Pilot Grant Program

We are no longer accepting pilot grant applications at this time.  Proposals were due July 1, 2021.

The Center funds pilot projects (up to $30,000 per project) intended to promote innovative outreach and research efforts to prevent agricultural injury and illness. The pilot program supports both community-based organizations and academic researchers, especially new investigators and trainees.

Proposals addressing mental health, chemical safety, machine safety, and prevention of slips, trips, and falls are especially encouraged. However, any topic of relevance to the GPCAH mission and/or NIOSH priority goals for the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing industry sector is welcome.

Community outreach/education pilot grants

Potential grantees are typically staff members of community-based entities who will develop and deliver evidence-based agricultural health outreach programs. Projects will be reviewed for feasibility, impact, and ability to test innovative outreach/education methods. Learn more about the project and how to apply here.

Academic/scholarly research pilot grants

Potential recipients include students, staff, and faculty of academic institutions who are creating new agricultural safety and health knowledge and/or assessing and promoting best safety and health practices. Basic and applied research projects will be reviewed for scientific merit. Learn more about the project and how to apply here.

Previously funded GPCAH pilot grant projects

Find more information about previously-funded community and academic pilot grants here.

Pilot Grant Webinar and PDF

Full webinar is available here.

Click on the photo to access some useful pilot grant writing tips






Congratulations pilot grant award recipients


Three out of 11 applicants were funded for 2020-2121 pilot projects. Two of the proposals were academic and one was community-based.

Examining the role of agricultural cooperatives in protecting farmers’ mental health (Y Liang, Occupational and Environment Health, University of Iowa)

Stress, depression, and suicide have been reported among farmers. Cooperatives provide farmer-members market stability, technical support, and support networks but the effects of these programs on mental health are not well understood. Non-cooperative farmers may use similar programs from farmer support organizations, agricultural extension offices, and agribusiness. This project will examine associations between variables describing cooperative membership, social support, and programs accessed and outcome variables capturing levels of stress and depression.

Respiratory protection training following COVID-19: Developing and testing interactive educational resources in the ag health and safety classroom (C Sheridan, Ag Health and Safety Alliance)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NIOSH and the NIOSH Ag Centers generated evidence-based guidance for agricultural workers on how to deal with potential PPE shortages and plan for similar events. The overall goal of this proposal is to develop three new evidence-based interactive infographic resources about respirator use in agriculture, strategies to address current or future PPE shortages, and proper use/prolonged storage of N95 respirators. These resources will be piloted among agricultural students, health care professionals, and safety managers. Evaluation results will be used to revise the resources for broader, national use. After engaging with these resources, participants will be more prepared to address respiratory health challenges and PPE shortages in similar future crisis or public health emergencies.

Preventing workplace injury in pig production systems: applying behavior change interventions for safe animal handling (J Rudolphi, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)


Train-the-trainer program to promote safe respirator use for farmers and pesticide applicators(Hoidal, Minnesota State Extension, Minneapolis, MN). Due to shifting trends in pesticide use, pesticide applicators are increasingly required to use respirators. There is a significant lack of knowledge around respirator selection and use, as well as a lack of educational resources and infrastructure across Minnesota to support fit testing, which is a
necessary component of respirator selection. This project will develop and deliver a series of train-the-trainer respirator safety and fit testing workshops across Minnesota. Additionally, the project team will develop a portfolio of outreach materials to be used by rural healthcare professionals, extension educators, agricultural coop health and safety managers, and other state-based pesticide safety education programs. (Determined by UMN IRB to not be human
subjects research.) Progress consistent with the proposed timeline was reported in a mid-project report. Six respirator fit test workshops were completed with a total of 36 participants. An online respirator fit “toolkit” was developed and disseminated electronically. Methods developed by the investigators were presented in July at the 2019 North Central region Pesticide Applicator Certification and Training Meeting in Duluth, MN.

Growing resiliency in tough times (GRITT): A text-messaging mental health intervention for farmers (Holmstrom, Michigan State University / Michigan State Extension, East Lansing, MI). The purpose of the proposed project is to develop a text messaging-based mental health intervention to educate agricultural workers about (1) farm-related stress and (2) coping strategies and available resources to manage that stress. The intervention will be tested among 325 agricultural workers in Michigan to assess feasibility, usability, and acceptability. Workers will also be surveyed on farm stress and coping strategies, the use of adaptive coping strategies, and perceived social support. Reductions in perceived stigma surrounding mental health, farm stress, and the use of maladaptive coping strategies will also be examined. Progress on this project was delayed by difficulties with internet-based recruitment. Ongoing consultation with the PI has resulted in development of a new recruitment strategy anticipated to be free of prior difficulties.

Airing out farm stress (Moynihan, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, St. Paul, MN). This project aims to address the silence around the ways that stresses inherent in farming can affect the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of agricultural workers and farm family members. The team will use radio programming on the Red Rivers Farm Network to air five 60-second programs that will each reach a listening audience of more than 100,000 NorthDakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota farmers. The team will enhance the reach of this effort by (1) creating deeper, complimentary 10- to 15-minute podcasts for each topic and (2) harnessing the power of social media brought by project partners. Evaluation will include tracking audience interactions via social media, podcast downloads, and requests for access to stories and materials. During implementation of this pilot grant project, GPCAH funds paid for the production of 5 radio spots and podcasts which have been accessed by more than 25,500 people. Since then, the project has leveraged GPCAH funds and attracted outside funding to complete ten additional radio spots. The investigators continue to support the original pilot project aims by promoting additional podcasts via electronic networks and on social media. Long-term follow-up of project impact is in progress.

Opioid crisis response in farm communities: overdose prevention and training for farmers and agricultural workers (Ziegenhorn/Novak, Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition [IHRC], University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA). This project aims to conduct and evaluate opioid prevention training and outreach with two important agricultural populations in Eastern Iowa, specifically agricultural employees and migrant farmworkers. The team will conduct six community “train-the-trainer” sessions with over 120 farmers and agricultural employees and will partner with the Proteus Migrant Health Program to conduct six migrant health outreach sessions to connect with 50 migrant farmworkers. The team uses a community-engaged, peer-to-peer approach to adapt an established opioid overdose prevention training for agricultural populations. As of its last reporting (August 2019), the IHRC had conducted naloxone trainings in 14 rural communities, ranging from one-to-one trainings to formal “town hall” type events. In total, the IHRC has trained 58 eligible agricultural workers (or family members of an agricultural worker) on overdose prevention and has distributed 841 naloxone kits. IHRC volunteers have produced naloxone training and education materials in Spanish and have conducted three outreach sessions with Proteus (a migrant healthcare delivery organization): (October 10, 2018: Williamsburg, Iowa (East Camp); April 4, 2019: Postville, IA; May 1, 2019: Williamsburg, Iowa (West Camp)). Pilot project investigators are now tracking reports of overdose reversals attributable to project training and naloxone distribution for use in formal project evaluation. Presentations describing the project and its accomplishments were disseminated on Iowa Public Radio (November 2018) and at the April 2019 Iowa Governor’s Conference on Public Health. (Note: Funding for this fourth project came from the GPCAH Emerging Issues funds.)

Key papers, presentations, and products from recently funded GPCAH pilot grants

The impact of drought conditions on occupational psychosocial stress (J Berman, Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota, Oct 2019 to March 2021) This ongoing academic project merges longitudinal data regarding occupational psychosocial stress collected in a previous GPCAH core research project (n=518 regional farm owner/operators) with spatial and temporal estimates of drought conditions. Based on the mid-year report, results from this academic project were incorporated into an oral presentation at the 2020 meeting of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. In addition, the PI reports one manuscript in preparation for submission to Current Environmental Health Reports and a second in preparation for submission to American Journal of Epidemiology.

Stress on the farm: strategies to help each other (D Brown, Iowa State Extension and Outreach, Oct 2019 to March 2021) This community outreach project offered a culturally relevant suicide prevention “gatekeeper” training to the agricultural community in Iowa. The project provided 95 suicide prevention trainings in 87 Iowa communities, in conjunction with ISU Extension & Outreach and Farm Service Agency sponsored Farm Bill meetings. These meetings trained approximately 4,376 agriculture producers and landowners in an intervention strategy to identify persons at risk of suicide and refer them to treatment or support services as needed. Risk and protective factors of suicide were also addressed.

Airing out farm stress (M Moynihan, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Oct 2018 to March 2020) This community outreach project tackled the silence around how stresses inherent in farming can affect the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of farmers and farm family members. Five pilot radio stories funded by GPCAH (60-second spots each with a 12 to15-minute companion podcast) grew into a series of 25 episodes underwritten by additional community and foundation support. The PI estimated that by mid-March 2020, the series had reached well over 100,000 radio listeners on 19 stations in three states. The podcasts had more than 64,500 “listens.”


Jesse D. Berman, Marizen R. Ramirez, Jesse E. Bell, Rocky Bilotta, Fredric Gerr, Nathan B. Fethke: [2021] The association between drought conditions and increased occupational psychosocial stress among U.S. farmers: An occupational cohort study. Science of The Total Environment. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149245. (2020 Pilot Grant)

Massey N, Shrestha D, Bhat SM, Kondru N, Charli A, Karriker LA, Kanthasamy AG, Charavaryamath C: [2020] Organic dust induced mitochondrial dysfunction could be targeted via cGAS-STING or mitochondrial NOX-2 inhibition. bioRxiv 2020.07.01.182535; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.01.182535 (2017 Pilot Grant)

Shrestha D, Bhat SM, Massey N, Maldonado CS, Rumbeiha WK, Charavaryamath C: [2021] Pre-exposure to hydrogen sulfide modulates the innate inflammatory response to organic dust. Cell Tissue Res. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-020-03333-3 PMID: 33409657 (2017 Pilot Grant)


Brown DN: [2020]. Responding to the behavioral and mental health needs of Iowa agribusiness. North Central Cooperative Extension Association Speed Meeting on Mental and Behavioral Health. Virtual. (2019 Pilot Grant)

Brown DN: [2020] Responding to behavioral health needs among rural Iowans and farming communities. Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Winter Meeting. Cedar Falls, IA, Storm Lake, IA. (2019 Pilot Grant)

Brown DN: [2019] Stress on the farm: Strategies to help each other. Iowa Farmers Union 2019 State Convention: Farming in a Climate of Change. Given to farmers at: Grinnell, IA, Des Moines IA, Cedar Falls, IA, Storm Lake IA. (2019 Pilot Grant)

Brown DN, Dunnegan D, Day D: [2020] Suicide prevention and the agricultural community. Midwest Rural Agricultural Safety and Health (MRASH) Conference. November 17-20, 2020. (2019 Pilot Grant)

Brown DN, Santiago AD: [2019] Responding to behavioral and mental needs among rural Iowans and farming communities. National Association for Rural Mental Health Annual Conference. Santa Fe, New Mexico.  (2019 Pilot Grant)

Hoidal N: [2019]. Breathing Room: Building Capacity for Respirator Fit Testing Panel Discussion Panel Member. North Central Region Pesticide Applicator Certification and Training Workshop (PACT). July 22-24, 2019. Duluth, MN. (2018 Pilot Grant)

Moynihan M: [2019] Panelist for webinar titled The farmer mental health crisis: Understanding a vulnerable population. American Psychological Association. August 26, 2019. At The farmer mental health crisis: Understanding a vulnerable population (apa.org) (2018 Pilot Grant)

Moynihan M: [2020] Trying Times: Tools to Understand and Alleviate Farm Stress. 2020 SARE Farmers Forum at Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Conference. January 21-23, 2020. At https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PInZdhmbfr4&list=PLQLK9r1ZBhhFE9SoxG1v-zKTLIfrezEpO&index=9 (2018 Pilot Grant)


The website for IHRC Overdose Education & Naloxone Distribution information is at https://www.iowaharmreductioncoalition.org/overdose-education-naloxone-distribution/#

The website for IHRC Health & Social Services information is at https://www.iowaharmreductioncoalition.org/services/

The website for University of Minnesota Extension for Commercial, noncommercial pesticide applicators is at https://extension.umn.edu/pesticide-safety-and-certification/commercial-noncommercial-pesticide-applicators#respirator-resources-1089714

Other Products

IowaHRC: [2018] Promotion of overdose protection and naloxone access. Instagram post. November 13, 2018. At https://www.instagram.com/p/BqIiwmIhwUk/

Hoidal N: [2019] Promotion of fit-testing workshops titled SPOTLIGHT: Building capacity for respiratory health. Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH). At Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center – SPOTLIGHT: Building capacity for respiratory health (umn.edu)

IowaHRC: [2019] Promotion of naloxone and training to reverse overdoses. Instagram Post. February 18, 2019.  At https://www.instagram.com/p/BuG_pp2BkSP/

IowaHRC: [2019] Promotion of safety checks for opioid users. Instagram post. April 25, 2019. At https://www.instagram.com/p/BwsHJJUhx6u/

Crann T, Burks M: [2019] Interview with M Moynihan titled Podcast tackles ‘how to not let the farm wreck your marriage’ and other farm stresses. MPRnews. May 6, 2019. At https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/05/06/atc-podcast-tackles-how-to-not-let-the-farm-wreck-your-marriage-and-other-farm-stresses

Blanchard SK: [2019] Story titled Why Drug Dealers Are an Under-Utilized Anti-Overdose Resource. Filter. May 28, 2019. At https://filtermag.org/why-drug-dealers-are-an-under-utilized-anti-overdose-resource/

Yager A: [2019] Story titled ‘Complicated issue:’ Local officials, advocates discuss impacts of needle exchanges. Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, IA. June 30, 2019. At https://www.telegraphherald.com/news/tri-state/article_cdf52e49-7636-5bf7-9b3f-9ad7f04645ac.html

Brooks J: [2019] News article on TransFARMation podcast titled In hard times, farmers try to help each other through. StarTribune, Minneapolis, MN. August 10, 2019. At https://www.startribune.com/in-hard-times-farmers-try-to-help-each-other-through/533196972/

O’Leary J: [2019] Story titled Home Field Advantage: Matt Kroul Exemplifies the ANF Spirit. Iowa Magazine. September 2019. At https://magazine.foriowa.org/story.php?ed=true&storyid=1863

Staff Writer: [2019] Story titled Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition works to prevent overdose deaths. Iowa Cattleman. September 2019. At https://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/staff-editorial/iowa-sees-success-in-overdose-reversals-but-theres-much-more-work-to-do-20200213

Henderson OK: [2019] Story titled Two statewide officials trained to respond to opioid overdoses. Radio Iowa. December 2, 2019. At https://www.radioiowa.com/2019/12/02/two-statewide-officials-trained-to-respond-to-opioid-overdoses/

Boshart R: [2019] Story titled Naloxone training at Iowa Capitol. Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, IA. December 2, 2019. At https://siouxcityjournal.com/naloxone-training-at-iowa-capitol/image_ee066d01-37e7-5493-bdb5-55e47186199b.html

Mercodo M: [2019] Story titled Iowa Organization Offers Free Access to Naloxone. WHO-13, Des Moines, IA. December 2, 2019. At https://whotv.com/news/iowa-organization-offers-free-access-to-opioid-overdose-reversing-drug/

Mercado M: [2019] Story titled Iowa Organization Offers Free Access to Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug. KDSM-TV, Des Moines, IA. December 3, 2019. At https://kdsm17.com/news/local/iowa-organization-offers-free-access-to-opioid-overdose-reversal-drug

Joens P: [2019] Story titled With opioids taking scores of Iowa lives each year, state officials learn how to administer naloxone. The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA. December 6, 2019. At https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2019/12/02/narcan-naloxone-iowa-opioid-crisis-overdoses-responses/2588043001/

Staff Writer: [2019] Story titled New state program mails free opioid overdose-reversal kits to Iowans. The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, IA. December 27, 2019. At https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/health/new-state-program-mails-free-opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-kits-to-iowans-20191227

Staff Writer: [2020] Editorial titled Iowa sees success in overdose reversals, but there’s much more work to do. The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, IA. February 13, 2020. At https://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/staff-editorial/iowa-sees-success-in-overdose-reversals-but-theres-much-more-work-to-do-20200213

Moynihan M: [2020] Delivered testimony at Minnesota House Ways & Means Committee, Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division hearing, February 20, 2020.

IowaHRC: [2020] Promotion for requesting supplies from IHRC via the mail. Instagram Post. March 23, 2020. At  https://www.instagram.com/p/B-GA7PbnVCV/

TransFARMation podcast: There is Life after Farming. Apr 19, 2019, https://www.rrfn.com/podcast/2019/04/19/transfarmation-life-beyond-the-farm/

TransFARMation podcast: The Ostrich Syndrome. May 20, 2019 https://www.rrfn.com/podcast/2019/05/20/transfarmation-the-ostrich-syndrome/

TransFARMation podcast: How Not to Let the Farm Wreck Your Marriage. Apr 3, 2019 https://www.rrfn.com/podcast/2019/04/03/transfarmation/

TransFARMation podcast: Shifting the Conversation about Mental Health. Jun 17, 2019. https://www.rrfn.com/podcast/2019/06/17/transfarmation-shifting-the-conversationabout-mental-health/

Holmstrom, A. Addressing Stress with Text. Mental Health Roundtable Flashtalk.International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health Conference (ISASH); Des Moines, IA, June 24-27, 2019.

Meyer K. 2019 Agritourism destination safety and health best practices workshops. International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health Conference (ISASH); Des Moines, IA, Jun 24-27, 2019.

TransFARMation podcast: A Survivor’s Journey. May 6, 2019 https://www.rrfn.com/podcast/2019/05/06/a-survivors-journey/

TransFARMation podcast: It’s OK to Not Be OK. Jun 3, 2019 https://www.rrfn.com/podcast/2019/06/03/transfarmation-its-ok-to-not-be-ok/