Enhancing the Capacity of Educators and Farm Leaders to work with Socially Disadvantaged Latino Farmers

Final Report for ENC06-090

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $33,750.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Juan Marinez
Michigan State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

The purpose of this project is to enhance the capacity of educators and farm leaders to work with socially disadvantaged Latino farmers by means of an educational model that integrates an Experiential Learning Curriculum (ELC) that is focused on Mexican cultural values and sustainable farming systems. The evaluation of ELP show that the program impacted the participants in several ways: understanding about culture and traditions of Latinos; cross-cultural understanding on Latinos; attitude toward Latinos, awareness of the needs, barriers, and challenges of Latinos; confidence and motivation to engage in multicultural educational programs; understanding about migration and rural poverty in Mexico.

Project Objectives:

The goals of this Professional Development Program were the following:
(1) to enhance the capacity of educators and farm leaders to work with socially disadvantaged Latino farmers;
(2) to assist educators and farm leaders to become more capable in conducting sustainable food and farming outreach programs with socially disadvantaged Latino farmers;
(3) to provide a unique reflective learning environment for the participants through a Experiential Learning Curriculum (ELC);
(4) to improve access to current and reliable information about Latino farmers by means of a website

The expected outcomes of this PDP are classified in short-term, intermediate and long-term.

1. Short-Terms outcomes
As result of program’s activities, certain short-term outcomes are expected. These include changes in participants’ awareness of the needs, barriers, and challenges of Latino farmers. Participants increased knowledge and awareness of Latino farmers’ background in sustainable farming practices. Other short-term outcomes include an increase in the participants’ knowledge about culture, traditions and family values of Latino agricultural communities. They gained understanding on Latino life styles, time orientation, and interpersonal relationships. The participants increased their awareness about important concepts in Latino communities: i.e. personal space, gender roles, informal and formal power structure, etc. Finally, the participants increased their confidence and motivation to engage in multicultural educational programs and they understood and learned strategies to build strong relationships with immigrant farmers as part of their outreach mission (Please refer to the section “Result and Discussion”).

2. Intermediate-outcomes
The intermediate outcomes were the result of the short-term outcomes:
(1) plan and design appropriate educational programs with cultural sensitivity for beginning and new Latino farmers in sustainable agricultural systems;
(2) develop creative and constructive educational programs in accordance with the needs of Latino farmers;
(3) relate positively to immigrant farmers;
(4) knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/ethnic backgrounds;
(5) accept and understand immigrants or beginning farmers’ limitations;
(6) establish mutually satisfying relationships with immigrant farmers;
(7) positive attitude toward diversity issues; and
(8) engage Latino farmers in program development.

3. Long-term outcomes
The systemic changes should include:
(1) improve partnership and communication among Latino farmers and agricultural agencies, NGO’s, and farm leaders in order to contribute to the productivity, viability and greater environment awareness of Latino agricultural communities;
(2) increase the effectiveness of educational program with immigrants, beginning/new farmers in a sustainable agricultural system in NCR; and
(3) improve the economy, the environment and the social well being of Latino agricultural communities in the NCR.

Introduction:

The Latino farmer population is increasing faster than any other farmer population in the United States (US). Between 1997 and 2002, they changed from 33,450 to 50,592. In contrast the US non-Latino population lost 86,650 farms (2002 Census of Agriculture). Latino farms are no longer distributed only regionally; they can be found throughout the nation (Buland and Hunt, 2000). In the case of North Central Region (NCR), the number of Latino farmers grew from 3,636 in 1997 to 7,246 in 2002. Latino producers and workers have helped slow down or even stop the decline of many rural communities. The growth of Latino farmers presents new opportunities as well as challenges for United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies, Non-Governmental organizations (NGO’s), and farm leaders because the Latino farmers in rural communities do have several common challenges: social, cultural, customs and/or language barriers, minimal awareness of USDA programs, limited management skills. Additionally, as a population their level of formal education is below the national average and they are generally less likely to take business risks and adopt new technology. As a result the immigrants or Latino farmers are considered as “Socially Disadvantaged” and/or “Limited-Resource” producers.

In spite of their growing number, Latinos and/or immigrant producers are being bypassed or under-served by the institutions that were set up to serve them. A reason for this situation is that educators, agricultural professionals, and farm leaders face cultural barriers when working with Latino farmers, who have different values, customs, and language (Christensen, 1997). Even though USDA agencies, NGO’s, educational institutions have the desire to promote a sustainable food and farming systems among Latino farmers, they often lack human resource skills to reach these emerging farming groups.

This educational program had three assumptions:
(1) cultural differences affect -directly and indirectly- the effectiveness of sustainable food and farming outreach programs with immigrant or Latino farmers;
(2) if educators understood cultural values and the farming background of Latino farmers, they can develop partnership and improve communication with them in order to increase productivity, viability and greater environment awareness in US Latino agricultural communities;
(3) knowing and continuing to learn cultural values and customs of Latino farmers can help educators understand their attitudes and reactions and therefore reduce stereotypes.

Consequently, the purpose of this Professional Development Program (PDP) was to enhance the capacity of educators and farm leaders to work with socially disadvantaged Latino farmers by means of an educational model that integrates an Experiential Learning Curriculum (ELC) that is focused on Mexican cultural values and sustainable farming systems and a website that has current and reliable information on Latino farmers in the US.

Cooperators

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Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

To achieve the program’s objectives, a variety of human and material resources were invested:
(1) a PDP integrated with an ELC and a comprehensive Latino Farmers Website (LFWeb);
(2) staff expertise and knowledge on Latino farmers;
(3) a SARE grant;
(4) staff and institutional in-kind resources;
(5) the support of US and Mexican institutions, i.e. Michigan State University and Universidad Autónoma Chapingo;
(6) participation of US and Mexican bilingual instructors;
(7) technological support;
(8) program’s participants from USDA agencies, NGO’s, and educational institutions in NCR; and
(9) registration fee and airline ticket by the participants.

The Professional Development Program used a combination of five key activities:
(1) develop and implement an ELC;
(2) design and support a website on Latino farmer information,
(3) plan and organize 1, twelve-day experiential learning field trip in Mexico;
(4) selection and follow-up of program participants; and
(5) design a logistic website.

1. The Experiential Learning Curriculum had two main components: twelve-day experiential learning field trip in Mexico and the handouts with educational materials. The ELC covered the following topics: culture, customs, family values and sustainable agriculture systems of Mexico. US and Mexican educational leaders designed and taught the curriculum. Participants will be immersed directly in the culture and values of traditional Mexican communities, which many of our new US farmers derive from. Under this learning model, extension educators increased their consciousness of barriers faced by individuals who belong to this demographic farming group, in an environment where the language, values, and traditions are different from their own. The participants increased their knowledge of Mexican culture, social structure, social networks, and Mexican sustainable agricultural practices. This cross-cultural learning experience enhanced and promoted a positive view of Latino and/or immigrant farmers within the participants (Please refer to the section “Result and Discussion”).

2. Design and support a website with Latino farmer information. The website improves access to information on the following topics: demographics, farming operations, barriers or challenges, outreach approach and research results on Latino farmers in the US. The information was organized and systematized in a user-friendly and free website that can be accessed by program participants and other agricultural professionals and educators. The link to this website is www.us-latinofarmers.info

3. Planned and organized one, twelve-day experiential learning field trips in Mexican rural communities during spring 2009, in coordination with Universidad Autónoma Chapingo. They participated in hands-on field trip in Mexican rural communities in the states of Oaxaca and Edo de Mexico. The 2009 Program Schedule had some of the following activities:

Topic: Culture and Traditions
•Visit Zocalo (Town square), Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace and Templo Mayor in Mexico city
•Travel to the archeological site of Teotihuacan
•Tour at Chapel and see the murals of Diego Rivera
•Visit the archeological site of Monte Alban

Topic: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Migration
•Visit Universidad Autónoma Chapingo (UACH)
•Conferences: Native Genetic Resource: Considerations for Alternative Development; Diversity and Contrast within Mexican Agriculture; and Population Migration in Agriculture
•Visit Centro Regional Universitario Sur de la UACH – Oaxaca, Oaxaca

Topic: Social Organization, Rural Development and Culture
•Visit the community “Santa Catarina del Monte”
•Meal with local families/idea and information exchange

Topic: Extension and Outreach Program at Mexico and US
•Virtual Conference at UACH facilities and round table discussion

Topic: Natural Resources
•Visit Water Museum – Tehuacan Puebla
•Visit botanic garden “Santo Domingo” Oaxaca.

Topic: Local Development and Sustainability
•Visit the project: “Manejo Sustentable de la Microcuenca de la Cienega de San Miguel Tulancingo”

Topic: Mexican Indigenous and Their Culture
•Visit Teotitlan del Valle (rug weaving village)
•Meal with craftsman of CATZ Bii Dauu
•Visit indigenous market at Tlacolula de Matamoros

Topic: Women Organization, Family and Rural Small Business
•Visit Zimantlan and La Soledad and Production organization of women
•Meal with local families

4. Selection and follow up of program participants. The marketing of the PDP was lead by the project director Juan Marinez. The selection of the participants utilized the following criteria:
(1) Personal from the USDA agencies, NGO’s, extension educators, Farm leaders in the NCR;
(2) have responsibility for outreach programs in sustainable food and farming systems;
(3) work with and/or desire reach to Latino rural communities in the NCR; and
(4) accept program requirements of participation including international travel plans.

5. A logistic Website tool was designed in order to support the activities before, during and after the experiential learning program www.sare-exchange.info. The website serviced to accomplish the following:
(1) organize a set of educational material;
(2) facilitate reading resources on demographics, socio-economic, religion, health, education, agriculture, natural resource and environment on Mexican rural communities where the field work will take place;
(3) provide logistic support for all the necessary aspects of field work (i.e. application to the program, selection of the participants, program schedule, orientation session, health issues, legal issues, documents, etc.);
(4) post participants’ reflective essays and outreach proposals; and
(5) program evaluation results surveys.

Outreach and Publications

1. Experiential Learning Curriculum.
The Experiential Learning Curriculum has two main components: The Experiential Learning Field Trip in Mexico and the Educational Material. The ELC covered the following topics: culture, customs, family values and sustainable agriculture systems of Mexico. US and Mexican educational leaders designed and taught the curriculum. Participants will be immersed directly in the culture and values of traditional Mexican communities, which many of our new US farmers derive from. Under this learning model, extension educators increased their consciousness of barriers faced by individuals who belong to this demographic farming group, in an environment where the language, values, and traditions are different from their own. The participants increased their knowledge of Mexican culture, social structure, social networks, and Mexican sustainable agricultural practices. This cross-cultural learning experience enhanced and promoted a positive view of Latino and/or immigrant farmers within the participants. The curriculum is described in the following link: http://www.sare-exchange.info/2.html

2. Latino Farmers Website
The website improves access to information on the following topics: demographics, farming operations, barriers or challenges, outreach approach and research results on Latino farmers in the US. The information is organized and systematized in a user-friendly and free website that can be accessed by program participants and other agricultural professionals and educators. The link to this website is: http://www.us-latinofarmers.info/

3. Experiential Learning Program Website
A Website was designed in order to support the activities before, during and after the experiential learning program. The website serviced to accomplish the following:
(1) organize the Experiential Learning Curriculum;
(2) Provide logistic support for all the necessary aspects of field work (i.e. application to the program, selection of the participants, program schedule, orientation session, health issues, legal issues, documents, etc.);
(3) describe participant’s information;
(4) describe the program evaluation plan, instruments and results; and
(5) give access to some ELP’ pictures.

4. Program Evaluation Report
The report is based on responses from two instruments. The first instrument was the Pre-field Trip Information. This survey consisted of seventeen questions and was answered from September to November 2008. This created a baseline of information about participants’ characteristics and their overall objectives and expectations for participating in the ELP. The second instrument was the Overall Program Evaluation with 25 questions. On the final day of the ELP, the participants answered the survey.
The quantitative data was coded and analyzed using SPSS. The data were first submitted to frequency counts in order to detect coding or data entry errors. The first part of the analysis was descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentage, measures of central tendency and dispersion. The open-ended question was organized and analyzed using the answer transcriptions.

The report addresses the following questions:
1.What are the characteristics of the ELP participants?
2.What are the participants’ goals and expectations on the ELP?
3.What is the participants’ general feedback of the Experiential Learning Program Mexico?
4.What is the impact of the Experiential Learning Program on participants?

Outcomes and impacts:

On the final day of the ELP, the participants were asked to evaluate the impact of this program by completing the Overall Program Evaluation. An evaluation of this nature can be misleading in that the participants have not been given time to reflect on the field trip, but for the sake of this report their results have been recorded. Ideally, it would be valuable to conduct a follow-up survey to evaluate the impact of the ELP. An attempt, however, was made to assess the short-term impacts of this study tour by asking participants to rate the impact of the ELP on a 1-5 scale, 1 being “no change” and 5 being “improved”. Findings indicate that the ELP had the greatest impact on the participants’ awareness of the needs, barriers, and challenges of Latinos with a mean of 4.79. Other positive impacts were confidence and motivation to engage in multicultural educational programs, cross-cultural understanding on Latinos, and understanding about migration and rural poverty in Mexico. The lowest ranking was on the participants’ attitude toward Latinos with a mean of 4.36, because some of participants had a positive attitude toward Latinos before they participate in the ELP. Here are some of the participants’ comments:

•“Hard to answer because I came in with a very favorable attitude towards Latinos/Latino America”
•“I had a high respect for Latinos before I came. Anyone who would leave their home has to be highly motivated it status or starvation”
•“It was a life changing experience- a group of mostly strangers were brought together for one united effort, to learn about Mexican culture. What an incredible once in a lifetime (hope not my only once) opportunity!”
•“I feel so much more confident about talking to Latinos about where they are from, their family. I will never group them as a whole because there is such a great difference from town to town”
•“I have a greater understanding of the diversity of cultures in Mexico alone, and a greater respect for the challenges that Latinos face both home and in the U.S.”
•“I have highly respected Latinos. I have a better understanding of the history behind those values- This awareness has deepen my respect”
•“Appreciation of richness of their background, the strength they have and the problems they face and the attempts to deal with them. Brought about understanding, a new respect for them”
•“I have a greater appreciation of Latinos in small, rural communities, the challenges they face and their strength”
•“Understanding of the culture and the reasons for migration”
•“I admired their hard work ethic & family values prior to coming- but even more now”
•“I appreciate what people do with very little. We are so fortunate what we have. One thing that totally surprised me was the reason people migrate to the US. I thought it was all about money and the poorer they were; the more likely they would go to the U.S.”

In general, the means of the impact indicators would demonstrate that the participants’ attitudes or understanding improved or changed as a result of the ELP. The following are the comments from the participants concerning the impact of the ELP:

•“This was an awesome, life-changing experience. The history, culture, and knowledge these people are amazing. I feel as if I can do anything in the Mexican Community”
•“I don’t know how to even begin to put into words the emotion I felt for the Latino- The poverty was overwhelming to see, yet they have such a sense of pride of family, back in the States we are too much of a materialistic society, we need to get back to a simpler way of life”
•“I felt like I learned as much as I could possibly learn in 12 days. I also started to get a sense of how much I don’t know”
•“As a Latina I understand the culture but I feel that my understanding is much stronger”
•“Desire to study more in depth the culture, Mexico, history, plus learn Spanish to be more effective”
•“I did not realize the families encouraged the cream of the crop to immigrate. Nor sending money home was for safe keeping as well as family assistance. Our non-intrusive presence as visitors learners and advisors can help preserve ancient cultures, learning to coexist with the electronic age”
•“This experience helped to place migration into context and greatly improved my understanding of challenges in Mexico that contribute to the desire to come to the U.S.”
•“It was mysterious to me what drew Mexicans to the US- I understand this so much better now. I can see that this migration will grow- which may not always be positive for individuals plus families affected. I see that we have become interdependent (US and Mexico). I believe we in the U.S. must take responsibility for balancing this relationship to be more mutually beneficial”
•“Language is still a large barrier for me”
•“This is a huge issue. Our countries are intertwined. What we do affects Mexican people greatly. An example: the price of corn. People who are anti immigrant don’t understand the extreme poverty of many of the people. They don’t see the wonderful values of the indigenous peoples”
•“When you ask a child in the U.S. what do you want to be when you grow up? They might say “teacher or firefighter. A Mexican child may say a U.S. immigrant because that is what they know”

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The following results are a summary of the educational program evaluation (http://www.sare-exchange.info/5.html). The primary purpose is to identify strengths and weaknesses of the 2009 Experiential Learning Program in Mexico. The study addresses the following questions:

1.What are the characteristics of the ELP participants?
2.What are the participants’ goals and expectations on the ELP?
3.What is the participants’ general feedback of the Experiential Learning Program Mexico?
4.What is the impact of the Experiential Learning Program on participants?

This evaluation report is based on responses from two instruments. The first instrument was the Pre-field Trip Information. This survey consisted of seventeen questions and was answered from September to November 2008. This created a baseline of information about participants’ characteristics and their overall objectives and expectations for participating in the ELP. The second instrument was the Overall Program Evaluation with 25 questions. On the final day of the ELP, the participants answered the survey.

The quantitative data was coded and analyzed using SPSS. The data were first submitted to frequency counts in order to detect coding or data entry errors. The first part of the analysis was descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentage, measures of central tendency and dispersion. The open-ended question was organized and analyzed using the answer transcriptions.

The results are presented in two sections. The first section presents the results of the pre–field trip survey. It describes the information of participants and participants’ goal and expectations on the ELP. The second section presents results from the overall program evaluation. This section is divided in three parts:
1) general feedback of ELP;
2) content relevancy of ELP; and
3) evaluation of ELP arrangements.

Pre-Field Trip Survey Results
The pre-field trip information survey was answered from September to November 2008, with the goal of creating a baseline of information about participants’ demographics and their overall objectives for participating in the ELP. Fourteen participants sent the survey to Michigan State University Extension office in East Lansing Michigan. Most of the participants (64%) were women and only 36% were men. The average age of participants was 45.6 years old with a standard deviation of 12.28 years. The oldest participant was 62 and the youngest was 23 years. The participants reside in seven states (Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada and Washington).

The participants’ educational level is an important characteristic when developing and implementing educational programs. Ten respondents (71.4%) stated that they have earned a postgraduate degree and 4 (28.6%) of the respondents stated that they have earned a bachelor degree. The participants were asked their technical or subject matter expertise. There is a great diversity in their educational background.

The average year of participants’ experience in educational institutions, NGOs, or extension agencies was 12.43 years with a standard deviation of 10.2.

The survey asked the fourteen if this was their first travel outside of the United States and if so, was this their first trip to Mexico. Of the fourteen participants, only 14.3% (2 persons) had not traveled outside of the United States. Two out of every three participants indicated this was their first trip to Mexico.

Participants’ Goals and Expectations on the ELP
The participants were requested to complete a survey of six open-ended questions prior to their participation in the ELP. Some of those responses are reported in the body of this document.

The first question was, “What is your experience involving clientele in international programs/activities/issues?” The following are some of the answers for this question:

•“I have never been out of the United States. I work with a large number of Hispanics, primarily from Mexico”
•“Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) has been working with Michigan Latino farmers since 2001 when it received its first grant to work with Multicultural farmers in Michigan. MIFFS programming has been mainly focused with Latino producers in Michigan and has not involved working with international programs. My work with another non-profit (NGO) allowed me to work with Michigan farmers to educate them regarding policy issues, trade agreement, marketing opportunities, and recruiting farmers to attend exchange trips”
•“I don’t have an Extension appointment, so I don’t have “clientele” statewide as part of my formal appointment. However, for the last few years I have been involved in projects related to engaging Latinos in agriculture and food systems in the state. Moreover, I always strive to bring cross cultural education to the classroom setting”

The second question was, “What is your overall objective or goal for participating in the ELP in Mexico?” The comments below give some highlights about this question:

•“I want to develop a better understanding of Mexican culture and agriculture so that I can improve educational programs for Latino (mostly from Mexico) clientele (farmers and landscapers) and provide more support to the WSU Extension Immigrant Farmer program”
•“I expect to gain insights in the Hispanic culture which will allow me to assist in the integration of Hispanics into Sustainable Agriculture System. I expect to make contacts and form the beginning of networks with the Agriculture Institution of Mexico”
•“To learn more about the Mexican culture, traditions and habits. By doing so, I can bring my knowledge back and work with children and adults in my communities. Our county was the first in Kansas to become a “majority” Hispanic”
•“I would like to learn more about the cultural values of the largest Latino Community that is migrating to Missouri. Understanding the cultural differences of this client group will improve my ability to provide better assistance. In my role I help and guide those seeking information on how to facilitate a smooth integration of Latino newcomers to Missouri”
•“I want to learn about the culture, values and experiences of the Mexican people in order that I may better meet their needs in my community. I want to improve my Spanish language skills. Since my background is in horticulture, I think I will then be better able to teach Latinos about growing their own food sustainably in the northern Nevada environment allowing them to be better off financially while improving their family’s nutrition”
•“This trip would enable myself as an Extension educator to learn more about Mexican culture and agriculture in areas from which most of the Mexican immigrants are coming that are working for the dairies in our area. I plan to educate and work with the dairy managers to educate their communities regarding the Hispanic workforce through newspaper articles, community presentations and ag industry groups”

The third question was, “Describe three specific expectations of this study tour?” The following is a list of some answers to this question:

•“1) Gain a better understanding of Mexican agriculture and culture through discussions with farmers and academics, and by visiting farms and communities. 2) Gain a better understanding of cross-border issues from a Mexican perspective, including emigration-immigration and the effects of NAFTA on agriculture. 3) Build connections with research and extension faculty in Mexico”

•“1) Promote cultural awareness and understanding among rural and community members regarding why the Hispanics are here and what contributions they are making to the dairy businesses and community. 2) Work effectively with dairy managers that supervise the Hispanic workforce and to build a stronger multicultural team within their business. 3) Be able to help organize, implement information on labor needs on farms in ND and provide a potential sounding board for Immigration Reform to meet economic needs of Dairy Farmers”

•“1) Learn more about contemporary agrifood systems in Mexico. 2) Learn more about the socio-cultural background and conditions of the areas that are “sending regions” to the US Mid-West. 3) Develop connections, linkages, etc., in order to create future opportunities for cross cultural exchanges (in teaching, research, outreach) between Mexico and KS”

The fourth question was, “How do you think your Extension clientele will benefit from your participation?” The following are some of the comments from the participants:
•“I want my clientele to feel like they are interacting with a professional that understands and respects their culture and traditions. I believe they will benefit from my immersion experience because I will be able to relate to their life experience whether they are recently immigrated or not. This experience will hopefully strengthen my ability to communicate with the Latino populations of Sedgwick County”
•“From increased capacity to advance the overall agenda of engaging Latinos in our state in agriculture and food systems”
•“I expect to enhance my understanding of the problems that Hispanics face in the US. I expect more participation in programs and services that can help them to improve their income and way of life. I hope to help farmers to remain farmers or motivate others to become farmers”
•“I will be able to better understand our Spanish-speaking clientele and meet their needs. I will be able to invite them into our community gardens and help them be successful growing their own food. Better communication will allow us all to work together”

The fifth question was, “Describe some international issues currently concern clientele in your county” The following is a list of some answers to this question:
•“As is common with most recent immigrants, there is concern for immigration laws and risk of deportation for some. Other longer-established residents are concerned with better access to healthcare and improving the educational opportunities for their children”
•“1) Increasing Hispanic population. 2) Lack of understanding of other cultures. 3) Need for educational programming for those of other cultures within communities”
•“Immigration, language barriers and cultural differences. Many rural communities are very conservative and some citizens are very strong against the presence of newcomers”
The last open-ended question was, “What are your preliminary ideas for programs / activities within your present assignment in which you could develop a focus to improve understanding?” Following are some of the responses to this question:
•“I am interested to examine the dynamic of a Mexican family living in Mexico, with particular attention to marital relationships and parenting. In addition to my work with the Latino marriage curriculum, I also frequently teach parenting classes for parents of young children. I would be interested in adapting the curriculum to fit the needs of Latino families in a culturally-sensitive way”
•“The goal of any Extension Educator is to help individuals becomes self-sufficient and provide them the means to improve the decisions they make as individuals or families to sustain family and community. As the Latino-Hispanic people become a significant part of our communities in the Midwest, we need to be informed as educators how to best enable these individuals to obtain quality life through food security, acceptance in a community, becoming productive members of society. Agricultural issues, food systems, family dynamics, culture and community are all interrelated and factor together in overall sustainment and quality of life”
•“I will have lots of opportunity to share my experiences on this trip when I return. In Kansas City, we are seeing a rapid rise in immigration from Mexico. Many people want to understand our new neighbors better but may not have direct contact with immigrants. I hope to encourage that cross-cultural communication how better to do that than through food experiences”

Results on Overall Program Evaluation
Upon completion of the ELP, the participants completed the overall program evaluation survey. The instrument consisted of 25 questions. Some of these questions required the participants to rank certain aspects of the ELP on a scale of 1-5. Other sections of the survey were open-ended questions. They participants were encouraged to add comments on any aspect of the program.

General Feedback of the Experiential Learning Program (ELP) in Mexico
To provide an evaluation of the overall program, participants were asked to rank the ELP on a scale of one being “poor” to five being “excellent”. The average ranking for the overall rating was 5.0 with a standard deviation of .0. All participants ranked this ELP as excellent.

When asked if their personal objectives were met as a result of participating in the ELP, all participants responded that their objectives were extremely well met. A mean score of 5.0 with a standard deviation of .0 illustrates that the objectives were extremely well met for the participants of this ELP. The following are some of the comments from the participants:

•“The program exceeded my expectation in all aspects”
•“I received more than I expected both personally and professionally”
•“I felt I had a full dimension in this culture, and no other way would had provided to me”
• “Helped provide foundation of understanding on which to build”
•“Sustainable small scale has wonderful techniques to take home”

The participants were also asked to rank the time allotted for this two weeks ELP with one being “not enough time”, two being “just the right amount time”, and three being “too much time”. Most of the participants (85.7%) responded that the time allotted was just right and only two participants responded that there was not enough time allotted (14.3%).

When asked whether or not they would recommend this ELP to others, the participants answered unanimously that they would recommend this trip. Some of the comments are the following:

•“Words cannot define the personal and professional development I have gained”
•“You cannot learn what we did from a book or in a classroom or even as a tourist”
•“I would like to see similar programs for teachers and local political leaders”
•“Everyone should have an opportunity to embrace this culture. Especially State senators who are against immigration reform”
•“Everyone should have the opportunity to be immersed in a culture because there is no way this type of learning could occur through books”
•“We got immersed in the culture immediately”
•“Depth of learning and understanding it brings wonder real experience”
•“One learns more than the curriculum. Each sees something different”
•“To better understand Mexican Sustainable agriculture and the culture”
•“It is an eye opening and a way to share our knowledge with the people here and make the contacts”

Content Relevancy of ELP
The participants were asked to rank four categories as to relevancy and usefulness to the ELP. The first question asked the participants to rank the relevancy of places visited in relation to ELP objectives, and the scores ranged from five being “highly relevant” to one being “not relevant”. Thirteen of the fourteen participants (92.9%) considered the places visited as highly relevant to the overall ELP objectives, and only one (7.1%) rated this category as just relevant.

The participants were also asked to rate the usefulness of the number of visits and presentations. Eight of the fourteen participants (57.1%) responded that all the visits and presentations were useful to them and six of participants (42.9%) responded that almost all of the visits and presentations were useful. The mean of the respondents was 4.57 with a standard deviation of .514 which would suggest that almost all of the visits and presentations were useful to the participants.

The next two questions were concerned with the participants’ involvement and interaction in the ELP. Responding to the amount of involvement in the ELP, the participants rated 85.7% as very adequate with a mean of 4.86 and standard deviation of .363. This means that twelve of the fourteen participants found that their involvement in the ELP was very adequate. When asked to rate the interaction among ELP participants, the respondents rated this as very good (78.6%). The mean for these respondents was 4.79 with a standard deviation of .426.

Experiential Learning Program Arrangements

Participants were asked to rate the adequacy of the ELP logistics including travel arrangement, hotels, meals and snacks, tour and field trips, and general assistance during the ELP. A 5-point rating scale, 1 being “unsatisfactory” and 5 being “excellent’ was used. In general, the participants were pleased with the logistical arrangements for the ELP. The general assistance category received a score with 4.79 which would indicate that the overall the arrangements for the trip were very good or excellent. Three aspects received the highest score with 4.93 on a scale of one to five.

Recommendations:

Future Recommendations

Areas Needing Additional Study

First and foremost, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) team that read the proposal “Enhancing the Capacity of Educators and Farm Leaders to Work with Socially Disadvantaged Latino Farmers” must be congratulated for supporting this program. They initiated new programming when they took the risk of funding this proposal. It has been SARE’s funding philosophy for 25 years to fund initiatives that only include a domestic sustainable agriculture program emphasis. When this proposal was selected for funding, it demonstrated that SARE is becoming aware that the “sustainable landscape” is changing in multiple ways. People from Mexico and other parts of our neighborhood, i.e. The Caribbean, Central and South America, should be included. So what does this mean for any sustainable agriculture initiative? It tells us that we need to continue to expand our experiential learning and look to its application of knowledge in our farmers and ranchers, professional staff members of USDA agencies, and our land grant research and extension faculty. This was the first step on behalf of SARE; it still has a distance to travel. We know that the faces of our farmers and ranchers are changing.

According to the 2008 census of agriculture, the largest growth of new farmers was in the categories of Native Americans, Latino/Hispanic, immigrants and women. We also cannot forget laborers who toil in the fields and work in the fruit, vegetable, meat and fish processing plants. We know that as we become more agriculturally sustainable, one result will be more employees in some of the agricultural sectors. This, too, has a large impact in the work of the USDA agencies and land grant colleges. We are not alone in this. Local, state and nationally elected officials who craft public policy can also affect rural agriculture enterprises in both positive and negative ways. Therefore, we should ensure that our SARE programs broaden and expand the lives of those with whom we work to help them think globally while acting locally.

The following recommendations are based on the experiences of the leaders and the participants of this ELP program:
•don’t make this initiative the one and only
•expand the participants to also include other USDA staff
•seek out us farmers, maybe from SARE the farmer rancher grant awardees
•make this exchange available to elected officials
•partner with an agriculture university with the same goals as SARE, USDA and land grant universities
•create partnerships with Mexican agricultural universities and agricultural ministries that share goals and objectives with SARE and its US partners.

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.