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Pedro Perdomo* and Kenneth Karamichael

Industry statistics indicate that there are approximately 150,000 people working in the green industry in New Jersey. About 50% to 60% are Hispanic. Nationally, 43% of Hispanics are not proficient in English. The education of Hispanic workers in their own language increases job skills, improves efficiency, and on the job safety. Spanish language horticultural courses were offered to educate members of the landscape community in New Jersey. Spanish language courses included general turf management, pruning of trees and shrubs, plant identification, hazardous tree identification, and basic pesticide training. The landscape classes began with a slide presentation that covered basic concepts, materials, and techniques that the landscaper should be aware of. Whenever possible, the courses were taught in a bilingual (Spanish/English) format to help participants familiarize themselves with English terms. Along with the in-class training, outdoor demonstrations were incorporated into all courses and participants were given the opportunity to practice what they had learned in the classroom. Over one hundred fifty employees registered for the classes between Jan. and Dec. 2003. Certificates of attendance were issued to all participants and were considered as a positive component of the courses. About 24% of the participants attended more than one of the courses and 100% would recommend the courses to their friends and co-workers. Seventy five percent of landscape business owners stated that they would consider sending other employees to future courses. Fifty percent of the participants were interested in attending courses that covered technical information, such as those offered to the English speaking landscape community.