The terms Hispanic and Latinx have distinct meanings. Hispanic refers to people whose origin is in Spanish-speaking countries, whereas Latinx is a term inclusive of all genders and referring to people whose origin is in Latin American countries. Some people identify in both groups, and others only identify in one. Despite different meanings, these terms often are used interchangeably. Here, Hispanic is used to include both Hispanic and Latinx people.
Extension programs have a long history of successfully connecting with traditional farmers. As the United States increasingly becomes more multicultural, extension must expand its ability to serve culturally diverse groups. With 57.5 million members, Hispanics outnumber all other minority groups in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017). A growing number of Hispanic people are turning to farming as a profession. The number of new farmers overall has decreased between 2007 and 2012 [U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2014]. However, during this same period, the number of Hispanic operated farms increased 17% (USDA, 2012a). Texas, New Mexico, and Cali-fornia are the states in which most Hispanic farmers reside, but many Hispanics are farming in other states as well. For example, in Pennsylvania 652 Hispanics operate 550 farms (USDA, 2012b). For comparison, 581 farms are certified organic in Pennsylvania (USDA, 2012c).
Connection with Hispanic farmers through extension programming can improve. In a 2014 survey of 24 Penn State Extension educators and specialists, only 8 (33%) indicated that Hispanic farmers are well represented at extension events they host or attend. The majority, 22 (92%), indicated that they wanted to upgrade their skills for working with Hispanic farmers and would attend a training program with that goal.
Hispanic culture is vibrant and diverse: it is not homogenous (Escott et al., 1996). This also applies to the Hispanic farming community. As an example, one extension educator describes two Hispanic farmers in the area he serves like this, “one is a former doctor at [a regional medical center] and the other farms on the side, but also works as a migrant crew leader in the area.”
Generalizations can limit the effectiveness of training programs. For example, Hispanic farmers are U.S.-born and immigrants. Where individuals are born, along with how many generations their families have been in the United States, affects the degree of acculturalization or biculturalism (Escott et al., 1996; Schauber and Castania, 2001). In total, 37.8 million, or 65.8%, of Hispanics are U.S.-born (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017), and many Hispanic families have roots in the United States going back numerous generations. Among foreign-born Hispanics, 40% use English or both English and Spanish. Among U.S.-born Hispanics, 95% use English or both English and Spanish (Krogstad and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2015). For Hispanics who solely or mostly communicate in Spanish, use of Spanish language is important to provide access to agricultural programming and to avoid marginalization. However, simply translating existing programming materials from English to Spanish will not be effective for creating a sense of belonging for most Hispanics. Indeed, to successfully engage minority audiences, programs must be culturally responsive. They must reflect the cultural traditions, beliefs, and values of the people (Koss-Chioino and Vargas, 1999).
We engaged 25 agricultural educators in an in-person, three-workshop training series aimed at gaining knowledge and skills needed to plan, design, advertise, and deliver agricultural programs welcoming to Hispanic farmers and farmworkers. During the training sessions we 1) identified barriers that interfere with participation of Hispanic farmers and farmworkers, 2) upgraded skills needed to work with this underserved audience, and 3) used this new skill set in program planning.
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