- Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop
Extension has a long history of connecting with traditional farmers. As the US increasingly becomes more multi-cultural, Extension must expand its ability to serve culturally diverse groups. Due to current demographic changes, US Hispanics will play a larger role in the future of agriculture and the overall workforce and economy. The average age of farmers has increased, and the number of new farmers has decreased. However, the number of Hispanic operated farms has increased 21% between 2007 and 2012 (2012 Census of Ag). Pennsylvania reported 652 Hispanic farmers, representing a 24% increase. We have largely not connected with these farmers. In a recent survey of Pennsylvania growers, 123 of 140 adopted a production practice as a result of attending an extension meeting and 111 of 116 gained information from extension that increased their farm’s profitability. Hispanic farmers would benefit in the same way. However, to successfully engage Hispanic audiences, Extension programs must be culturally responsive. We need a systematic change in how we develop programming to create a sense of belonging for Hispanic farmers.
Commercial vegetable, small fruit, tree fruit and pesticide education educators need a new skill set to reach Hispanic farmers. In a 2014 survey of 24 Pennsylvania extension educators, the majority, 22 (92%), indicated that they want to upgrade their skills for working with Hispanic farmers and would attend a training program with that goal. A 2013 survey of 19 Start Farming educators prioritized cultural sensitivity training as one of the top five resources they needed. We will engage extension educators and specialists in Pennsylvania in three in-person training sessions, facilitate one-on-one visits with Hispanic farmers, provide a comprehensive packet of training materials, use a case study to evaluate and modify existing programming and brainstorm areas of new programming. By addressing barriers that interfere with participation of Hispanic farmers, upgrading skills needed to work with this underserved audience and practicing using this new skill set in program planning, extension educators and specialists will be equipped to reach out to Hispanic farmers and develop programming to meet their needs. Sixty-five Hispanic farmers will be more connected to extension programming through this project. They will benefit from extension programming in the same way as other farmers, by increasing knowledge and skills of science-based sustainable production practices resulting in increased profitability.
Performance targets from proposal:
15 Extension educators will employ recommended strategies to overcome participation barriers experienced by Hispanic farmers; as a result 65 previously disengaged Hispanic farmers who manage 6,370 acres participate in educational services offered through Extension.