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  • Author or Editor: Emilie A.K. Justen x
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Emilie A.K. Justen, Cynthia Haynes, Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Nancy Grudens-Schuck

Horticulture is the fastest-growing sector of the agricultural industry, and this is true particularly in Iowa where the number of private horticultural businesses has more than doubled since 1993. The industry is relying more on non-English–speaking employees, especially Spanish-speaking workers, for golf course maintenance, landscape installation, and nursery production. Determining and serving the educational and training needs of a workforce that is not fluent in English is historically difficult for university extension programs. This study assessed educational needs and technical issues of English-speaking managers of primarily Spanish-speaking workers in the horticultural industry in Iowa, with special attention to language and cultural issues. Four focus groups were conducted, with managers recruited in cooperation with state professional horticultural associations. Communication gaps and challenges interpreting cultural differences were cited as key difficulties experienced by managers of Latino workers. The study produced a list of ideas for educational initiatives that would improve lateral (two-way) communications and delivery of Iowa-specific horticultural education and job-site training between English-speaking managers and Latino employees.