desh Emerg. Don’t worry, folks, you don’t have to write it down. We’ll put a link to their website in the show, notes and a CausePods.org. Tell us about what they do and why. This is the charity that you wanted to bring some attention and hopefully bring some support and donations through as well.
MHRA Erm so Mental Health America is a pretty big organisation. Well mental health adviser, Missouri, that just kind of they’re my area branch MHRA. The funniest thing about that is I got to, I think it was a Facebook message I got from and how she is with Mental Health America of eastern Missouri. And she reached out to me via Facebook message. And it turns out that she’s from my hometown. She’s from Cuba, Missouri, where we both went to school.
She’s she was a little bit older than me. She actually went to high school with my brother. And she we both had the same English teacher in high school who I credit as a big influence on what I’ve done. And we really just bonded. We really just were able to have a lot of conversations, a lot of stuff. I actually wrote a guest blog for them earlier this year, and we just really had a really great beneficial relationship.
And what they do is they are committed to breaking that stigma around mental health. And what I’ve been trying to do with them is break that stigma among men, because let’s face it, you’re a guy we don’t like to talk about this stuff. Right. It can be incredibly tough to talk about this stuff, working with them, working with MJM. I’ve been able to get my message out to other people. And across the Baystate area in Missouri, Illinois really reach some people and they’re doing a really good job.
They have a lot of great events traditionally covid just like everything has made it a little bit more difficult. But they’re shifting just like everyone else is, and doing a lot of virtual things, inviting people to events. They did a community event here, actually, in Cuba a few months. To go where they had like a sit down coffee type things, a small gathering, of course, just really spreading awareness of how important it is to openly chat about mental health.
Are you doing anything with them with a podcast like are you getting any I want to say financial support, but maybe even promotional marketing. Right. Is there any sort of. Oh, yeah.
I mean, Ann is always pushing the podcast, always helping out, always sharing our podcast on their website. It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship. I’m so thankful for and she’s been one of my biggest supporters.
You have a fantastic show. It sounds like you have really turned a personal passion, a personal journey into a incredible enterprise. So for somebody else is hearing this. They’re thinking about starting a podcast for their favorite cause. What would be your advice to them? You know, to give them the same confidence that you have today? Just start.
I mean, there is so much free information, if you look for it, whether that be my season podcast or like myself, there’s lots of people who are more experienced than I am, obviously. But I learned so much from just reaching out to others who’ve had podcast being Caloy, the guy who put us together. We had a long chat on our drive home from work one afternoon, and I still take a lot of the advice that he gave me for launching the podcast.
And just like I said, just start. It’s way simpler to do than you may expect. And, you know, it’s funny, a friend of mine who has a podcast, he tells me I have some really good audio. I mean, I’m sure there’s people who have better, but I find it hilarious because I’m in a bedroom in my home with that same 70 dollar microphone and a laptop and that’s it. And I just learned how to talk.
And I think that’s the biggest thing. And I think one of the biggest pieces of advice is when you start, you’re likely going to suck. I mean, I sucked really bad the first several episodes. I mean, I go back and I listen to him and I cringe. But at the same time, it’s also very humbling to know where I started from and how much I’ve improved. Of course, I have more to improve on, as we all do every single day.
But it’s OK to be bad at something when you start at it, because everybody was bad the first time they did something. You know, Michael Jordan sucked at basketball at one point, but obviously through work and through passion, he got better and just like everybody else can, that is some fantastic advice for everybody out there.
And to Jason’s point, yeah, that seventy eighty dollars or twenty one hundred microphone. It is one of the ones that I’ve recommended to so many people who are just getting started. It is small, compact, durable, portable, easy to use and you know, compared to using nothing or compared to using a built in mic on your laptop or something like that, it’s going to make a world of difference in so many big podcasters. Right. You don’t have to sound like NPR to be successful.
You just have to sound like you’re taking it seriously. And that small investment will do more than enough of letting people know that you’re taking it seriously. But more importantly, we want to make sure that you check out ag state of mind. You can learn more about the podcast that ag state of mind, dot com links to the show, links to it on Apple, Google, Spotify here in the show notes and at CausePods.org, as well as a link to mh a e m.
That’s North America of eastern Missouri, a link where you can support and donate to their efforts to help out everybody in eastern Missouri in that region with, you know, overcoming the stigma of mental health. And again, if you’re hearing this, if you even have a scintilla of thought that you’re struggling, go get help. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Jason Mattos, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods today.
Yeah, man, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. I always appreciate the opportunity to share. If it even gets to one person, it’s worth it.
Thanks for listening to this episode of CausePods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at CausePods.org. There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast, links on Apple, Google, Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here on this episode. You will also find a CausePods.org Barletta subscribe to this show on your favourite podcasting app, How to Sign Up to be a guest on this show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause.
And I can tell you right now, we’ve got one great deal from our friends, a pod page. But you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for CausePods. And before I go, I should say thank you in particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Kilroy of the military veteran Dad’s. Podcast and what a great job has done, and all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rojas here at the podcast, consulted Dotcom once again.
If you want to learn more, go to CausePods.org. Thank you so much. And we will see you next time on CausePods.