Professional Development Project: Working with Latino Agricultural Communities

Final Report for ENC04-082

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $66,586.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Stu Jacobson
University of Illinois at Springfield
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

Latinos are the fastest growing group of farmers in the North Central Region and yet they and other rural Hispanics remain a substantially underserved audience. In order to increase the cultural competency of agricultural and other educators from Extension and the USDA to provide educational programs for Latinos, the project held six half-day workshops for 112 participants and three 1.5 day trainings for 49 participants during 2005-2006 in Illinois, Michigan and Missouri.

Evaluations showed that participants increased their understanding of strategies to reach Latino audiences and of the importance of culture and value systems in designing effective programs for Hispanics. During the 1.5 day trainings, educators also modified existing plans of work for Latino audiences. They also visited Latino-owned farms and businesses in Michigan, farms in Missouri and a Puerto Rican community center and urban horticulture program in Chicago, Illinois.
In order to further evaluate the impacts of the 1.5 day training, follow-up surveys designed to collect information on additional impacts and contributions of the project were sent to participants.

Those queried were asked to list educational programs for Latinos that they had implemented at least in part due to their participation in the SARE training. In Illinois data from the initial questionnaire, telephone interviews and an additional questionnaire were collected from 12 of the 16 participants from the 1.5 day training. Respondents had implemented Latino 4-H youth camps and clubs, programs focused on developing small business skills and Family Nutrition Program series for Hispanic audiences. A community based group, Latinos en Acción was initiated that coordinates activities with a neighboring county’s Latino organization in order to obtain grant monies. In another county, the Extension office applied and obtained an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer to assist in development of a Latino community center. A participant in both the half and 1.5 day trainings led the development of statewide educational materials; other participants have developed materials on nutrition and obesity prevention.

Presentations about the SARE project were made a SARE August 2006 conference in Oconomowoc, WI; at a National Diversity Conference in 2006; and at the 2007 Cambio de Colores Conference in Kansas City, MO.

The Project has continued to have impacts almost a year and a half after the last SARE-funded training in May 2006. fro example, an Extension “Latino Interest Group” was formed in Illinois to exchange information and ideas and to provide mutual support for those committed to providing programs for Latinos. The group met initially in December, 2006, and subsequently held two TeleNet conferences. The second led to Professional Development Opportunity training in downstate Illinois in September, 2007. There were 17 Extension educators and administrators in attendance. The Latino Interest Group plans a third TeleNet session training for May, 2008.

Project Objectives:

The project identified a number of short-term outcomes. These are listed below with information relevant to each outcome. The data are based on surveys filled out following each training re changes in knowledge, awareness or skills. Participants were asked to assess their knowledge, etc both pre- and post training, by indicating their degree of agreement with different statements, such as “I have a working knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges.”

The survey results showed that participants felt that as a result of the training they had increased their knowledge, awareness or skills considerably, which should increase their capacities to work with Latino audiences. For all topics addressed in the surveys, between 70-90% of the participants disagreed-somewhat agreed that they already had specific, relevant knowledge, awareness or skills prior to the workshop; between 70-90% somewhat agreed-agreed that they had (gained) the knowledge, etc following the training. These half-day workshops are only a beginning and by themselves will have limited impact on relevant, effective programming by Extension and other agencies. For this reason, one and a half-day Institutes were planned for 2006, with the idea that they will serve as follow-up training for the 2005 workshop participants. Outcome: Greater awareness of characteristics and needs of Latino farmers, families and communities.

There were three statements relevant to this outcome. In response to the statement “I have a basic awareness of characteristics and needs of members of Latino communities,” regarding pre-workshop knowledge 83% of participants disagreed to somewhat agreed, while 85% somewhat agreed to agreed regarding post-workshop awareness. In other words, the vast majority of participants indicated that they had relatively little awareness prior to the workshop and about the same percent indicated that they increased their awareness after the workshop. In response to the statement “I have a basic understanding of the culture and values of members of Latino families and communities,” 72% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed with this statement with respect to before the workshop, whereas 87% somewhat agreed–agreed with respect to after the workshop. Regarding the statement, “I have a basic understanding of Latino/Hispanic culture and contributions to society,” 77% disagreed or somewhat agreed with this statement with respect to their understanding prior to the workshops; whereas 83% somewhat agreed or agreed with respect to their post-workshop understanding.
Outcome: Increased knowledge of non-traditional methods to reach Latino audiences.

In response to the statement “I have a basic understanding of effective methods to provide information to Latino audiences,” 80% disagreed-somewhat agreed that they had the knowledge prior to the training; whereas 80% somewhat agreed-agreed that they did after the workshops.

Outcome: Increased knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges.

In response to the statement “I have a working knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges,” 87% disagreed-somewhat agreed that they did prior to the training; whereas 92% somewhat agreed-agreed that they did after the workshops. Regarding the statement “I am confident that I have the knowledge needed to increase involvement of Latinos in my programs,” 82% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed that they had the knowledge needed prior to training; while 77% somewhat agreed to agreed that they were confident in their knowledge following training.

Outcome: Improving skills to assist members of Latino agricultural communities to identify their needs and access information relevant to sustainable farming via programs offered by Extension, NRCS and other agencies.

In response to the statement “I am confident that I can design and develop appropriate programs for Latino audiences,” 87% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed that they had the skills needed prior to training; whereas 77% somewhat agreed to agreed that they had the skills after training. Lastly, 88% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed with the statement “I am confident that I can develop plans of work that will involve greater numbers of Latinos,” with respect to before the workshop; whereas 86% somewhat agreed to agreed with respect to after the workshop. It is probably relevant that one of the workshop activities was to begin modifying plans of work while working in small groups.

Short-Term Outcomes:
1. greater awareness of characteristics and needs of Latino farmers, families and communities,
2. increased knowledge of non-traditional methods to reach Latino audiences,
3. improved knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges,
4. improved skills to assist members of Latino farmers/communities to identify their needs and access information relevant to sustainable farming via programs offered by Extension, NRCS and other agencies,
5. participants make transformational changes in attitudes towards Latinos.

Intermediate Outcomes/Educator Behavior and Practices:
1. greater number of sustainable agricultural and other educational programs for rural Latinos,
2. agricultural and other educators seek additional resources regarding Latino culture and communities,
3. increased number of extension statewide plans of work for educational programs for Latino farmers in sustainable agriculture.

Long-Term Outcomes/Systemic Changes:
1. agriculture and other educators include Latinos in regular programming in sustainable agriculture and other topics,
2. increased participation of Latino farmers, youth and families in programs offered by Extension, NRCS, etc.,
3. extension councils integrate Latino representatives into program planning process.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Juan Marinez

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

During 2005-2006 the project held two half-day workshops each in Illinois and Missouri, and one in Michigan, for a total of 87 participants and a 1.5 day training in each state for a total of 49 participants. Presenters and organizers of the workshops included Jose Garcia of the University of Missouri (now at Washington State University), Stu Jacobson, and Juan Marinez.

PowerPoint presentations were made on topics including increasing participation by Latinos and other non-traditional audiences, as well as Latino farmers in Michigan and Missouri During the workshops there was a priority on active participation by those in attendance, including ample time for questions and discussion, as well each participant making a brief presentation and critique of an educational program or activity she or he had already presented or was planned for Latino audiences. In addition, there were several “exercises” that involved small group work or role playing. At the conclusion of each workshop, participants filled out “pre-post evaluations,” which asked them to compare their attitudes, understanding or knowledge of specific workshop topics before and after participation in the training.

The 1.5 day trainings included a morning “review session” for participants who had not attended any of the half-day workshops. Following lunch, there were visits to Latino-owned farms and businesses in Michigan and Missouri, and to a Puerto Rican community center and urban horticulture organization in Chicago, Illinois. Participants gathered for debriefings of the farm visits and dinner at area Mexican restaurants; in the Missouri training, there was also a presentation by the director of the Alianzas Program at the U. of Missouri, Kansas City. During the second day of each training, state program specialists in each state provided information on Extension planning and evaluation processes. Participants also worked in small groups to modify existing plans of work to better suit Latino audiences; this was facilitated by additional staff from each state’s Extension organization. The modifications were then presented to the larger group at each site. In Michigan, where there were several USDA staff participating, an attempt was made to incorporate their agencies’ planning processes into this activity.

In addition to the half-day and 1.5 day trainings described above, an hour and a half workshop was held at the 2005 Michigan State University Extension Conference for 19 educators. Participants at all the trainings received information packets with materials on Latino demographics and culture, as well as copies of the Power Point presentations.

In order to assess the impacts of the 1.5 day training, follow-up questionnaires designed to collect information on additional impacts and contributions of the project were sent to participants in Illinois and Michigan. Those queried were asked to list educational programs for Latinos that they had implemented at least in part due to their participation in the SARE training. While not originally planned as part of the project, the formation of an Extension “Latino Interest Group” in Illinois and two additional trainings it offered in 2006 and 2007 provided additional evaluative information regarding the project’s impacts.

Hours spent in “classroom” vs. field trip in the 1.5 day trainings:

Day 1

10-12:00 Introductory session

12:30-5:30 Visit to farms, etc

5:30-7:00 Debriefing and speaker

Day 2

9-12:00 Modifying plans of work, group presentations, etc

12-1:00 Lunch and evaluation

Outreach and Publications

Presentations describing this project were made at the following multistate meetings: the SARE-sponsored August 2006 conference in Oconomowoc, WI, by Juan Marinez; at a National Diversity Conference in 2006, by Jose Garcia; and at the 2007 Cambio de Colores Conference in Kansas City, MO, by Stu Jacobson.

Outcomes and impacts:

The information provided above under Objectives/Performance Targets above showed measurable, short-term impacts due to the half-day trainings. One factor that increases the chances for long-term, positive changes is that 10-15% of both the workshop and 1.5 day training participants have Extension administrative positions, primarily at the county director level. In addition, a number of county directors were accompanied by educators from their offices. For example, in Illinois four county directors attended the 1.5 day training in May 2006; three were accompanied by a total of six agricultural and other program area educators from their offices. These were from the greater Chicago area, where the regional director had been emphasizing the need to provide programs for Hispanic audiences, thus serving as an impetus for staff to attend the SARE training. In a telephone interview with one of the county directors who attended, she stressed that her knowledge of Hispanic culture and opportunities available for programming for Latinos increased a great deal as a result of the training. She currently provides leadership both within her county and statewide in Extension regarding educational programs for Latinos.

In order to further evaluate the longer term results of the 1.5 day trainings, follow-up surveys designed to collect information on additional impacts and contributions of the project were sent to participants. In Illinois, there were six responses from 16 questionnaires; in addition, telephone interviews were conducted and an additional questionnaire distributed to educators at September 2007 Extension training for a total of 12 responses. Those queried were asked to list educational programs for Latinos that they had implemented at least in part due to their participation in the SARE training. Example answers include: 4-H youth camps and ongoing programs focused on developing small business skills among Latinos in Will County; Family Nutrition Program series for Hispanic audiences, After School Programs with promotional materials translated into Spanish and a 4-H club whose membership is 90% Latino children, as well several Extension monthly newsletters prepared for Latino audiences in McLean County. In Macon County Latinos en Acción was established as a place where Latino families can work on projects with the Extension office as an initial meeting site; they are now coordinating activities with an established Latino organization in a neighboring county and are seeking grant monies, for example for English classes. The Family Life educator in that county took leadership in developing statewide materials such as the DVD Abriendo Caminos (opening paths), with a second DVD underway on obesity prevention and nutrition. In DeKalb County, the Extension office applied and obtained an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer to assist in development of a Latino community center; a number of health-oriented programs were also held. Interestingly, in Kankakee County, lessons from the SARE training regarding non-traditional Extension audiences have been applied successfully to projects with African-American farmers and rural residents.

It’s important to recognize that the half-day or 1.5 day trainings, farm tours, etc are only a beginning and by themselves will have limited impacts on programming for Latino audiences by Extension and other agencies. Each of the three participating states is quite different. In Michigan, there is a comparatively large number of Latino Extension and USDA educators in agriculture and other program areas. A number attended both the half-day and 1.5 day trainings and several indicated that they learned a lot from visits to farms and businesses about the culture of those whose heritage is primarily Mexican, in some cases differing from their own. Michigan also had a stronger representation of agricultural educators than the other two states. In comparison, Missouri has few Hispanics in Extension. In addition, the statewide SARE Coordinator, a Latino who had been working with Hispanic farmers, recently left for a faculty position in another state. Both states, but especially Michigan, have far larger numbers of Latino-owned farms than does Illinois. In that state, almost all the Spanish speaking Extension educators are in Chicago; and until relatively recently, that is where almost all educational programs for Latinos happened.
In Illinois one of the impacts attributable at least in part to the SARE-funded project is the increased interest in programs for Latinos and in further cultural competency training for Extension staff outside the Chicago area. Five of the nine counties represented in the May 2006 training subsequently had at least one own professional development program for their staff. In addition, an Extension “Latino Interest Group” was formed to exchange information and ideas and to provide mutual support for those committed to providing programs for Latinos. Fourteen Extension staff met initially in December 2006 for a panel discussion by four Hispanic business persons. Subsequently the group held two TeleNet conferences. The second led to planning for Professional Development Opportunity training in downstate Illinois in September, 2007. The 6-hour workshop was initiated by the Latino Interest Group and coordinated by German Cutz, the State Specialist in Spanish Language Programming. There were 17 Extension educators and administrators in attendance; five of whom had been participants in the 2006 training. The Latino Interest Group plans a third TeleNet session for May, 2008. Thus the 2006 SARE training has continued to have an impact almost 1.5 years later. According to the Interest Group’s leader, neither the September, 2007 training nor the planned 2008 TeleNet workshop would have occurred with out the SARE-funded project.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

As stated under Objectives/Performance Targets, a number of short-term outcomes were identified for the project. These are listed below with evaluative information relevant to each outcome. The data are based on surveys filled out following each half-day workshop re changes in knowledge, awareness or skills. The results are based on a sample of 61 participants at four workshops. Participants were asked to assess their knowledge, etc both pre- and post training, by indicating their degree of agreement (strongly disagree – disagree – somewhat agree – agree – strongly agree) with a series of statements; for example, “I have a working knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges.” In general the surveys indicated that the participants felt they had increased their knowledge, awareness or skills and capacities to work with Latino audiences considerably as a result of the workshops. Depending on the topic, there was a shift of the vast majority of participants from the categories disagree-somewhat agree to somewhat agree-agree. For all topics addressed in the surveys, across the different workshops, between 70 to 90% of the participants disagreed to somewhat agreed that they already had specific, relevant knowledge, awareness or skills prior to the workshop. Whereas, between 70-90% somewhat agreed-agreed that they had gained the knowledge, etc as a result of the training. Survey results by specific outcome are listed below.

Outcome: Greater awareness of characteristics and needs of Latino farmers, families and communities. There were three statements relevant to this outcome. In response to the statement “I have a basic awareness of characteristics and needs of members of Latino communities,” regarding pre-workshop knowledge 83% of participants disagreed to somewhat agreed, while 85% somewhat agreed to agreed regarding post-workshop awareness. In other words, the vast majority of participants indicated that they had relatively little awareness prior to the workshop and about the same percent indicated that they increased their awareness after the workshop. In response to the statement “I have a basic understanding of the culture and values of members of Latino families and communities,” 72% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed with this statement with respect to before the workshop, whereas 87% somewhat agreed–agreed with respect to after the workshop. Regarding the statement, “I have a basic understanding of Latino/Hispanic culture and contributions to society,” 77% disagreed or somewhat agreed with this statement with respect to their understanding prior to the workshops; whereas 83% somewhat agreed or agreed with respect to their post-workshop understanding.

Outcome: Increased knowledge of non-traditional methods to reach Latino audiences. In response to the statement “I have a basic understanding of effective methods to provide information to Latino audiences,” 80% disagreed-somewhat agreed that they had the knowledge prior to the training; whereas 80% somewhat agreed-agreed that they did after the workshops.

Outcome: Increased knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges. In response to the statement “I have a working knowledge of Latino community concerns and challenges,” 87% disagreed-somewhat agreed that they did prior to the training; whereas 92% somewhat agreed-agreed that they did after the workshops. Regarding the statement “I am confident that I have the knowledge needed to increase involvement of Latinos in my programs,” 82% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed that they had the knowledge needed prior to training; while 77% somewhat agreed to agreed that they were confident in their knowledge following training.

Outcome: Improved skills to assist members of Latino agricultural communities to identify their needs and access information relevant to sustainable farming via programs offered by Extension, NRCS and other agencies. In response to the statement “I am confident that I can design and develop appropriate programs for Latino audiences,” 87% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed that they had the skills needed prior to training; whereas 77% somewhat agreed to agreed that they had the skills after training. Lastly, 88% of participants disagreed-somewhat agreed with the statement “I am confident that I can develop plans of work that will involve greater numbers of Latinos,” with respect to before the workshop; whereas 86% somewhat agreed to agreed with respect to after the workshop. It is probably relevant that one of the workshop activities was to begin modifying plans of work while working in small groups.

Outcome: Participants make transformational changes in attitudes towards Latinos. The survey indicated positive movement in this regard also. Regarding the statement, “I have a basic understanding of Latino/Hispanic culture and contributions to society,” 77% disagreed or somewhat agreed with this statement with respect to their understanding prior to the workshops; whereas 83% somewhat agreed or agreed with respect to their post-workshop understanding.

As explained under Methods, questionnaires were e-mailed to participants from the 1.5 day trainings from Illinois and Michigan; the departure of Jose Garcia from the University of Missouri proved a difficulty in following up with Missouri participants. Unfortunately, only one person responded to the questionnaire from Michigan. In Illinois, three different means were eventually used to collect qualitative information from participants in the may, 2006 training, including two different questionnaires and phone interviews. This proved necessary even though fairly frequent contact had been maintained with them via the Extension Latino Interest Group (see below). In Illinois, there were six responses from 16 questionnaires; in addition, telephone interviews were conducted and an additional questionnaire distributed to educators at a September 2007 Extension training for a total of 12 responses. (The training itself is at least in part attributable to the 2006 SARE-supported 1.5 day training.) One of the participants from the 2006 training had left Extension employment.

The questionnaires e-mailed to participants in the 1.5 day trainings provided qualitative information on the Intermediate Outcome, Greater number of sustainable agriculture and other outcomes for rural Latinos; as well as the Long-Term Outcomes, Agriculture and other educators include Latinos in regular programming in sustainable agriculture and other topics, and Increased participation of Latino farmers, youth and families in programs offered by Extension, NRCS, etc listed in the Objectives section.

Those queried were asked to list educational programs for Latinos that they had implemented at least in part due to their participation in the SARE training. Example answers include:
4-H youth camps and ongoing programs focused on developing small business skills among Latinos and Family Nutrition Program series for Hispanic audiences in Will County; and After School Programs with promotional materials translated into Spanish and a 4-H club whose membership is 90% Latino children, as well several Extension monthly newsletters prepared for Latino audiences in McLean County. In Macon County Latinos en Acción was established as a place where Latino families can work on projects with the Extension office as an initial meeting site; they are now coordinating activities with an established Latino organization in a neighboring county and are seeking grant monies, for example for English classes. The Family Life educator in that county took leadership in developing statewide materials such as the DVD Abriendo Caminos (opening paths), with a second DVD underway on obesity prevention and nutrition. In DeKalb County, the Extension office applied and obtained an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer to assist in development of a Latino community center; a number of health-oriented programs were also held. Interestingly, in Kankakee County, lessons from the SARE training regarding non-traditional Extension audiences have been applied successfully to projects with African-American farmers and rural residents.

In Illinois one of the accomplishments attributable at least in part to the SARE-funded project is the increased interest in programs for Latinos and in further cultural competency training for Extension staff outside the Chicago area (it already existed in that city). This showed a positive impact relevant to the Intermediate Outcome, Agricultural and other educators seek additional resources regarding Latino culture and communities. Five of the nine counties represented in the May 2006 training subsequently had at least one professional development program relevant to working with Hispanic/Latino audiences for their staff. In addition, an Extension “Latino Interest Group” was formed by participants from the 2006 training to exchange information and ideas and to provide mutual support for those committed to providing programs for Latinos. Fourteen Extension staff met initially in December 2006 for a panel discussion by four Hispanic business persons. Subsequently the group held two TeleNet conferences. The second led to planning for Professional Development Opportunity training in downstate Illinois in September, 2007. The 6-hour workshop was initiated by the Latino Interest Group and coordinated by German Cutz, the State Specialist in Spanish Language Programming. There were 17 Extension educators and administrators in attendance; five of whom had been participants in the 2006 training and who had traveled four or more hours downstate to attend the training (a rather rare event!). The Latino Interest Group plans a third TeleNet session for May, 2008. Thus the 2006 SARE training has continued to have an impact almost 1.5 years later. According to the Interest Group’s leader, neither the September, 2007 training nor the planned 2008 TeleNet workshop would have occurred with out the SARE-funded project.

The remaining Intermediate Outcome, Increased number of Extension statewide plans of work for educational programs for Latino farmers in sustainable agriculture, and the Long-Term Outcome, Extension councils integrate Latino representatives into program planning process, represent systemic changes that will take longer than two-three years to occur and are effectively beyond the scope of the current project to evaluate.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Regarding this project’s potential contributions, please refer to the section on Outcomes and Impacts, which also includes information on Accomplishments.

Future Recommendations

It’s important to recognize that professional development programs or trainings that last one or even two days, farm tours, or other types of site visits will have limited impacts on programming for Latino audiences by Extension and other agencies. For change to occur regarding reaching out to Latino audiences with relevant, effective programs, there is a need for sustained professional development opportunities by Extension and USDA agencies. This, of course, requires funding and clear administrative support. Ideally, this also requires at least one state-level professional with strong administrative backing to take responsibility for such a sustained effort.

In Illinois, as a result of the SARE project, about 14 of the Extension staff who participated in the 1.5 day training in 2006 formed a “Latino Interest Group” in order to exchange information and ideas and to provide mutual support for those committed to providing programs for Latinos. Fourteen staff met initially in Kane County in December 2006 for a panel discussion by four Hispanic business persons. Subsequently the group held two TeleNet conferences. The second led to planning for Professional Development Opportunity training in downstate Illinois in September, 2007. The 6-hour workshop was initiated by the Latino Interest Group and coordinated by German Cutz, the State Specialist in Spanish Language Programming. There were 17 Extension educators and administrators in attendance; five of whom had been participants in the 2006 training. The Latino Interest Group plans a third TeleNet session for May, 2008. Thus the 2006 SARE training has continued to have an impact almost 1.5 years later. According to the Interest Group’s leadership, neither the September, 2007 training nor the planned 2008 TeleNet workshop would have occurred with out the SARE-funded project.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.