As more people of color choose farming and agricultural careers, Cooperative Extension and other agricultural service organizations must expand their ability to serve culturally diverse groups. Pennsylvania saw a 16% increase in Hispanic and Latinx farmers and farmworkers, inspiring Elsa Sanchez of Pennsylvania State University to conduct a Northeast SARE Professional Development Grant project aimed at increasing understanding of the challenges and concerns these farmers face and developing strategies to better engage this community in Extension agricultural programs.
Twenty-five Extension agricultural educators participated in a series of three professional development trainings taught by a social psychologist, a specialist in Hispanic and Latinx community studies, and a panel of service providers that work closely with the Hispanic and Latinx communities.
Participants also visited farms, met one-on-one with Hispanic and Latinx farmers and farmworkers, and surveyed participants of the Spanish session of a regional fruit and vegetable conference to better understand farmer needs and learn ways to make them feel more welcome at Extension programs.
As a result of the project, 25 educators learned new information to better serve Hispanic and Latinx clientele and 12 educators were able to connect with 65 farmers and farmworkers during the project period.
Guidance on strategies to effectively connect with Hispanic farmers was published in a journal article, expanding the reach of project lessons learned to educators and agricultural service providers across the U.S.
Sanchez described the reach of her project, “The Hispanic/Latinx community is playing a larger role in U.S. agriculture but we often do not see this community at educational events for farmers. Through our project, 25 agricultural educators learned how to create welcoming educational events for this community. By the end of the project new relationships were formed between agricultural educators and Hispanic/Latinx farmers and farmworkers. At one event Hispanic/Latinx farmworkers were asked how having educational events developed for them made them feel. Their responses can be summarized by this comment, “It makes me feel good that [organizers] care about the Hispanic community.”
Want more information? See the related SARE grant: