Written by Ann Marie Murphy –
Latino ag worker. Photo credit: Lynn Ketchum OSU EESC
Latino ag worker. Photo credit: Lynn Ketchum OSU EESC

Congratulations are in order.

 

The team of Ariel Ginsburg, Dionisia Morales, and Luisa Santamaria will help OSU Extension Service broaden its audience base and increase confidence that we are serving the needs of an underserved population.

 

The team received a Professional Development Fund grant from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) for their project titled “What Workers Think: Communication Needs Assessment for Latino Farm and Nursery Workers.”

 

Ginsburg and Morales are publishing managers with Extension & Experiment Station Communications (EESC) and Santamaria is an Extension plant pathology specialist and assistant professor focusing on farm and nursery pests and integrated pest management (IPM). She is also a bi-lingual educator, providing hands-on training to nursery and farm workers on a range of issues related to IPM, food safety, plant pathology, and pest life cycle.

 

Why did the team think the needs assessment was necessary? Here’s a quote from the grant application: Spanish-speaking workers make up the majority of the labor force in Oregon’s agriculture and horticulture industries, and yet few publications and multimedia materials are designed to meet their vocational and linguistic needs. Many publications from the Extension catalog have been translated into Spanish, but feedback suggests that the translated topics aren’t always well suited to farm and horticultural workers because it is too technical, is written at too high of a reading level, or requires a computer to download and print.

 

The grant will help Extension learn what people don’t want, but more importantly, the three proposed focus group sessions will discover what Spanish-speaking workers in the farm and horticultural fields do want.

 

This is exactly the type of research that we need to do more of across age, geographic and cultural audiences in order to deepen our understanding of why, how, and when people want and need the knowledge residing within OSU.

 

The project begins September 2016 and wraps up September 2017. Proposed outcomes include:

 

  • Identify the key topics Spanish-speaking farm and horticultural workers find most relevant to their work and lives;
  • Create a set of criteria for gauging whether new and existing OSU Extension publications should be translated/re-conceptualized for the Spanish-speaking work audience;
  • Create guidelines for Extension faculty with the kinds of questions and activities that will help them identify the most effective communication materials for Spanish-speaking workers; and
  • Build collaborative relationships with local farm and horticultural operators to encourage future focus sessions and expand our knowledge of workers’ emerging needs and interests.

 

Looking outside the boundaries of Oregon, this information can be applied in any state where immigrant, migrant, or non-English speaking populations are an essential part of the food and plant production economy.

 

The ACE grant selection committee looked for projects with broad application across the country. As a requirement, project leaders will submit a final report for publication on the ACE website, making research results widely available. The OSU team also will be encouraged to talk about the project at next year’s ACE conference and to contribute to the Journal of Applied Communications. Additional 2016 ACE grant-funded projects include Scott Swanson, North Dakota State University, How to Capture High-Quality Video and Kristina Boone and Gloria Holcombe, Kansas State University, Exploration of Digital Asset Management Systems.