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EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND PREFERENCES OF HISPANIC FARMWORKERS
RELATED TO PESTICIDE WORKER PROTECTION STANDARD (WPS)
DILCIA ELISA TORO ALFARO
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Dilcia Elisa Toro Alfaro
To my parents, Eduardo and Dilcia Toro.
There are many people who have supported me during this research. First, I thank
God for his amazing grace and love. One thing is unquestionable: His faithfulness.
Second, I want to thank my parents, my sisters, and all of my family for their care and
Next, I want to thank my supervisory committee members for their help and
support. I thank Dr. Nick Place for his patience, kindness, and all his support throughout
this process. I also thank Dr. Fred Fishel, Dr. William Stall, and Dr. Tracy Irani for all
their advice and suggestions. In addition, I want to thank Extension Agent Cesar Asuaj e
for his willingness to cooperate with this study. His experience and knowledge played an
essential role in the development of this study. I also want to thank Gloria Lopez for
collaborating and providing feedback for this study. I am also indebted to Dr. Ed
Osborne and the faculty in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication
for funding my graduate studies through different grants, and for all their support and
encouragement. Especially I want to thank, Dr. Nick Place, Dr. Marta Hartmann, and Dr.
Furthermore, I thank Redland Migrant Christian Association (RMCA) for its
cooperation in granting me access to conduct this study. Finally, I want to acknowledge
the Interdisciplinary Field Research Grant for providing funding for this study.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv
LIST OF TABLES ................ ..............vii .......... ....
AB STRAC T ................ .............. ix
1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......
Probl em Statement ................. ...............4.................
Purpose and Obj ective ................. ...............5.......... .....
Operational Definitions .............. ...............5.....
Theoretical Framework............... ...............7
Limitations of the Study .............. ...............8.....
Summary ................. ...............9.................
2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................. ...............10................
H i spani c s................... ....... ....... ...............10....
Demographic Profile of Hispanics ................. ...............10................
Current Situation ................. ...............11.......... .....
Farmworkers ................. ...............14.................
Adult Education ................. ...............20.................
Learning Orientations ................. ...............23.................
Nonformal Education .............. ...............28....
The Cooperative Extension System ................. ...............34................
Worker Protection Standard (WPS)............... ...............37.
H i story .............. ...............3 8....
Pesticide Training ................. ...............38.................
Complying with WP S............... ...............44..
Sum m ary ................. ...............46.......... ......
3 IVETHODOLOGY .............. ...............47....
Research Design .............. ...............47....
Population and Sample .............. ...............48....
Instrum entation ............. ....... .........._ .. ..... ... .. ................51
Expert Panel, Pilot Study, Institutional Review Board (IRB) ................... ..........53
Credibility, Transferability and Dependability............... .............5
Data Collection .............. ...............55....
Data Analysis............... ...............58
Sum m ary ................. ...............59.......... ......
4 RE SULT S .............. ...............60....
Results of the Interviews .............. ...............60....
Demographic Profile .............. ...............60....
Pesticide Exposure............... ...............62
Previous Training Experience ................ ..... ..... .............6
Preferred Delivery Methods of Pesticide Education ................. ............... .....71
Sum m ary ................. ...............76.......... ......
5 DI SCUS SSION ................. ...............77................
Re sults ................ .............. ...............77.......
Demographic Prof 11e .............. ...............77....
Pesticide Exposure............... ...............79
Previous Training Experience ................ ..... ..... .............8
Preferred Delivery Methods of Pesticide Education ................. ............... .....84
Recommendations............. ............ ...............8
Implications of the results for UF IFAS Extension ................ ............... ...._...88
Directions for Future Research ................. ...............90................
Sum m ary ................. ...............9.. 1..............
A INTERVIEW GUIDE: ENGLISH VERSION ................ .............................92
B INTERVIEW GUIDE: SPANISH VERSION ................. ............................101
LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............110................
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............119......... ......
LIST OF TABLES
4-1 Demographic profile .............. ...............61....
4-2 Perceptions of pesticide exposure ......_..........._... ........._... ...._. ....62
4-3 Pesticide poisoning............... ...............6
4-4 Description of pesticide poisoning ...._.._.._ ..... .._._. ...._.._ ...........6
4-5 Pesticide exposure mode .............. ...............64....
4-6 Pesticide exposure in the fields .............. ...............65....
4-7 Use of protective body wear. ........._.._.._ ...._.._....._. ...... .....6
4-8 Health Impact ........._.._.. ...._... ...............66....
4-9 Hand washing and restroom facilities .............. ...............67....
4-10 Pesticide exposure at home .............. ...............68....
4-11 Previous training experience .............. ...............68....
4-12 Pesticide training provider .............. ...............68....
4-13 Approach used to deliver pesticide information .............. ..... ............... 6
4-14 Reason for lack of previous training ........._..... ....__. ...._.._ ........._.....70
4-15 Preferred provider .............. ...............71....
4-16 Preferred sites ............... ...............72....
4-17 Preferred method .............. ...............73....
4-18 Preferred language............... ...............73
4-19 Preferred frequency .............. ...............73....
4-20 Preferred day .............. ...............74....
4-21 Preferred timing............... ...............74.
4-22 Preferred hours .............. ...............75....
4-23 Preferred topics .............. ...............76....
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND PREFERENCES OF HISPANIC FARMWORKERS
RELATED TO PESTICIDE WORKER PROTECTION STANDARD (WPS)
Dilcia Elisa Toro Alfaro
Chair: Nick Place
Major Department: Agricultural Education and Communication
Hispanic farmworkers play a critical role in Florida' s agriculture through their
participation in the agricultural workforce in the state. Their job responsibilities
generally include working in areas that have previously been treated with pesticides,
thereby placing farmworkers at risk of pesticide exposure. The Cooperative Extension
Service is one organization that can provide pesticide educational programs specific to
Hispanic farmworker needs. Fifty-one Hispanic farmworkers participated in individual
interviews addressing their perceptions of pesticide training needs related to Worker
Protection Standard (WPS) in South Florida. Specific obj ectives of the study were to
explore perceptions of pesticide exposure, to describe previous pesticide training
experience and to determine the preferred delivery methods of pesticide training for
Overall, results showed that farmworkers have a high risk of exposure to pesticides
in the Hield mainly through indirect methods. Many farmworkers perceive that they have
been exposed to pesticides at work. Although no clear pattern was established in this
study, dermal, ocular and respiratory were all mentioned as routes of exposure. Also,
several workers have never experienced pesticide training. Results indicate the need to
develop and implement adequate pesticide educational programs for Hispanic
farmworkers. Further research is needed to test different learning methods and materials,
to determine which is more effective in reaching Hispanics farmworkers.
The State of Florida has a large agricultural sector that produces a wide array of
food, fiber, and associated services. Its subtropical climate provides a comparative
advantage for production of high-valued crops (Hodges & Mulkey, 2000). According to
the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services [FDACS] (2005), Florida
leads the nation in production of citrus, sugarcane, foliage plants, cut floral greens, and
tropical fish; and ranks second in the production of fresh market vegetables.
In general, agricultural production is labor intensive. According to the U.S.
Department of Labor (2005a) in 2004, 58% of the employed workers in the U. S. held
jobs as agricultural workers; 83% of these jobs were as farmworkers. Much of the U.S.
farm workforce is made up of migrant and seasonal workers, many of them recent
immigrants from Latin America, or aliens working under work permits.
A number of attempts have been made to enumerate the farmworker population.
According to Roka and Cook (1998), the rate of worker turnover and the transient nature
of seasonal farmworkers have made it difficult to develop accurate and consistent
estimates of farmworker numbers. Although there are no current reliable statistics for
their actual number, it is estimated that there are between 2.5 million and 4.2 million
farmworkers in the United States (National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
[NLIRH], 2005; Arcury, Quant & Russell, 2002; U.S. General Accounting Office [U.S.
GAO], 2000). Of these, nearly 200,000 are in the state of Florida (Larson, 2000).
Hispanic farmworkers are the majority and typically represent 70% to 94% of the
population of farmworkers. They play a critical role in Florida's agriculture through their
participation in the agricultural workforce in the State (Roka & Cook, 1998). Activities
performed by farmworkers in the field can include occupations that require handling
pesticides or other tasks such as planting, growing and harvesting in areas where
pesticides have been applied (Weber, Kinro, Snedeker, & Swift, 2004). According to
Ward, Prince, Stewart, and Zahm, (2001) working in areas which have previously been
treated with pesticides places farmworkers at risk of pesticide exposure. The actual
number of Florida farmworkers exposed to pesticides is not known because of
insufficient documentation (Galloni, 2004; Frisk, 2000).
Farmworkers are exposed to pesticides in numerous ways: dermal absorption,
inhalation, and ingestion, and exposure can cause many acute and long-term effects.
Acute effects include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, skin and eye problems, while long-
term effects include neurological disorders, reproductive problems, birth defects, and
certain types of cancer among others (Salazar, Napolitano, Scherer, & McCauley 2004;
Elmore & Arcury, 2001). However, exposure is relatively minimal if safety procedures
In order to diminish agricultural pesticide exposure, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency [EPA] (2005) implemented a federal regulation called the Worker
Protection Standard (WPS). This set of regulations requires employers of farmworkers to
provide information about exposure to pesticides, protection against exposures to
pesticides, and ways to mitigate exposures to pesticides. However, according to Galloni
(2004) commonly documented pesticide safety violations by the Florida Department of
Agricultural and Consumer Services include failure to train farmworkers in pesticide
safety and failure to post required pesticide application information in a central location.
According to Vela Acosta, Chapman, Bigelow, Kennedy, and Buchan (2005)
farmworker perceived pesticide risk has been correlated with pesticide information and
adoption of safety related behaviors which makes provision of proper training to
farmworkers crucial. Moreover efforts to provide safety training for farmworkers have
not been fully evaluated and there are still important questions about the cultural and
educational appropriateness of the regulations and the materials developed to implement
them (Arcury, Quandt, & Russell, 2002).
The Cooperative Extension system is a key organization that helps to address
pesticide training to farmworkers. According to Israel (1991) effective delivery methods
are important to the impact of extension programs. Effective delivery requires taking into
account the audience of a program and matching the information channel preferred by
them to those used by extension. Information channel refers to the use of mass media,
printed material, meetings, workshops, and demonstrations. According to Coldevin
(2003) an important element of these educational programs is the use of participatory
audience involvement in both information dissemination and motivation in the areas of
education and training.
According to Martinez-Espinoza, Fonseca and Chance (2003) one of the current
recipients and potential audiences of pesticide training programs delivered by the
Cooperative Extension Service are Hispanic farmworkers, and they generally have a low
education level. Limited literacy and language skills are a weakness in connecting
farmworkers with appropriate information materials, services, or resources available to
effectively accompli sh their j ob s.
According to Sork & Newman (2004) one important activity of educators and
trainers in program development is responding to the needs and interests or demands of
potential learners. In doing so, it is important to understand that program development
takes place within a context that requires the educator to adjust, and react to the potential
audience. This context can be political, economic, social, organizational, aesthetic,
moral, spiritual and/or historical. One way to understand potential learners is by means
of openness and questioning, as well as efforts to express experience and values from
Farmwork is listed as the second most dangerous occupation in the United States
behind mining. This is due in part to a combination of poverty, limited access to health
care and education, language barriers and hazardous working conditions (Migrant
Clinicians Network, 2006). Farmworkers are predominantly Hispanic, accounting for
approximately 83% of all farmworkers according to findings from Carroll, Samardick,
Bernard, Gabbard, and Hernandez, (2005) from the National Agricultural Workers
Survey in 2001-2002 and the fastest growing group.
Due to their high risk of being exposed to pesticides while conducting j ob tasks,
pesticide safety training is recognized as one of the priorities for this occupational group.
According to Spitzer, Whitford, and Frick (1994), the mandated pesticide safety training
included in the WPS has received minimal attention and has failed to provide the means
to educate the Hispanic population. Developing training programs and providing
adequate educational content and delivery methods of pesticide safety training has been
recognized as a need by previous studies to Hispanic audiences (Weber et al. 2004;
Martinez-Espinoza, Fonseca & Chance, 2003; Murphy, 1997).
According to Spitzer, Whitford and Frick (1994) there is lack of attention to the
informational needs and delivery mechanisms needed to effectively communicate with
this type of diverse population. This failure to communicate properly between experts
and farmworkers could reduce pesticide safety training to grower compliance rather than
encourage education that actually prevents worker' s exposure to pesticides.
Furthermore, the demand for extension programs that seek to implement effective,
farm-level safety and pesticide certification classes and training programs to small
farmers and agricultural workers in South Florida has increased for both the private and
public sectors in the last decade according to Lockette (2004).
Purpose and Objective
The purpose of this study will be to explore farm workers perceptions of pesticide
education training needs. The specific objectives of the study are:
* Explore Hispanic farmworkers perceptions of pesticide exposure.
* Describe Hispanic farmworkers previous pesticide training experiences.
* Determine the preferred delivery methods and strategies for pesticide WPS training
among Hispanic farmworkers.
This study will benefit people who work with pesticide training with Hispanic
farmworkers including UF IFAS Extension. It will uncover the educational needs and
preferred delivery methods and strategies for pesticide training that will allow them to
be more effective in reaching Hispanic audience.
* Adult education: the provision of planned learning opportunities for those persons
who society deems to be adults (Rogers, 1996).
* Acute effect: An adverse effect on any living organism in which severe symptoms
develop rapidly and often subside after the exposure stops.
* Exposure: The condition of being exposed without protection to the effects of
something (Costelo et al., 1992). When referring to pesticides there are four ways
in which chemicals can be taken into the body which can place an individual at
health risk. They are: oral, dermal, inhalation and ocular exposures (The Ohio
State University, n.d.).
* Extension: In this study, extension refers to a nonformal, problem-solving Land-
Grant University-based educational delivery system that links people to knowledge.
* Farmworker: An individual whose main occupation is in horticultural field-based
agriculture (including nursery operations and greenhouse activities). This was
specifically developed by the researcher for the current study.
* High-valued crops: crops other than traditional crops which include, but are not
limited to: coffee and cacao, fruit crops, root crops, vegetable crops, legumes,
spices and condiments, and cutflower and ornamental foliage plants.
* Hispanic: A person from Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central
American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race (Ramirez, 2004).
* Migrant Farmworker: An individual whose principal employment is in
agriculture on a seasonal basis and who establishes a temporary residence for such
employment (NLIRH, 2005).
* Nonformal education: any organized, systematic educational activity carried on
outside the framework of the formal system to provide selected types of learning to
particular subgroups in the population (Coldevin, 2003).
* Pesticide: Substances used to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate any pest ranging
from insects, animals and weeds to microorganisms such as fungi, molds, bacteria
and viruses (EPA, 2006)
* Seasonal Farmworker: According to the migrant health program (as in Larson,
2000), an individual whose principal employment is mainly in agriculture (51% of
time), who has been so employed within the last twenty-four months.
* Worker Protection Standard (WPS): a federal regulation designed to protect
agricultural workers (people involved in the production of agricultural plants) and
pesticide handlers (people mixing, loading, or applying pesticides or doing other
tasks involving direct contact with pesticides) (EPA, 2005).
The theoretical framework of this study is based on the Ba~sic Principles of
Curriculum andlnstruction for planning an educational program published in 1949 by
Ralph Tyler (as cited in Sork & Newman, 2004). The four stages of Tyler' s model are:
1. Deciding on educational purposes;
2. Selecting learning experiences to achieve those purposes;
3. Organizing the learning experiences for effective instruction; and
4. Evaluating the effectiveness of the learning experiences.
Tyler argues that educators should take account for people, society and the
intellectual climate, as well as the experts in the subj ect, in deciding educational purposes
and setting course objectives (Sork & Newman, 2004). Therefore, the educational
purposes of a pesticide education program should be based on the obj ectives set by the
Worker Protection Standards and the perceived WPS training needs, and the demographic
information of Hispanic farmworkers that were gathered in this study. In addition, this
model suggests that in selecting learning experiences to achieve those purposes, the
experience the learner goes through is very important. The trainer may provide
information, instruction and exercises but if that environment is not proper for the
participant then learning does not occur. The study will help uncover previous pesticide
learning experiences of a group of Hispanic farmworkers. In addition, it will also
determine preferred delivery methods for effective instruction.
In order for effective instruction to take place, education providers must offer
programs that meet the educational needs of the intended audience, attract the proper
clientele, and produce the desired changes in the participants (Hanson, 1991). Therefore,
programs should be designed to accomplish these goals. Tyler suggests several ways of
structuring a program that can lead to effective instruction. These include using
chronological order, the increasing application of a process or principle, expanding the
breadth and range of an activity, starting with description followed by analysis, providing
information followed by intellectual principles, and presenting a unified world view. In
regards to these, he identifies three criteria that should be met: (1) continuity, (2)
sequence, and (3) integration. Continuity is about recurrence of maj or elements in the
curriculum, while sequence is about experience leading to higher levels of understanding
and integration about incorporation of the learning that has taken place into the behavior
of a participant. Finally Tyler proposes that because the purpose of education is to bring
about a change in the behaviors of participants then an evaluation of their behaviors
needs to be done at an early point in the training, at a later point, and some time after the
training has been completed. The evaluation of the effectiveness of these learning
experiences will not be part of this study.
Limitations of the Study
* The real number of Hispanic farmworkers in the State of Florida has only been
estimated. The best data available at the current time about farmworkers comes
from the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Enumeration Profiles Study (U. S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2006). The reason for lacking
accurate information about the actual numbers of farmworkers is due to the fact
that most are part of a migrant population which makes it is difficult to study a
representative sample of the population.
* A common misconception is that all farmworkers are Hispanics. Although a
maj ority of Florida' s farmworkers are originally from countries in South and
Central America, and the maj ority of these from Mexico; there is a sizable
subpopulation of other ethnicities as well. In some parts of Florida, upwards of
3 5% of farmworkers are from Haiti and the Caribbean (U. S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, 2006). Many of the literature available and
research studies do not consider this variability when referring to the term
* Even though Hispanic farmworkers come from countries that extend from Mexico
to Argentina in South America and although all have Spanish as a common
language they have significant cultural differences that may affect how workers
respond to communication and educational processes.
* Another limitation of this study is the availability of workers to participate in the
study. Previous studies have reported difficulty with obtaining subjects for the
study. This is due to some farmworkers refusing to participate in studies because
they do not want to be disturbed from their daily remunerated job activities and
some do not feel comfortable because they fear providing information that can lead
to their deportation to their countries of origin because many are on an illegal
* Also studies have reported that farm owners can sometimes refuse to collaborate in
providing access to the researcher to the workers (Murphy-Greene & Leip, 2002).
Therefore, the study was conducted at a collaborating institution which granted
access to some Hispanic farmworkers to the researcher. As a result the sample
studied might not be representative of all Hispanic farmworkers since it was a
convenience sample rather than randomly selected.
* Self selection bias is a limitation in this study. Self selection can be a result of
using non-randomly selected samples. In this study the procedure used for
selecting subj ects (participants) was based on their willingness to participate as
volunteers. This means that the end result of this study could be different if non
participants would have volunteered.
This chapter justified the need and provided background for the research study.
Due to their high risk of being exposed to pesticides while conducting job tasks, there is a
widely recognized need to develop and implement adequate pesticide educational training
programs for Hispanic farmworkers. Providing proper educational training for these
types of audiences requires not only focusing on the content of the information delivered
but also on the clientele and on providing the proper environment in order for learning to
take place. The importance and relevancy of the research were described. The chapter
briefly described the situation of farmworkers in United States, illustrating the
opportunity and necessity of effective pesticide training and for extension services to
reach this occupational group.
This chapter reports a basis of literature regarding the Hispanic and farmworker
population and the need of adequate pesticide education for this population. Also a
description of the Worker Protection Standard and some of the efforts that have been
done to reduce pesticide exposure for this group is included. In addition, this chapter
explores current constraints and challenges that farmworkers face in the United States
concerning their employment and legal status, socioeconomic characteristics, education
and health issues.
Hispanics in the United States represent a diverse group of people, accounting for
nearly 12.5% of the total population (Ramirez, 2004). The term Hispanic is used to refer
to individuals whose social origin is outside the United States but from a variety of
Spanish-speaking countries, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican
Republic, Central and South America (Jeria, 1999).
Demographic Profile of Hispanics
Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population. This group
experienced a 61% increase in population between 1990 and 2000. In 1990 the Hispanic
population stood at 21.9 million (Ramirez, 2004). Estimates are that in the year 2010,
Hispanics will make up more than 15.5% of the U. S. population, accounting for about 48
million people. This trend is expected to continue so that by the year 2050, Hispanics
will make up about one quarter of the population or 102.6 million people (U. S. Census
According to Ramirez (2004) in 2000 nearly 60% of the total numbers of Hispanics
were Mexican in origin. The other 40% were categorized as Other Hispanics (16%),
Puerto Ricans (9.7%), Central Americans (5.1%), South Americans (4.0%), Cubans
(3.5%) and Dominicans (2.3%). In addition, 40% of the total numbers of Hispanics were
foreign born. Furthermore, about 7 out of every 10 Hispanics are either: (1) born in the
U.S. and have parents who were born in a Latin American country, or (2) have become
"naturalized" citizens meaning that they have acquired permanent residency or
citizenship by legal means.
In regards to their distribution, 90% of Hispanics reside in metropolitan areas
(Kandel & Newman, 2004). Moreover, Hispanics tend to remain heavily concentrated in
certain regions of the United States, notably the Southwest, the Northeast and South
Florida (Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). In 2000, the five states with
the largest Hispanic populations were California (11 million), Texas, (6.7 million), New
York (2.9 million), Florida (2.7 million), and Illinois (1.5 million) (Grieco, 2003).
Hispanics are the largest minority and fastest growing group in the United States.
According to Bergman (2004) it is expected that between 2000 and 2050 Hispanics and
Asian Populations triple their numbers. Hispanics are proj ected to grow from 3 5.6
million to 102.6 million and Asians from 10.7 million to 33.4 million. Another group
that is expected to grow is the black population from 35.8 million to 61.4 million. On the
other hand, non-Hispanic whites are expected to represent about one-half of the total
The Hispanic labor force The rapid increase in the Hispanic population has made
it the second-largest ethnic or racial group in the labor force behind the whites. Hispanics
now make up 13% of the U. S. labor force, but they are expected to account for about one
half of the growth in the labor force between now and 2020 (Pew Research Center,
2005). Most Hispanics come to the U.S. seeking better economic opportunities than in
their countries of origin. However, many of them lack the skills and preparation needed
to acquire high-paying positions. Another situation that some Hispanics face is their
illegal immigration status in the country, meaning that they lack authorization to work,
therefore, many end up acquiring agricultural jobs or low-paying manual labor jobs.
Although they support public education, many of them have little formal education,
which includes high rates of adult illiteracy and limited English proficiency. Low
educational attainment is a maj or factor limiting j ob access (Jeria, 1999).
Socioeconomic factors. Socioeconomic factors affect this population in important
ways. According to Sparks (as of Huerta-Macias, 2002) given their low income levels, it
is very difficult for Hispanics to move out of poverty and join the middle class.
According to Ramirez (2004) in 1999, the median family income for Hispanics was
$34,400, which is lower than the median family income of $50,000 for all families. In
addition, the poverty rate among all Hispanics was 22.6%, compared with the national
average of 12.4%. Wealth accumulation for Hispanics is also low; in part this is due to
the strong economic ties of Hispanic immigrants to their countries of origin. Many of
them regularly send money home, reducing the amount of money that is available for
them to live decently. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (as of Pew
Research Center, 2005), more than $30 billion was remitted to Latin American and
Caribbean countries in 2003.
Education. An issue that Hispanics face is that they typically have a low education
level. According to Llagas and Snyder (2003) young Hispanic adults are less likely than
any other group to complete a secondary degree in this country. Their findings as of
2000, indicate that 64% of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds had completed secondary
schooling, compared to 92% of Whites and 84% of Blacks. In addition, only 22% of
similar aged Hispanic population was enrolled in colleges and Universities. Finally, in
regards to adult education, the participation of Hispanics 17 years old and over is 44%, as
compared to 53% of Whites, 54% of Blacks, 53% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 53% of
American Indians/Alaska Natives, placing them in a disadvantageous educational
situation in comparison to other groups. According to the Pew Research Center (2005)
differences in early learning set the stage for later problems. Only 40% of Hispanic
children attend preschool as compared to 60% of other children. In addition, many
parents lack proper English language skills to communicate; therefore they are unable to
guide their children's educational progress limiting their children's exposure to English,
the primary cause of lower achievement for Hispanic students (Brown, 2004). According
to the Pew Research Center (2005) other factors that contribute to this low educational
attainment are a less demanding curriculum at high school level than that of their white
classmates and the need of Hispanic college students to work full time in order to afford
their fees and pay their tuition.
Immigration status. Another issue that Hispanics have to deal with is that a great
majority of them are not legal citizens of the United States. Immigration to the United
States has been greatest among Mexicans and among Central Americans fleeing political
and economic events in their countries of origin (Ortiz, 1995). Although precise numbers
are not known, demographers who specialize in immigration estimate according to Passel
(2005) as of March 2005, that the undocumented population which continues to grow
each year has reached nearly 11 million including more than 6 million Mexicans. The
distribution of these illegal citizens consists of the following: 68% of the undocumented
population live in just eight states: California (24%), Texas (14%), Florida (9%), New
York (7%), Arizona (5%), Illinois (4%), New Jersey (4%), and North Carolina (3%).
According to Pew Research Center (2005), the rest of this population has begun to
disperse across the country, with very fast growth rates in states that previously had
relatively small foreign-born populations such as Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Georgia,
Virginia and Massachusetts.
According to Roka and Cook (1998) Hispanics represent the maj ority of the
population of farmworkers. It is estimated that there are between 2.5 million and 4.2
million farmworkers in the United States (NLIRH, 2005; Arcury, Quant & Russell, 2002;
U.S. GAO, 2000) of these, 70% to 94% are Hispanic.
To this date, the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), a nationwide
random survey, is the only national information source on the demographic, employment,
and health characteristics of this population. The NAWS began surveying farmworkers
in 1988 and it has collected information from nearly 43,000 workers. The survey
samples all crop farmworkers in three cycles each year in order to capture the seasonality
of the work. The NAWS locates and samples workers at their work sites. Face-to-face
interviews are conducted with respondents at home or at another convenient location.
The information that the NAWS collects includes: household and family composition,
additional demographics, employment history; wages, benefits and working conditions;
health, safety and housing; income and assets, social services and legal status (U.S.
Department of Labor, 2005b).
Origin. In 2001-2002, the NAWS was conducted with a total number of 6,472
farmworkers and results showed that just 23% of all hired crop farm workers were bomn
in the United States; 75% were born in Mexico, 2% in Central American countries, and
1% of the crop workers were bomn in other countries (Carroll et al., 2005). Migration of
farmworkers to the U.S. can be traced to laws and programs that were designed to
overcome labor shortages in this country. According to Ahn, Moore and Parker (2004),
in 1917 the U.S. Department of Labor allowed farmers to recruit Mexican farmworkers
into the U.S. Also, in 1942, the Mexico Bracero Program was created. According to
Rosenberg (1993) (as of Ahn, Moore & Parker, 2004), this program provided contracts to
farmworkers from one to six months, and employers were required to provide food and
housing, pay local wage rates, cover medical expenses, and provide transportation
between Mexico and the farm. However, in 1964 the program was terminated due to a
lack of consistency from employers in following the guidelines that favored farmworkers.
Another event that prompted migration to the U. S. was the creation of the H-2 visa
category for "other temporary workers," under the 1952 Immigration and Nationality
Act. This type of visa allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers by signing a
contract with their governments. A recent event that might trigger migration from
Mexico to the U.S. is The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) along with
other economic liberalization policies which have transformed rural Mexico, pushing 1.7
million subsistence farmers from their land to migrate to work in export factories,
maquiladoras, or to fields and cities in the U.S. (Ahn, Moore & Parker, 2004). Moreover,
according to Alarcon and Mines (2001), the high percentage of Mexican workers in the
fields is due in part to poor working conditions on farms that fail to keep veteran U.S. and
foreign-born workers in agriculture. Also, it can be explained by the availability of
alternative low-wage jobs in the booming non-agricultural U. S. economy for more
experienced workers leaving agricultural positions open for recently arrived Mexicans.
Legal status. Persons who are working in the U.S. without recognition by the
immigration authorities are sometimes referred to as illegal immigrants or undocumented
workers. Findings from NAWS showed that at least half (53%) of farmworkers lacked
authorization to work in the United States. Another 25% of the crop workers in 2001-
2002 were U.S. citizens, 21% were legal permanent residents, and 1% were employment-
eligible on some other basis (Carroll et al., 2005).
Employment characteristics. In 2001-2002, nine out of ten of all crop workers
reported having worked for one or two U.S. farm employers in the previous 12 months.
Excluding foreign-born newcomers, who have less than 12 months of work history in the
United States, workers averaged 34 and a half weeks of farm work and five weeks of
non-farm work in the previous year. NAWS respondents worked an average of 42 hours
per week and had average hourly earnings of $7.25 (Carroll et al., 2005).
Socioeconomic chacteristics. Based on the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services in 2001-2002, 30 percent of all farmworkers interviewed had family
incomes below the federal poverty guidelines. The average individual income range
from all sources, as well as from farm work only, was $10,000 $12,499. The average
total family income range was $15,000 $17,499 (Carroll et al., 2005). On the other
hand, the annual income of farmwork is around $7,000 for a single worker and about
$10,000 for a family. These numbers encourage workers to leave the fields and move
into other vocations. In Florida, many workers remain in the agricultural field, but will
find year-round, full-time employment in nurseries. Many others will move into
landscaping, construction labor, auto mechanics, etc. (U. S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development, 2006). Relatively few hired farmworkers (22%) utilize any
government provided, need-based services such as food stamps (8%), Women Infants and
Children (WIC) (11%), and Medicaid (15%) and less than one percent reported receiving
general assistance welfare or temporary assistance to needy families (TANF) (Carroll et
Education. The maj ority (81%) of all crop workers reported that Spanish was their
native language. Forty-four percent reported that they could not speak English "at all." In
addition, on average, the highest grade completed was seventh grade. While 56% of the
U.S.-born had completed the 12th grade, only 6% of the foreign-born had done so. In
addition, 20% of all crop workers reported that they had taken at least one kind of adult
education class in the United States in their lifetime. The most popular of these were
English (10%) and high school equivalency (GED) classes (5%). Two percent reported
having taken j ob training or citizenship classes (Carroll et al., 2005).
Health issues. Migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families face health
care issues. According to Rosembaum and Shin (2005) often they are in poor health and
they are at elevated risk for an enormous range of injuries and illnesses due to the nature
of their jobs. In fact, according to Villarejo (2003 ), they have been designated as a
"special population" due to the unusual combination of higher than average occupational
risk exposures as well as poorer than average health status. This situation is worst for
this group because most of them lack health insurance. As of 2000, 85% of migrant and
seasonal farmworkers were uninsured (Rosembaum & Shin, 2005). This lack of
insurance can be attributed to the fact that so many are undocumented immigrants.
In an effort to outreach migrant farmworkers, the Migrant Health Program [MHP]
was initiated by the federal government in 1962 by providing grants to "family health
clinics." The program was modified in 1970 to include seasonal farmworkers as well.
The central notions of the MHP were that migratory families should be able to access
health services that are usually available to other families in American society, and that
preventive services such as immunizations and health education would serve to remedy
some of the most egregious conditions (Villarej o, 2003). The MHP currently provides
grants to 134 public and nonprofit organizations that support the development and
operation of over 400 migrant clinic sites throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
In 2004, Migrant Health Centers served over 675,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
Over 90% of users of these health centers are people of color, most of whom are of
Hispanic origin (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006). The MHP
supports the delivery of migrant health services including primary and preventive health
care, transportation, outreach, dental care, pharmaceuticals, occupational health and
safety, and environmental health. The agencies that provide such services use culturally-
sensitive clinical protocols and bilingual/bicultural health personnel and lay outreach
workers. They also provide prevention-oriented and pediatric services such as
immunizations, well baby care, and developmental screening (U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, 2006). The two most significant reported barriers to care among
migrant and seasonal farmworkers are its high cost and language barriers.
Classification. Although discrepancies exist among different classifications and
definitions of farmworkers, in a broad sense, farmworkers are classified as seasonal and
migrant. According to the Migrant Health Program (as of Larson, 2000) a seasonal
farmworker is: An individual whose principal employment (greater than 51% oftime/ is
in agriculture on a seasonal basis, who has been so employed aI ithrin the last twenty-four
nauthsrlr. Seasonal farmworkers live in one place year-round, they are employed in farm
work but they may also have other sources of employment (i.e. construction or factory
shift work) during the "off-season" (Farmworker Health Services, 2006; Migrant
Clinicians Network, 2006).
On the other hand, a migrant farmworker according to the U.S. Code, Public Health
Services Act (as of Larson, 2000) meets the same definition but establishes for the
purposes of such employment a temporary abode. This means that this type of
farmworker moves from one state to another (sometimes within the same state) in order
to stay employed in farm work, following the harvest season (Farmworker Health
Services, 2006). Forty two percent of the crop workers in 2001-2002 were migrants,
defined as having traveled at least 75 miles within the previous year to obtain a farm job.
Among the migrants, 26% traveled only within the United States and 35% migrated back-
and-forth from a foreign country (primarily Mexico). Thirty eight percent of these
migrant farmworkers had been in the country less than a year when they were
interviewed. Nearly all (99%) of the foreign-born newcomers were unauthorized to work
in the country (Carroll et al., 2005).
Farmworkers can also be subdivided according to their migration patterns. There
are three generally accepted "migrant streams," starting from each of the sending states
meaning the states that most migrants claim as their home. One starts in Florida, another
one in Texas and another one in California (U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, 2006). Farmworkers following these streams return to their homes after
the harvesting season ends to await the start of the next season. According to Larson
(2000) in the case of Florida, the state produces a great deal of agriculture that both
provides work for state residents and attracts out-of-state migrants. In the state there are
home-based interstate migrants who travel out of the state and some intrastate migrants
who travel only within the state. Some seasonal workers continue to live at home and
work in agriculture. On the other hand, thousands of individuals migrate into Florida for
work during the winter months when there are few seasonal agricultural opportunities in
other parts of the country. There are also a small group of individuals who perform no
agricultural work in Florida but leave to work as migrants in other states. These are
defined by the term "resident migrants" (Larson, 2000).
Given the low level of educational attainment of Hispanic farmworkers and their
low participation level in adult education, adult education is an important issue that must
be considered for this group. According to Birkenholz (1999), education and training
have been identified as primary factors that influence the standard of living enjoyed by
adults and their families. According to Famner, Rhoads, Cutz and Famner (2005) there are
several barriers to effective adult education in this population. The first is the language
barrier. Agencies lacking bilingual and bicultural staff are limited in reaching the
Hispanic population. Another one is the low level of formal education of Hispanics and
Einally, their busy schedules make it difficult to provide adult education opportunities to
this population. Relatively little attention has been paid to Hispanics as a group in adult
There are however a number of adult education programs that are currently offered
to Hispanics. Some of these programs are funded by the federal government or by the
state and include basic levels of reading, writing, and mathematics. These programs are
known as Adult Basic Education (ABE). Examples of these programs include English-
as-a-Second Language (ESL), vocational education, General Educational Development
(GED), and citizenship classes (Huerta-Macias, 2002). However, most of these programs
fail in retaining individuals who are enrolled in them and in attracting new individuals
and can sometimes result in unattained obj ectives. Many times this can be due to lack of
professionalization of instructors and implementations of non appropriate methods of
instruction that will meet the needs and interests of learners. Low levels of formal
education and training as well as lack of programs that effectively attain desired
obj ectives are indicators of the need to focus on serving Hispanics thru adult education.
Defining the term adult education is of considerable difficulty because it means
different things to different people. According to Merriam and Brockett (1997) adult
education depends on where it takes place, and on how each individual experiences the
phenomenon. The timing in life or age of an individual also plays an important role in
defining adult education. Some examples of adult education are teaching a literacy or a
nutrition class several mornings a week at a community center or a job-skills training
program at a company. What distinguishes these types of experiences from others is that
adult education is about working with adults in some organized, educational activity
(Merriam & Brockett, 1997).
Despite the fact that the practice of adult and continuing education is becoming
increasingly important in the public eye, a good deal of uncertainty exists as to what it
really is (Rogers, 1996). According to Merriam (2001), adult education is organized
activities involving educators and adult learners designed to enhance their quality of life
and the betterment of the community at large. A definition indicated by the Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (as cited in Rogers, 1996) is that
adult education refers to any learning activity or program deliberately designed by a
providing agent to satisfy any training need or interest.
This need or interest may be experienced at any stage in his or her life by a person
that is over the statutory school leaving age and whose principal activity is no longer
education. School leaving age refers to the age until which a child must remain in
education by law. In the U.S. schooling ends by law at age 16 in 30 states, at age 17 in
nine states, and at age 18 in 11 states plus the District of Columbia. Students may drop-
out of school if they have reached the age set in their state's law for the end of schooling,
but dropouts are not considered to have completed school and no certificate or award is
issued at this stage (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Under this context adult
education covers non-vocational, vocational, general, formal and nonformal studies as
well as education with a collective social purpose.
Another definition according to Rose (1990) is that adult education is a practical
field which focuses on the improvement of practice. Rose's definition includes in
addition to providers of traditional academic disciplines, providers of public adult
education programs, university extension, and urban evening colleges. Another way to
describe the field of adult education is as the culmination of organized training and
education opportunities for men and women within a society (Cookson, 1998). A
definition of adult education, then, usually includes some reference (1) to the adult status
of students, and (2) to the notion of the activity being purposeful or planned (Merriam &
Our knowledge about adult education is composed of many theories, models, sets
of principles, and explanations (Merriam, 2001). All of these can be encompassed under
Hyve major learning orientations in adult education. These perspectives help increase the
understanding of adult education and allow educators to see how learning can occur in
different ways. By using these Hyve orientations together, an adult educator can enhance
the learning process for the participants by identifying which of these seems to fit better
with the type of audience he is working with.
Behaviorist orientation. The behaviorist orientation views learning as a change in
observable behavior. It is also founded on the belief that learning is a direct result of the
connection between a stimulus and a response. Another belief of this theory is that all
behavior is learned and therefore all behavior can be modified or changed through further
learning (Birkenholz, 1999). What this means is that behavior is externally controlled
and occasioned by an antecedent stimulus and not by the individual learner. One
example of this orientation in a computer-assisted instruction program is if a participant
pushes the enter key on the computer and nothing happens, pretty soon he will stop doing
Adult vocational and skills training in which the learning task is broken into
segments or tasks in particular draws from behaviorism, as does technical and skills
training within human resource development (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999). Some
approaches and methods that can be utilized by educators include (1) reinforcement and
incentives, which uses positive reinforcement/rewards and incentives during instruction
for a desired behavior to occur; (2) instructional feedback, which utilizes giving feedback
frequently and immediately after a behavior occurs; (3) programmed instruction, in which
instructional materials are developed based on behavioral assumptions about learning;
and (4) games and stimulation, which allows learners to practice new behaviors and helps
to teach personal skills (Deshler & Kiely, 1995).
Humanist orientation. The humanist orientation was founded by Abraham
Maslow and is founded on the belief that learning is directed by an intrinsic desire or
motivation to achieve one's fullest potential (Birkenholz, 1999). Learning according to
Maslow is obtained as each individual seeks to fulfill each level in the Hierarchy of
Human Needs. Therefore, learning is seen as a process which is centered on the learner
and not on the content. The role of educators in the learning process is to act as
facilitators of leaming. An educator can utilize the following methods for the humanist
orientation: (1) needs-based programming, in which an educator plans programs based on
the needs of the student involved; (2) group discussion and study, in which students share
ideas with others regarding a topic of interest; (3) self-directed learning, in which
facilitators and learners negotiate and agree upon goals, methods, time tables, evaluation
methods and other details; (4) interpersonal interaction and encounter, based on
encounter groups and on specific support groups that deal with emotions by encouraging
honesty, openness, and expression; and 5) experiential learning based on learning by
doing (Deshler & Kiely, 1995).
Cognitive orientation. The cognitive theory suggests that learning is a result of
individually centered mental functions. Cognitive theorists believe that individuals
control their learning through their own mental processes (Birkenholz, 1999). Learning
focuses on thinking processes and unobservable constructs and occurs in an attempt to
make sense of the world and give meaning to experiences. The role of educators is to
facilitate the acquisition of knowledge by providing organization that allows the learner
to incorporate new information into their existing knowledge base and to provide the
environment, materials, and feedback that will allow discovery of knowledge. The role
of learners is to be active and proactive and to be constantly trying to incorporate
experiences into previous knowledge and to seek out information to solve problems.
Some of the approaches and methods that can be used by the educator with the learner
include: 1) an advance organizer (AO), which is a bridging/connecting strategy that links
what is to be learned and what learners already know through literal language; (2)
metaphor, analogy and simile (MAS), which allows learners to learn similarities between
what is known and what they will learn through figurative language; (3) chunking or
organizing strategies, which helps to order, classify, and arrange information into
new/existing categories, an example is creating floor plans; (4) framing, which provides
structures that help pieces of information to be better understood in relation to a whole,
some examples are charts, matrices and displays; and (5) concept maps, which are
spatially constructed representations of relationships among concepts, some examples are
hierarchy maps, chain maps and cluster maps (Deshler & Kiely, 1995).
Social learning orientation. The social learning orientation suggests that adults
learn through observation, and upon reflection, will imitate or modify their own behavior
accordingly (Birkenholz, 1999). This orientation combines elements from both
behaviorist and cognitive orientations. It integrates the concepts of reinforcement and
environmental influence of the behaviorist orientation and the concept of internal
structures and processes of the cognitive orientation. The role of the educator is to act as
a facilitator of social interactions and to be a model that the learner will seek to imitate.
On the other hand, the learner acts as an observer, decision maker, and processor of
information. Methods and approaches that can be used by this orientation include: (1)
demonstrations and trials, in which learners watch someone doing something new; (2)
behavioral modeling, which is used in interpersonal relationships by identifying people
who perform well in certain situations that will improve a relationship; (3)
apprenticeships and mentoring, based on observation of demonstrations where
individuals are coached to do a job; 4) tutorials, where tutors are seen as the experts and it
has to do with one-on-one learning; (5) peer partnerships, based on "friends teaching
friends;" and (6) on-the-job training based on providing demonstrations, coaching, and
monitoring achievement (Deshler & Kiely, 1995).
Critical reflection. In general, critical reflection involves the learner in identifying
and evaluating the assumptions, beliefs and values that underlie his or her thoughts,
feelings or actions. This leads to a transformation in how people see themselves and their
world. Critical reflection allows the learner and educator to leamn from successful,
satisfying experiences and forces them to clarify assumptions and beliefs. This
orientation is helpful in developing a "working philosophy," when individuals engage
socially in talk and activity about shared problems or tasks (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999).
Some of the methods used by educators while using this approach include: (1) critical
incidents, which are brief descriptions of significant events written by learners; (2)
critical debate, a group-leamning exploration where group members are assigned position
on an issue regardless of each person's personal position and which ends up with the
declaration of a winner or looser; (3) action learning, which combines action through
proj ect work on real-life problems with reflection seminars where participants draw out
the lessons learned from their proj ect work; (4) participatory action research, an inquiry
that is initiated, focused, planned, implemented, analyzed and interpreted by a group of
learners themselves, usually with the assistance of a researcher or educator; (5) reflective
judgment, a process of identifying underlying assumptions in differing accounts of
events, narrations, videotapes, minutes of meetings and other public activities; and (6)
scenario building, where scenarios with detailed descriptions of future nature and scope
of unfolding potential events, objects and processes are created (Deshler & Kiely, 1995).
Understanding how adults learn through the five learning orientations that Merriam
and Caffarella described above is important for extension educators. According to
Deshler and Kiely (1995) it helps educators learn more about the reasons that guide their
actions and can help educators to identify their own assumptions and orientations towards
the fundamental aspects of their own practice, including: learning, learners, teachers,
adults, and the purposes of education. It also helps educators trace the origins of their
assumptions in the influences of their educational backgrounds. Moreover it expands the
professional possibilities by providing them with new choices and options for approaches
we they can experiment with in their practice. Finally being familiar with the different
orientations causes educators to reevaluate their own obj ectives, their own value
commitments, and the larger purposes of their own educational practice. Being able to
identify which approach is needed for the targeted audience they are addressing will
increase effectiveness of the educational experience.
Most adult learning for Hispanic farmworkers falls under the category of nonformal
education. This can be defined as any organized, systematic educational activity carried
on outside the framework of a formal educational system to provide selected types of
learning to particular targeted groups in the population. While formal systems are highly
organized and structured, with a fixed curricula, nonformal systems are flexible, open to
anyone, with content dedicated to concrete issues for application in day-to-day life
(Coldevin, 2003). As such, it is based on participatory and interactive approaches. The
emphasis is placed on sharing knowledge between technical experts such as researchers,
communicators, extensionists, educators and farmers. The role of the educator is to serve
as a facilitator of learning who seeks to effectively engage the learners in the experience
rather than someone who imposes what the learner must know. On the other hand the
role of the learner is to be proactive by seeking educational opportunities that are offered
to them and participate in them. According to Seevers, Graham, Gamon and Conklin
(1997) this indicates that some exchange must occur between the educator and the learner
who must be constantly in the process of communication.
According to Merriam and Caffarella (1999) two types of learning opportunities are
generally distinguished in describing nonformal education: community-based adult
learning programs and indigenous learning. Community-based adult learning programs
are those that address a problem or issue important to a community. Examples of such
issues can be ensuring adequate housing and sanitary living conditions. Generally these
programs are social in scope and focus on improving some part of the community.
Educators who work with these programs believe that education and training can be a
powerful tool in assisting learners to take control over their own lives. Usually these
programs are delivered by community-based organizations who obtain resources for these
programs thru developing funding proposals.
On the other hand indigenous learning is learning linked with a culture and it
includes oral traditions and art forms such as storytelling, and traditional dance and
music. According to Brennan (1997) (as of Merriam & Caffarella, 1999) indigenous
knowledge is generally ignored and in order to recognize it a four stage process must take
place. This process consists of: (1) identifying approaches and techniques that may be
relevant to indigenous learners such as storytelling; (2) classifying these approaches and
techniques into a system that educators can relate too in a more formal setting; (3)
"advocacy for the exploration of a broader indigenous learning system;" and (4)
development of more detailed and comprehensive learning systems.
Other learning activities that fall into this category are the preservice/in-service
training activities of both government and corporate bodies and those provided by
extension services. Preservice training refers to certain educational requirements that an
employee must complete when they are hired. According to Seevers et al. (1997),
extension professionals in some states are required to go through staff orientation.
Professionals who are hired might also be required to begin their career by developing a
professional development plan which refers to personal and professional development
through in-service training and involvement in professional organizations. In-service
training programs, usually coordinated at the state level, provide the opportunity for
employees to receive training in the most current issues and methods without taking a
leave from their job (Seevers et al., 1997).
Programs. According to Merriam and Brockett (1997) a program implies a range
of activities related to and characteristic of an adult education program. A program can
be developed from different means; among these is a particular idea, interest or skill,
local issues or even the nature or mission of a centre or organization. What distinguishes
a program from other events in which learning occurs is that this type of learning is
consciously organized (Sork & Newman, 2004). According to Sork (1991) many factors
can contribute to the success or failure of a program. Educational programs are planned
to achieve learning obj ectives which involve a desired change in human capability.
However, educational and training programs for adults do not always attain the expected
obj ectives which can be due to diverse problems in the design and planning process such
as setting unclear obj ectives, miscommunication of obj ectives, unrealistic obj ectives and
ineffective instruction. Therefore organization of educational activities is important
because it allows both the learner and the educator to mutually acknowledge the
educational purpose of the activity.
There are different types of programs. According to Knox (1987) (as of Cookson,
1998), programs can be classified as: (1) literacy, which are programs of practical literacy
and basic education for adults; (2) agriculture, which are extension programs that help
farmers and farmworkers to improve their productivity and the quality of rural life; (3)
workers, which are educational programs to increase productivity and changes in the j obs
of the workers in every kind of business or industry; (4) professional-technical, which
refer to every kind of professional development and in-service training program for
scientific and technical occupations; (5) professional-others, which refer to the activities
with the purpose of continuing professional education in other kinds of occupations
which tend to be influenced by new results of scientific research; (6) secondary, which
has to do with programs to complete secondary school via part-time participation; (7)
advanced, which are programs to complete university studies via part-time for adults who
work; (8) health, these are programs for curative and preventive health for adults in rural
and urban areas; (9) family, these types of programs have to do with education in family
life and home economics; (10) personal, in reference to every kind of educational activity
related to recreation, entertainment, arts, cultural activities, personal enrichment, and
general education; and (11) citizenship, which are educational activities related to
forming community organizational leaders, solving problems, and enabling the adult
population to become better informed and actively participating citizens.
There are different program planning models that are used. Most models are built
upon Tyler 's Ba~sic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction and present program
planning as a linear process of assessing needs, setting obj ectives, organizing learning
experiences to meet the obj ectives, implementing the program, and evaluating results
(Merriam & Brockett, 1997). In practice however, these steps are not always followed.
According to Sork and Caffarella (1989) (as of Merriam & Brockett, 1997) practitioners
take shortcuts in planning in order to get the job done and/or factors that are unique to
each situation shaping the planning process.
According to Jeria (1999) the problem with adult educators in developing programs
for Hispanics is that educators usually employ top-down, authoritarian, assimilationist
models of education. Assimilation is the process by which immigrants and their
offspring adopt some values, beliefs and behaviors more characteristic of the U. S. culture
than the culture of the countries from which they or their ancestors originate (Pew
Research Center, 2005). Often, they fail to include Hispanic sociocultural factors and
other characteristics of this group such as their low educational attainment, significant
linguistic differences that exist among various Spanish-speaking groups, and different
work experiences on their countries of origin.
Materials. Both Spanish and English-language literacy levels of Hispanics are
likely to be relatively low, on average, given the relatively low level of average
education. The ability of NAWS respondents interviewed in 2001-2002, to read English
was the following: 53% could not read English "at all," 20% could read English "a little,"
6% could read "some," and only 22% said that they could read English "well" (Carroll et
al., 2005). This suggests that a high premium must be placed on developing low-literacy
materials. The low-literacy level also suggests that approaches other than, or in addition
to, written materials must be an essential element of a strategy to reach Spanish-speaking
workers (O'Connor, 2003).
Because Hispanics in the U.S. are surrounded by the English language, English
words and grammar often seep into their daily language use (Marin & VanOss Marin,
1991). Often, they mix Spanish and English words in the same sentence and borrow
English words to develop their own words. In addition, Hispanics represent different
nationalities and countries of origin, and although they all speak Spanish there are
differences in vocabulary among them. Due to these variations in the Spanish language
development of materials that adequately address language differences is needed. Also
English in itself is difficult to translate to Spanish due to its linguistic characteristics
therefore; materials should not be literally translated but adapted for use by a Spanish
Methods of delivery. Well-developed educational material is important in any
program, but by itself it does not assure that the intended audience will be reached
(National Research Council, 2003). Because learning is more effective in the learner's
native language, programs for Hispanics should be delivered in Spanish (Bairstow, Berry,
& Minar Driscoll, 2002). Delivery of educational programs which typically involves a
variety of people and methods is also crucial. Methods can include workshops, meetings,
slides, film-strips, audio-cassettes, flip-charts, video, comic books, television and radio
According to Coldevin (2003) of all the group media, however, video has emerged
as the lead medium of choice for supporting participatory training. One of the many
advantages of using video is that it allows the educator to communicate his message
quickly and effectively, while holding his viewers interest. Videos are also convenient
since they can be watched at different places and times and are also cost-effective.
Moreover, videos allow control over the message. Viewers are presented with only the
information that the educator wants them to receive, in the exact order that educators
want them to receive it (American Production Services, 2006).
Educational materials are best delivered through a trusted and trained facilitator
who can properly relate to the situation of the intended audience. Perhaps the key to the
application of learning resides in the learner' s perception of how important the new
learning is to his or her ability to work effectively in the setting where the application
must take place. Effective educators understand this, and they design programs that show
how learning can be applied, or transferred, from an "unnatural" classroom setting or
training session to the actual setting where the learner works (Kemerer, 1991).
In discussions of effective outreach programs to Hispanics in the United States a
frequently recurring theme is the importance of trust-that the only way to reach
Hispanics effectively is by first establishing a relationship of trust. Trust is important
because it allows to break down any barriers of communication between the educator and
the trainer and relaxes the group so that the group can share with the educator any
suggestions and questions about the subject covered in the program. This suggests that it
would be more effective to reach them through intermediary agencies that they trust.
Some examples would be local Hispanic community centers, churches, immigrant
advocacy organizations, non-profit worker advocates such as COSH groups (committees
on occupational safety and health), and unions (O'Connor, 2003).
According to Farner et al. (2005) despite knowing that adult education is crucial for
the Hispanic audience many institutions do not yet know how best to deliver programs to
this group. Therefore, many programs fail in achieving the learning objectives that they
aim to accomplish. As the largest adult education organization ever created, the
Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is concerned in being able to effectively develop
and deliver educational programs (Birkenholz, 1999).
The Cooperative Extension System
The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide educational network that brings
higher education into the lives of all segments of diverse populations. The Cooperative
Extension Service (CES) uses the term extension to refer to activities that extend beyond
the daytime programs serving students of traditional college age. According to
Blackburn and Forest, CES offers information and educational programs to all residents
on topics such as homemaking, agriculture, youth, the environment, public policy, and
others (as cited in Merriam & Brockett, 1997).
The Cooperative Extension System is a unique achievement in American education
(Rasmussen, 2002). In the broadest interpretation, agricultural extension provides
nonformal- agriculturally related continuing adult education- for multiple audiences:
farmers, spouses, youth, community, urban horticulturalists (continuing agricultural
education and community development) and for various purposes (including agricultural
development, community resource development, group promotion and cooperative
organizational development) (Rivera, Qamar & Crowder, 2001).
No other educational system involves so many levels that are interrelated, yet
autonomous. The Cooperative Extension System was established through legislation by
the Smith-Lever Act (1914) and designed as a partnership of the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Land-Grant universities (Seevers et al.,
1997). This partnership represents public and private interests working cooperatively at
local, state, and national levels (McKeena, 1987). According to Seevers et al. (1997)
funding for extension programs is made possible by contributions from the federal,
represented by USDA; state, represented by land-grant universities; and local
governments, represented by the county or parrish offices. In addition, these three
partners have input in program decisions. USDA establishes guidelines for programs,
determines issues or initiatives of national scope, and provides program support. State
specialists and administrators at land-grant institutions assist in determining statewide
issues and initiatives, providing training for county professionals, and conducting and
disseminating relevant research. Finally the local city/county unit plans, implements and
evaluates programs based on the needs of the local clientele (Seevers et al., 1997).
Research, teaching and extension are linked together by the Land Grant University
system (Brewer, 2003). Extension accomplishes this in part by cooperating with agencies
and institutions of federal, state and local governments and the private sector in
developing and conducting nonformal education programs (McKenna, 1987). The aim of
the Cooperative Extension System is to help people improve their lives through an
educational process which uses scientific knowledge focused on local issues and needs.
The university-based system develops programs using nonformal education through
group needs assessment at the local level (Brewer, 2003). Its educational programs are
voluntary and available to anyone who wishes to participate (Rasmussen, 2002). As a
nonformal educational delivery system that can serve as the link between people and
knowledge, extension' s main obj ective is to improve the livelihood of people by helping
them solve their own problems (Brewer, 2003).
Effective delivery methods are important to the impact of extension programs
(Israel, 1991). According to Deshler and Kiely (1995) the success of extension programs
depends not only on the quality of the content that is offered, but also on the ability of
extension educators to effectively facilitate adult learning. According to Israel (1991) in
order to be effective in reaching extension's clientele educators have to consider that they
are likely to acquire a greater benefit when information is relevant to the needs of the
audience and when detailed or individualized information is delivered appropriately.
According to Warner, Christenson, Dillman, and Salant (1996) programs to address
specialized needs and targeted toward specific audiences such as minorities, including the
Hispanic population, are just recently being designed by extension. This has to do with
the realization that the Hispanic population keeps increasing in size each year and that
this trend is expected to continue. In addition, programs designed for this population
have to do with an understanding of the role that Hispanics play in the labor force of the
U.S. Furthermore, because of low educational attainment, they are in need of educational
opportunities. However, there is little documentation that these types of programs have
been evaluated and are successful in serving the population they target (Farner et al.,
Worker Protection Standard (WPS)
Pesticide exposure is a problem that has been identified as a constant risk for farm
workers, as well as anyone else who works on a farm (Arcury, Quandt, & McCauley,
2000). Different laws and regulations have been passed in the United States throughout
the years in relation to pesticide-related occupational safety and health of workers
performing hand labor operations in fields during and after application of pesticides. The
first one of these laws was the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA) passed by the federal government in 1972. This law has been amended since
then and it has to do with requiring pesticides to be labeled. This law also created a
Restricted-Use-Pesticide (RUP) category for those pesticides posing an elevated risk to
humans and the environment (Weber et al., 2004). The most recent regulation that has
been created is the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) of 1992. The regulations covered
by the WPS are focused primarily on the technical components: application notification,
entry restrictions, personal protective equipment, decontamination sites, and emergency
assistance (Spitzer, Whitford, & Frick 1994).
The Worker Protection Standards were first issued in 1974 by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In August 21, 1992 the standard was revised
to cover "all agricultural employers whose workers perform hand labor operations in
fields, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses treated with pesticides, and handle pesticides in
these locations" (Runyan, 1993). It required all agricultural employers to be in full
compliance with this regulation on or before April 15, 1994. Additionally, owners,
operators, and their immediate family members were required to comply with the
provisions of this standard (Runyan, 1992).
Employees of agricultural operations can be classified into two categories: handlers
or workers. According to EPA (2005), an agricultural handler is anyone who mixes,
loads, applies, or performs other tasks that bring them into direct contact with pesticides.
An agricultural worker is one who performs tasks on plants (other than handler tasks)
related to the production of agricultural plants.
Under the WPS, employers must follow certain guidelines, these include: (1) to
reduce overall exposure of workers to pesticides by prohibiting handlers from exposing
workers during pesticide application, (2) to mitigate exposure by requiring
decontamination supplies and emergency assistance available, and (3) to inform workers
about pesticide hazards by requiring safety training (workers and handlers), safety
posters, access to labeling information, and access to specific information (listing of
treated areas on the establishment) (Runyan, 1992).
According to Weber et al. (2004) under FIFRA, U.S. individual states can establish
their own pesticides programs under the supervision of EPA. One agency in each state
assumes the responsibility of pesticide programs and is known as the "state lead agency"
(SLA). The SLA works in partnerships with the state land-grant universities in order to
deliver pesticide safety education programs (PSEPs) that train applicators on how to use
RUP's. These training can allow pesticide applicators to become certified after they
have demonstrated competency in the following areas: pest identification, pesticide
regulations, pesticide labels, pesticide safety, and environmental protection. Competency
in use of RUP's is assessed thru an English language pesticide applicator exam that
participants must take upon completing the PSEPs.
On the other hand, when the WPS was created it established that an agricultural
employer should provide pesticide safety training to both handlers and workers within 30
days of entering a treated area. This regulation was further amended in 1996 to maintain a
five-year pesticide-retraining interval for farmworkers and handlers, but created a five-
day grace period for the training of new workers. The WPS focuses on providing training
to non-certified employees who apply pesticides and those who work in areas where
pesticides have been applied. Therefore, many states also include the mandated WPS
farmworker training in their pesticide safety programs (Weber et al., 2004).
Materials and delivery. The WPS training must be carried out by a certified
trainer which can include: growers, employers, crew chiefs, commercial applicators,
worker advocates, extension workers and the Department of Agriculture staff (Frisk,
2000). To address adequate training EPA has prepared manuals, slide sets, videos, and
other materials designed to assist employers or trainers in complying with WPS (Runyan,
1993). Many of these materials are available through state and county offices of the
Cooperative Extension Service (Runyan, 1993). In order to be effective, the WPS
training must be presented orally in a language that handlers and workers can understand,
and must incorporate the use of appropriate visual aids, and the trainer must be available
to answer questions (Brown, 1995). However, a study conducted by Weber et al. (2004),
indicated the need among most U.S. states for Spanish language pesticide safety training
Suggestions recommended by Brown (1994) when preparing a WPS training
include: (1) knowing the WPS; (2) determining whether the audience will be worker or
handlers since the WPS differ for each of these groups; (3) selecting the training aids that
will be used; (4) becoming familiar with the language and literacy skills of the audience;
and (5) selecting a convenient time and comfortable location for the audience. Brown
also recommends that when conducting the session: (1) the obj ectives of the program
must be clearly stated; (2) that the educator must be sensitive to individuals who can not
read; and (3) trying to stimulate discussion between trainees and educators. Finally
Brown suggests that the follow-up must include: (1) questioning the audience about those
things that had helped them understand the information presented to them; and (2)
identifying methods that worked well and those that fell short.
Addressing training needs. In response to the WPS mandate, extension has
created specialized programs to address Hispanic farmworker training needs. The
University of Florida- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in December
2000 initiated a new extension farm safety education program in 11 Florida Counties:
Broward, Collier, Hendry, Hillsborough, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm
Beach, Pinellas and St. Lucie. About 500 people have completed the pesticide
certification classes and small farm workshops offered by one specialized extension agent
(Lockette, 2004). According to Lockette (2005) instruction for the pesticide certification
classes is offered in both English and Spanish. Spanish helps learners understand the
concepts better and feel comfortable, but since the test for pesticide certification classes
must be given in English, participants are also given instruction in English. Moreover,
the specialized program to address Hispanic farmworker training needs offers basic
worker safety training to farmworkers upon request of an employee, a group of
farmworkers, a community center or any other group that is concerned with the provision
of pesticide training to farmworkers. Up-to-date, about 1,500 workers have gone through
the basic worker safety training classes. Instruction for these classes is offered in Spanish
and it is generally comprised of a one-day, on the job training course. The success of
these classes is difficult to quantify since the program is fairly new although the classes
are growing in popularity with agricultural producers who want to provide training to
workers in their native language (Lockette, 2005).
In addition, in Florida in 1997, the Pesticide Surveillance Program was established.
The obj ective of the program is to effectively monitor and prevent pesticide poisoning.
The program has two main prevention and education initiatives underway. One initiative
targets farmworkers and the other one health care professionals. The farmworker
education initiative targets female farmworkers and is intended to provide information on
peticide safety and good prenatal care practice. The outreach tool is a radio soap opera in
Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Q'anj obal (a dialect spoken by indigenous Guatemalan
people). The aim of the initiative targeting health care professionals is to raise awareness
regarding pesticide poisoning prevention, recognition, management, and reporting (The
Florida Department of Health, 2004). An important outcome of the Pesticide Poisoning
Surveillance Program was a centralized reporting site of pesticide related illnesses from
multiple sources, including the County Health Departments, Florida Poison Information
Network, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and farmworker advocacy
groups (The Florida Department of Health, 2004).
In the Rocky Mountain Region, the High Plains Intermountain Center for
Agricultural Health and Safety (HI-CAHS) a National Institute for Occupational Health
(NIOSH) initiated a pesticide risk reduction program developed in a bilingual format to
reach migrant and seasonal farmworkers. An evaluation about the effectiveness of a 60
minute pesticide training program in Spanish with 152 farmworkers in Colorado was
performed in 1998. The four components that were used to evaluate the effectiveness of
the pesticide program were the following: pesticide knowledge, safety risk perception
(SRP), the Health Locus of Control (HLC) model which predicts that those individuals
taking responsibility for their own health adopt healthy habits and the Transtheoretical
model (TTM) which offers a comprehensive tool to measure progress towards the
adoption of health behaviors. These were all measured thru a pre-test and post-test.
Results from this study demonstrated that the pesticide program improved farmworkers
pesticide safety knowledge and enhanced their perception of pesticide-related risks. It
also showed that the attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge of a farmworker influence his/her
safety-related behaviors in a work environment. Overall, the study demonstrated the
effectiveness of using long-term sustained bilingual intervention programs (Vela Acosta,
et al., 2005).
Similarly, in Washington State, the Washington State Department of Agriculture
began the Farmworker Education Program. The program focuses on providing Spanish
language prelicense and worker training. The prelicense training is aimed at Hispanic
foremen and consists of six days of intensive coursework followed by a Private
Applicator exam session. The worker training courses are two-hours long and provide
general pesticide safety information. The worker training courses are attended by
farmworkers and their families (Washington State Department of Agriculture [WSDA],
In California some efforts have been done to reduce pesticide exposure among
Hispanic farmworkers. In 1994 The University of Califomnia (UC) began an Integrated
Pesticide Management (IPM) Pesticide Education Program to qualify instructors to train
pesticide handlers and agricultural fieldworkers under the provisions of the Federal
Worker Protection Standard. The Pesticide Education Program conducted train-the-
trainer programs during 1995 in Spanish language. Thirty nine of the programs were 4-
hour sessions to prepare trainers of fieldworkers. Twenty of these were conducted in
Spanish. Handler and fieldworker programs were held in Bakersfield, Fresno, Lakeport,
Pismo Beach, Salinas, Yuba City, Rohnert Park, El Centro, and Irvine. The outcome of
this program was the training of 605 instructors during the first five months of 1995 who
reported that they would be training a total of 242,347 during the same year (The Regents
of the University of Califomnia, 2003).
Another program that has been implemented in California to assist the Hispanic
farmworker population is the Migrant Farmworker 'Consej eras' Training Program. This
program trains lay health advisers (consej eras) from migrant farmworker camps to
educate farmworkers about environmental health issues of concern to them at work and at
home including pesticide safety and pesticide illness recognition thru different workshops
and distribution of educational material. The program operates in 6 migrant farmworker
camps in Northern California, in partnership with Community Medical Centers, Inc.
(formerly the Agricultural Workers' Health Clinics), the primary source of health care for
many farmworkers in this area (Boucher, 2003).
In Michigan there is also a study that was done in 1995 in an effort to explore
pesticide safety knowledge among farmworkers. The study was conducted with 188
farmworkers, most of them of Hispanic origin (99.5%), at 17 labor camps. General
knowledge was assessed in relation to the amount of training workers had been given.
Findings of the study indicate that current training programs, especially the training of
pesticide handlers, are effective in informing workers of pesticide safety. Also, those
farmworkers who had been exposed to pesticides had greater general knowledge of
pesticide safety, and finally, those farmworkers who had received some kind of training
knew more about pesticide safety than those who were not trained (Millard, Flores,
Ojeda-Macias, Medina, Olsen, & Perry, 2004).
Complying with WPS
In order to assure compliance with WPS, in the state of Florida, the agency
responsible for enforcement and compliance for pesticide-related laws is the Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services oversees the Division of Agricultural Environmental Services which includes
the Bureau of Pesticides. The Bureau of Pesticides is primarily responsible for
monitoring pesticide use in Florida, and the Agriculture and Consumer Services
Department is primarily responsible for the enforcement of the state statutes (Murphy-
Greene & Leip, 2002). As part of its responsibility of assuring compliance with
pesticide-related laws, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must
inspect workplaces to assure that recommendations that focus on diminishing farmworker
exposure to pesticides listed in the WPS such as delivery of training and use of pesticide
protective equipment (PPE) are being followed. In addition, under Florida law, F.S.
487. 159(2), physicians have an obligation to report all cases of illness or injury as a result
from exposure to pesticides to the local county Public Health Department within 48
hours. Failure in reporting these cases can result in a fine of $10,000 under Florida law,
F.S. 487.175(le) (Murphy-Greene & Leip, 2002).
According to the WPS Activity Summaries for 2003 and 2004 (as of Galloni, 2004)
the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has repeatedly found
pesticide safety violations in roughly 1 out of every 3 workplaces inspected. The most
commonly documented violations are failure to train farmworkers in pesticide safety and
failure to post required pesticide application information in a central location. Other
violations that can impact worker safety include applying pesticides at rates higher than
what is permitted by the label, not providing adequate protective equipment, and allowing
workers to enter pesticide-treated areas before it is safe. In addition, the low number of
farmworker pesticide exposure cases reported per year (18) from 1999 to 2002 thru the
Pesticide Surveillance Program in comparison to the ones reported in California (475)
support the belief of advocates that only a fraction of farmworker pesticide exposures are
reported. Many farmworkers are reluctant to report pesticide exposures for fear of losing
their j obs. Others do not report exposures because they do not know where to go or how
to make the reports (Galloni, 2004).
According to Galloni (2004) the low number of farmworker pesticide exposure
cases reported contradicts previous research conducted in Palm Beach, Indian River and
Collier counties. In these counties interviews were conducted with farmworkers and
results showed that 10 percent of them had been directly sprayed with pesticides while
working in the fields and that 64 percent of them were working while pesticides were
being applied aerially or by tractor in the adj acent fields. Moreover, nearly half (45
percent) responded they had not received pesticide safety training (Murphey-Greene &
Due to the apparent contradiction of complying with WPS, South Florida provides
a unique context from which to explore the issue of farmworker pesticide exposure and
A number of factors shape the relationship between adult education and the
Hispanic population. Such demographic characteristics as location, education, country of
origin, and language spoken at home are valuable tools in developing materials and
public health interventions to serve at-risk populations more effectively. In addition,
delivering educational programs to those of different cultures can be a challenge.
Overall, a successfully designed learning experience increases the learner's ability to gain
more knowledge of the issues that surround the learner. One of the issues facing
Hispanic farmworkers which must be addressed consists of pesticide exposure and lack
of proper training. This chapter has described what has been done as well as further
needs in the area of pesticide training to best serve the Hispanic farmworker population.
Certainly, adult education is an important component that extension and other agencies
need to use in order to effectively design and deliver educational services for this
This Chapter describes the research design, population, sample, instrumentation
and all the procedures that were followed to collect data for this study. Additionally it
also describes the process used to analyze the data that was obtained in this study.
This is a descriptive study that served to provide a systematic description of data
collected about the farmworkers experiences and perspectives about pesticide exposure
and training. Descriptive data is analyzed thru statistical calculations such as determining
the average number of occurrences or central tendencies of an event. One of its maj or
limitations is that it cannot help determine what causes a specific behavior, motivation or
In a broad sense this study used a qualitative design; however it included some
aspects of a quantitative study since it gathered limited numerical data. It can be
primarily considered qualitative since this study aims to explore and describe the issues
concerning Hispanic farmworker pesticide education training needs. This was
accomplished by exploring the perceptions of pesticide exposure, previous pesticide
training experience and preferred delivery methods and strategies for pesticide WPS
The researcher designed a structured interview guide that was administered to
Hispanic farmworkers in South Florida that contained questions addressing pesticide
exposure and training. Pesticide exposure was assessed by taking into account health
problems and laws and legal rights. Previous pesticide training experience was assessed
by asking the participants about any pesticide training they received. Similarly preferred
delivery methods was assessed by asking participants information about their desired way
of obtaining pesticide education. Additionally, a description of the demographic
background of the target group was performed.
Population and Sample
The population for the current study was Hispanic farmworkers in two South
Florida counties. The counties selected for this study were Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.
The farmworker population belonging to the Redland Migrant Christian Association
(RMCA) centers included in this study is estimated to be (n=1,040) and (n=750)
respectively (C. Asuaje, personal communication, November 2, 2006). These estimates
were developed based on the interaction between a specialized extension agent in
pesticide education and the RMCA centers. Miami-Dade County was selected for this
study because it has a stable population of migrant and seasonal farmworkers as well as a
large concentration of Hispanic population. Palm Beach was selected for this study
because it is the county with the largest number of agricultural workers in Florida.
For this study, a farmworker is described as an individual whose main occupation
is in horticultural field-based agriculture (including nursery operations and greenhouse
activities). The sample for this study consists of Hispanic farmworkers (n=5 1) belonging
to six RMCA centers (South Dade center, Everglade I, Everglade II and Chappy Pro in
Miami-Dade County and O'Brien and Delray Beach in Palm Beach County).
RMCA centers were chosen for this study since RMCA is one of the largest
community-based organizations serving the farmworker community in Florida. Its
purpose is to promote the welfare of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, the rural poor,
and their families in 20 Florida counties. It is the largest non-profit child-care provider in
the state. Therefore, RMCA centers have access to the farmworker population year-
round which is an important component that has been recognized by different studies as a
critical factor that must be taken into account when doing research with this population
(Villarejo, 2003; Murphy-Green & Leip, 2002; Marin & VanOss Marin, 1991).
Doing research with the Hispanic population is more difficult than when dealing
with other ethnic or racial groups for a variety of reasons. Demographic information
about Hispanics in general and, in particular, about the communities in which they live at
times is not available or is outdated. Another reason is the concern that providing
personal information may place some individuals at risk, particularly when the issues are
perceived as sensitive or highly personal (for example some fear that releasing
immigration information could be used against an undocumented individual and/or his
employers by the Immigration and Naturalization Service) (Marin & VanOss Marin,
1991). Another reason for the difficulty of doing research with this population is the
busy schedules of Hispanic farmworkers. Because of their generally low socioeconomic
status, many minority individuals may work more hours than nonminority persons, work
two jobs, or have more difficult home situations which limits their availability for
participating in research proj ects.
Other than accessing the farmworker population, another factor that influenced the
decision of working with RMCA centers for this research was the connections that the
Extension Agent who collaborated with this research had with the organization by having
previously worked successfully with RMCA on different projects. It has been
acknowledged that cooperation in research efforts can be obtained more easily when a
study has the sponsorship of individuals or institutions that in the past have shown
concern for the welfare of the members of the community (Marin & VanOss Marin,
The decision of selecting to work with RMCA centers in order to access the
Hispanic farmworker population influenced the sampling technique that was used for this
research which was accidental sampling. Accidental sampling is a technique that
involves using available cases for a study when the enumeration of the population is
difficult such as interviewing volunteers in survey research (Ary, Jacobs & Razavieh,
Participants were selected with the help of three RMCA centers where the
interviews were conducted. The selection of the farmworkers was based on the following
characteristics that were elected by the researcher and the extension agent who
collaborated in the study: (1) Hispanic, (2) male or female that had been employed in
agriculture within the past 12 months, (3) who was 18 years of age or older, and (4) who
was not a member of a family that was already participating in the study.
Volunteers for this study were recruited by asking farmworkers to take part in this
study. They were contacted by personnel from the RMCA centers who had been
provided with a list of the requirements that the researcher was seeking that the potential
participants needed to have in order to take part in the study. Personnel from RMCA
contacted volunteers through either word of mouth or a written notice. Those
farmworkers who could not read were asked orally if they were willing to take part in this
study and if they could actually do it. The same was true for those farmworkers who
could read except that they were given a written notice. The interview guide
administration sites were located in Homestead in Miami-Dade County (n=27) and in
Belle Glade and Delray in Palm Beach County (n=24). Fifty one Hispanic farmworkers
participated in this study.
A structured interview guide was used to record the information that was collected.
The interview questions were designed to address preferred delivery methods of the
information, demographics, education and recommendations for pesticide training. The
questionnaire was designed based on an instrument used by a previous study on
environmental justice conducted with farmworkers in Palm Beach and Indian River
Counties in Florida by Murphy (1997).
The interview guide consisted of four sections (See Appendix A). The first section
was designed to collect data about pesticide exposure. In this section farmworkers were
asked to provide information regarding previous and present experiences with exposure
while taking into account laws and regulations that deal with this issue. This section was
comprised of eighteen different questions. The first two questions were designed to
gather information about the farms and types of crops where farmworkers were
employed. Questions three to eleven were designed to assess the perceptions of
farmworkers regarding pesticide exposure and their views regarding the ways in which
they could have been exposed to pesticides and possible consequences of pesticide
exposure. Questions twelve to sixteen were designed to collect information regarding use
of preventive measures in order to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure. Questions
seventeen and eighteen were designed to gather information regarding the views of
farmworkers about pesticide exposure at home.
The second section of the interview guide contained four questions pertaining to
previous pesticide training experience. This set of questions were utilized to gather
information about training needs for this population and the perceived value of pesticide
training. This section included one question that distinguished individuals that had
taken previous pesticide training from those who had not in order to uncover training
needs. The next question in this section was designed for those farmworkers who had
taken pesticide training. This was focused on gathering information regarding the
methods that were used and their perceived value to deliver the educational content of the
training. The third question in this section was for those farmworkers who had not taken
pesticide training with an intention to collect information about the reasons for this lack
of pesticide training. The last question of this section was designed to obtain information
about the views from all farmworkers about the importance of participating in pesticide
The third set of questions seeked to gather information about preferred delivery
methods of pesticide training. This was done by asking farmworkers nine questions
about specific things that could make them feel comfortable when receiving pesticide
training in order to increase their participation and that can allow pesticide educators to
design better targeted programs.
The last set of questions was designed to collect information regarding the
demographics of the population. In this section farmworkers were asked to provide
information regarding their origin, their involvement in agricultural related activities in
the U.S., their age, their education level and language spoken.
Expert Panel, Pilot Study, Institutional Review Board (IRB)
Prior to conducting the pilot study, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of
University of Florida reviewed and approved the instrument used in this study on April
10, 2006 under the protocol number (2006-U-232). The interview guide was later
modified by the researcher in response to the Eindings from the pilot study. The
instrument was sent once again to IRB for approval and it was reapproved on May 24,
A panel of four people examined and approved the Einal questionnaire. The panel
was composed of two people who deliver pesticide training, one person who is an adult
educator and one researcher. Additionally, the instrument was translated and adapted
into Spanish (Appendix B) which was revised by an expert in the subject. In order to
identify any flaws and misunderstanding in wording of the questions the interview guide
was Hield tested. This was achieved by conducting a pilot study at one north Florida farm
with eight Hispanic farmworkers. Participants were interviewed using the instrument
which had twenty four closed- and seven open-ended questions that addressed pesticide
exposure, previous pesticide training experience, preferred delivery methods of pesticide
education and demographic information. Additionally participants were asked to provide
feedback about the instrument. Their feedback and suggestions were used to improve
and make additional revisions to the Einal questionnaire.
In this study both having a panel examine the questionnaire prior to its
implementation and pre-testing the instrument were designed to address face validity.
According to Ary, Jacobs and Razavieh (2002) face validity is concerned with the extent
to which the contents of a questionnaire look like they are measuring what they are
supposed to measure. One way of dealing with face validity is by having competent
colleagues who are familiar with the purpose of the questionnaire examine the items to
judge whether they are appropriate for measuring what they are supposed to measure and
whether they are a representative sample of the behavior domain under investigation. In
this study this step was performed. In addition, two important variables that influence the
validity of a questionnaire are the importance of the topic to the respondents and
protecting the anonymity of the respondent. These two variables were also addressed in
this study by asking participants to express their perceptions about the topic in the
interview process and by informing them that their responses will remain anonymous.
Credibility, Transferability and Dependability
Three maj or aspects that must be considered in assessing the trustworthiness of
qualitative research are credibility, transferability and dependability. Credibility is the
term used to refer to the accuracy or truthfulness of the findings (Ary, Jacobs and
Razavieh, 2002). The strategy used in this study to enhance credibility was
peer/colleague examination. This strategy was performed by asking peers or colleagues
to examine the data and to comment on the plausibility of the emerging findings
(Merriam, 1995). In this study emerging findings were examined by two pesticide
extension educators who work with Hispanics in Florida.
The second aspect that was considered in this study was transferability.
Transferability refers to the degree to which the findings of a qualitative study can be
applied or generalized to other contexts or to other groups (Ary, Jacobs and Razavieh,
2002). A method to address transferability is by providing as much detail as possible
about the background of the sample that was studied. This can allow the findings of the
study to be applied to similar people, settings, and times. The researcher dealt with this
aspect by collecting information on the demographics of the farmworkers that were
The last aspect that was considered in this study was dependability. According to
Lincoln and Guba (1985) (as cited by Merriam, 1995) dependability refers to whether the
results of a study are consistent with the data collected. The logic used for selecting
people and events to observe, interview, and include in the study should be clearly
presented. The more consistent the researcher has been in this research process, the more
dependable are the results. A maj or technique for assessing dependability is audit trail
where an independent auditor reviews the activities of the researcher through the use of
written or recorded documentation.
Another aspect to consider in order to increase the transferability and dependability
of a study is the ethnicity of the interviewer/researcher. According to Marin and VanOss
Marin (1991) various researchers suggest that interviewers or researchers should be of the
same ethnicity as the respondents in order to enhance rapport and willingness to disclose
information. In this study both the researcher and collaborators where Hispanic.
The qualitative approach selected for data collection for this study was
interviewing. Interviewing is one of the most common and powerful ways in which we
try to understand other human beings (Fontana & Frey, 2000). Interviewing was selected
in this study since the population studied were Hispanic farmworkers who are likely to be
poorly educated. Poorly educated individuals may find it difficult to deal with written
materials, especially complex response scales or multiple-choice questions (Marin &
VanOss Marin, 1991). Three forms of qualitative, open-ended interviewing according to
Patton (1991) (as cited by Rubin and Babbie, 1997) are: (1) the informal conversational
interview, (2) the general interview guide approach, and (3) the standardized open-ended
interview. In this research the interview guide approach was selected as the means of
conducting field observations in order to simplify the collection and analysis of
information due to the sample size selected (n=51). This method includes the use of
interviews that are planned in advance, and are therefore more structured than informal
conversational interviews (Rubin and Babbie, 1997).
The instrument used to collect the data can be structured in different ways. When
designing the instrument, the researcher must consider how much information he/she is
able to anticipate that will emerge during the interview process about the subj ect matter
under consideration. Greater structure attempts to ensure the comparability of data across
individuals, times, settings, and researchers (Maxwell, 2005). According to Fontana &
Frey (2000) structured interviewing consists of a preestablished set of questions with
limited response categories, which reduces variation among these. Therefore, highly
structured interviews are helpful in simplifying the organization and analysis of data.
According to Rubin and Babbie (1997) the problem with using this approach is that it
interferes with the natural flow of the conversation and reduces the flexibility of the
interviewer to follow-up on unanticipated responses.
Although structured interviews seek to reduce variability among responses,
nonsampling errors can still occur in the administration process. Denzin and Lincoln
(2000) have identified three sources of error that can lead to nonsampling error. These
are the respondent behavior, the nature of the task and the interviewer. The respondent
behavior refers to the kind of error that arises from the provision of "socially desirable"
responses or from a faulty memory. For example, some individuals may be more willing
to report that they carry out "socially desirable" actions such as reading books but may
avoid reporting less desirable attitudes or behaviors such as drinking alcoholic beverages
in excess. In the study, the interviewer addressed this source of error by including open-
ended questions that served to probe other answers. The nature of the task refers to the
type of error that can happen as a result of the method of questionnaire administration or
the sequence or wording of the questions. An example of the nature of the task is a
change that the researcher can make in the order of questions during the interview. The
researcher tried to diminish this source of error by following the sequence of the
interview guide and reading the options listed as answers in the same order to all
participants. Finally the last type of error has to do with the characteristics or questioning
techniques used by the interviewer. This source of error was also addressed by the
researcher by following the sequence of the interview guide and reading the options listed
as answers in the same order to all participants.
In this study all participants were interviewed during the months of May and June,
2006 via a researcher-developed structured interview guide. The interviews were
scheduled and coordinated with the help of the specialized extension agent in charge of
Hispanic pesticide training in South Florida with the RMCA centers.
Prior to conducting the interview, the investigator briefly discussed with each
farmworker the informed consent that was provided to each participant. The main points
of this consent form were the purpose of the study, the topics that would be covered, the
length of time the interview would take, the protection of the participant' s anonymity and
confidentiality. In addition, the investigator responded to any questions asked by the
potential participant. Providing sufficient information to the participants about the
characteristics of the study, its sponsorship, the usefulness of data, and other pertinent
details facilitate the collaboration of individuals. Later, the investigator discussed with
the participant the criteria used to select participants to assure that the target population
was included in the sample. A copy of the Informed Consent was handed out to all
Interviews were administered in Spanish, and they lasted between 15 to 20 minutes.
When a participant was unable to answer a question because of language differences, or
misunderstandings, the question was read once again and rephrased in order to clarify it.
During the interviews, all responses plus any additional information provided by the
participant were recorded manually on the interview guide. No interviews were recorded
by tape since the structure interview guide was seen as good method of collecting the
The analysis used qualitative data collected through interviews to explore and
describe farm workers perceptions of pesticide education training needs. The process
used to analyze the data collected was descriptive statistics and coding. The data that was
gathered was compiled using Microsoft Excel 2003. Different responses given for both
closed-ended and short-answer questions were classified and categorized. Each response
was given a number which was then entered in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. This
spreadsheet was then exported into SPSS for Windows, version 12 which was the
program used to perform descriptive statistics. The result of this analysis was frequencies
and central-tendency measurements.
On the other hand, responses to open-ended questions were analyzed with the use
of coding. Coding is the process of combing the data for themes, ideas and categories
and then marking similar passages of text with a code label so that they can easily be
retrieved at a later stage for further comparison and analysis. Coding the data makes it
easier to search the data, to make comparisons and to identify any patterns that require
further investigation (Gibbs & Taylor, 2005). The first step that was followed was the
translation of all open-ended questions from Spanish to English. Responses were then
organized into different categories in an Excel spreadsheet according to the similarities of
the answers that were given by the farmworkers. This classification was possible with
the help of the "Pawing Technique" which consists of marking the text (by circling,
underlining, highlighting words or running colored lines down the margins) and
eyeballing or scanning the text to look for patterns and significance (Gibbs & Taylor,
2005). In this study similar responses were highlighted with a certain color which
represents a certain code. The last step that was followed in the analysis of open-ended
questions was being able to relate each code with the preceding question. Open-ended
questions primarily made reference to a response that was selected in a previous question.
This chapter has provided information about the research design, population,
sample, instrumentation, data collection and analysis used in this study. This is a
descriptive study that seeks to gather information of pesticide training needs and effective
ways to deliver that information to Hispanic farmworkers. This obj ective was
accomplished by means of interviewing 51 Hispanic farmworkers through the use of a
structured interview guide in three RMCA locations in Homestead and Palm Beach
counties. The data collected in the study was analyzed using descriptive statistics and
This chapter reports the results from 51 individual interviews. The interview guide
used was designed to collect information from Hispanic farmworkers regarding their
perceptions of pesticide exposure, previous training experience and preferred delivery
methods of pesticide education. The interview guide was structured in four different
sections. The first section was about pesticide exposure and it consisted of questions
regarding previous and present experiences with pesticide exposure while taking into
account laws and regulations that deal with this issue. The second section was about
previous pesticide training experience and it seeked to explore the training needs for this
population. The third section was about preferred delivery methods of pesticide
education in order to allow educators to design better targeted programs. The last section
of the interview guide was designed to collect information regarding the demographics of
Results of the Interviews
Background information of the participants was gathered (Table 4-1). More than
half of the farmworkers were female (54.9%), 45.1% were male. Most of the participants
(58.8%) have been working in agricultural related activities in U.S. for more than 10
years and most of them were from Mexico (58.8%). In addition, the majority of
farmworkers were between 31 and 40 years of age (47. 1%) and between 20 and 30 years
of age (35.3%). The highest level of education that was acquired by some participants
was middle school (3 1.4%). A considerable number of farmworkers mentioned having
no formal education (15.7%). Finally participants were asked about the language that
they speak more frequently at home, and 84.3% of the workers said Spanish. In addition,
9.8% mentioned speaking Q'anj obal (a dialect of Guatemala) as their main language.
Table 4-1. Demographic profile
Variables n %
Female 28 54.9
Male 23 45.1
Number of years working in agricultural related activities in U.S. 51
> 10 30 58.8
> 5 to 10 11 21.6
>2 to 5 9 17.6
1 to 2 1 2.0
Country of Origin 51
Mexico 30 58.8
El Salvador 10 19.6
Guatemala 8 15.7
Honduras 1 2.0
Nicaragua 1 2.0
United States 1 2.0
> 50 3 5.9
41 to 50 5 9.8
31 to 40 24 47.1
21 to 30 18 35.3
< 20 1 2.0
No schooling 8 15.7
1st grade-2nd grade 6 11.8
3rd gralde-4th grade 10 19.6
Middle school 16 31.4
High school 11 21.6
Language spoken at home 51
Spanish 43 84.3
English 2 3.9
Both 1 2.0
Q'aniobal 5 9.8
Hispanic farmworkers were first questioned about their perceptions about pesticide
exposure within the previous year (Table 4-2). Approximately 94% of farmworkers
reported the use of pesticides at their work places. Only a small percentage (5.9%)
reported that pesticides were not used in the crops they worked with. Over half of the
farmworkers (52.9%) perceived that they had been exposed to pesticides and 41.2% said
they had not been exposed to pesticides. Another 5.9% were not aware if they had been
exposed to pesticides.
Table 4-2. Perceptions of pesticide exposure
Variables n %
Do you know if pesticides were used on the crops you worked with in FL? 51
Yes 48 94.1
No 3 5.9
In the last year, in your opinion, were you exposed to pesticides in FL? 51
Yes 27 52.9
No 21 41.2
Don't Know 3 5.9
In addition farmworkers were questioned about pesticide poisoning within the last
year (Table 4-3). Almost 18% reported that they had been poisoned and 76.5% said they
had not been poisoned. Another 5.9% were not aware if they were poisoned by
pesticides. More than forty percent of these farmworkers (44.4%) expressed that they
had been poisoned once or twice while 22.2% of them reported being exposed six times,
22.2% every time they applied pesticides and 22.2% almost every week. The crops
farmworkers were working in while being poisoned included nursery operations (55.6%),
vegetables (33.3%) and row crops (1 1.1%). Two-thirds of the times (66.7%), these
poisonings affected other workers while 33.3% they did not affect others. Only 11.1% of
the workers reported that they had received medical assistance.
Table 4-3. Pesticide poisoning
Variables n %
In the last year, do you think that you were poisoned by pesticides in FL? 51
Yes 9 17.6
No 39 76.5
Don't Know 3 5.9
In the last year, how many times were you poisoned by pesticides in FL? 9
1-2 4 44.4
6 2 22.2
Every time they apply pesticides 2 22.2
Almost every week 2 22.2
What crop were you working with when you were poisoned? 9
Vegetables (tomato, celery, squash) 3 33.3
Nursery/green house 5 55.6
Row crop 1 11.1
Were other members of your group affected by pesticides? 9
Yes 6 66.7
No 3 33.3
Did you seek medical attention 9
Yes 1 11.1
No 8 88.9
Where did you seek medical attention?1
Hospital emergency room 1 100.0
Descriptions of the poisoning experiences that were reported by farmworkers were
mainly focused on symptoms (Table 4-4). Most workers reported suffering from a
headache, vomiting and feeling dizzy. Others said they had suffered eye and mouth
irritation, or difficulty breathing, and one case was reported where an individual lost
Table 4-4. Description of pesticide poisoning
"A drop fell into my mouth, I felt dizzy and vomited"
"I suffer from headaches frequently and in some cases I have even vomited"
"I suffered all the symptoms, I vomited, and I had a headache"
"I felt dizzy, it was the first time I was working in the fields and I was not accustomed to them"
"Eye and mouth irritation"
"Pain in my eyes, head and dizziness"
"WYhen pesticides are applied in the row before they plant, its smell makes my headache"
"I usually weed after applications have been made, so I get nasal congestion and headaches"
"I passed out, I couldn't see, I couldn't hear. Around 20 minutes after I fainted, I started hearing and
seeing again, my hands were cold and I vomited. When I felt better, I put the hoses away, I left from
the area, I took a shower and went back home"
In reference to ways in which someone can be exposed to pesticides (Table 4-5),
nearly 6% of the workers reported that they had been directly sprayed with pesticides and
94.1% reported that they had never been directly sprayed with pesticides. Another way
of being exposed to pesticides is indirectly thru pesticide drift from neighboring Hields;
72.5% of the workers reported neighboring Hields were being sprayed with pesticides
while they were working.
Table 4-5. Pesticide exposure mode
Variables n %
In the last year, have you ever been sprayed directly with pesticides in FL? 51
Yes 3 5.9
No 48 94.1
In the last year, were you in the fields in FL while pesticides were being 51
sprayed on a nearby field?
Yes 37 72.5
No 14 27.5
The frequency of pesticide applications in neighboring fields (Table 4-6) while
working was of 1-4 times per month 21.6% of the time and more than 5 times per month
54.1% of the time. Also, workers reported that applications were performed on
neighboring Hields while they were present between one to three times during a year 5.4%
of the time and between four to six times during a year 8.1% of the time. Another 10.8%
of the workers reported not being aware of the number of times during the year when
applications had taken place in neighboring Hields.
More than half of the farmworkers (52.8%) reported knowing when an application
had taken place on a field they had to enter to perform work tasks. Forty four percent of
the farmworkers reported not knowing when a field was sprayed and 2.8% reported that
sometimes they knew when a field was sprayed.
Table 4-6. Pesticide exposure in the fields
Variables n %
In the last year, how frequently have pesticides been applied in a nearby 37
field while you were working?
1-4 times per month 8 21.6
> 5 times per month 20 54.1
1-3 times per year 2 5.4
4-6 times per year 3 8.1
Doesn't know 4 10.8
In the last year, did you know upon entering a field for a work task when 37
they were last sprayed with pesticides?
Yes 20 54.1
No 16 43.2
Sometimes 1 2.7
Use of personal protection implements to cover their heads, bodies and feet from
pesticide exposure (Table 4-7) while a nearby field was being applied was also reported
by farmworkers. Almost 60% of the workers mentioned using a hat or cap, 10.8%
mentioned wearing something else to cover their heads. In addition, 29.7% mentioned
not wearing anything to cover their heads. Regarding body wear, 86.5% of the workers
mentioned wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt, 5.4% mentioned wearing long
pants and a short sleeve shirt and 8.1% mentioned wearing a coverall. More than fifty
percent (57. 1%) of the respondents reported wearing boots, 3 1.4% shoes and 1 1.4%
Table 4-7. Use of protective body wear
Variables n %
In the last year, while working on FL, what did you wear on your head? 37
Hat or cap 21 56.8
Other 5 13.5
Nothing 11 29.7
In the last year, while working on FL, what did you wear on your body? 37
Long pant & long sleeve shirt 32 86.5
Long pant & short sleeve shirt 2 5.4
Coverall 3 8.1
In the last year, while working on FL, what did you wear on your feet? 35
Boots 20 57.1
Shoes 11 31.4
Tennis shoes 4 11.4
With respect to the impact of pesticide exposure over their health (Table 4-8),
3 1.4% of the workers believed that pesticide exposure had affected their health. Almost
67% percent reported that pesticide exposure had not impacted their health and two
percent reported not knowing if it had impacted their health.
Table 4-8. Health Impact
In the last year, while working in FL, do you think pesticide exposure has 51 %
impacted your health?
Yes 16 31.4
No 34 66.7
Don't know 1 2.0
Next farmworkers who believed that pesticide exposure had been detrimental to
their health were asked to describe their beliefs regarding how pesticide exposure had
impacted their health. Descriptions that workers provided were focused on illnesses that
they and others have experienced without an apparent cause including allergies and
babies that were born with defects; on poisoning symptoms that they have experienced
including headaches and dizziness; and some mentioned consequences that they will be
able to see in the future. In addition, some farmworkers mentioned the smell of
pesticides in association to negative effects that they can cause and others mentioned the
ways how pesticides can enter the body. Some of the statements that farmworkers
mentioned are the following:
* "you can smell pesticides, they penetrate through your skin, and your eyes, then
you get sick sometimes and you don't know why"
* "Now I am alergic, before I wasn't, I sneezee, so I need to use a nasal spray and
* "you vomit, it affects your eyes, and you get skin problems"
* "the son of a farmworker was born "cross-eyed," and I have gotten sick sometimes
* "I left my job because my daughter was born with cleft palate and I still think that
it is possible that this (pesticide exposure) was the reason"
* "you can smell pesticides, I believe that as time goes by I will see its impact, not
* "Its smell is bad, I get headaches constantly and I fainted once"
Regarding a hand washing facility (Table 4-9) 84.3% of the workers reported
having access to one, 3.9% said sometimes and 11.8% said no. Farmworkers were also
asked if they were provided with time to use those facilities: 86.4% answered yes, 9. 1%
sometimes and 4.5% said no. Almost all (98%) of the farmworkers interviewed reported
having access to restroom facilities.
Table 4-9. Hand washing and restroom facilities
Variables n %
Access to hand washing facilities 51
Yes 43 84.3
No 6 11.8
Sometimes 2 3.9
Time to use hand washing facilities 44
Yes 38 86.4
No 2 4.5
Sometimes 4 9.1
Access to restroom facilities 51
Yes 50 98.0
No 1 2.0
Farmworkers were also questioned about pesticide exposure at home (Table 4-10).
First they were asked about the way in which they wash their working clothes. Most of
them (94.1%) reported washing their working clothes separate from the family
nonworking clothes. Only 5.9% reported washing their working clothes together with the
family nonworking clothes. Those workers who had children were also questioned if
they were worried about pesticide exposure affecting their children at home and 84%
answered yes, 14% no and 2% were not sure.
Table 4-10. Pesticide exposure at home
Variables n %
In the last year, while working in FL, how did you wash your clothes? 51
Together with family nonworking clothes 3 5.9
Separate from family nonworking clothes 48 94.1
Are you worried about pesticide exposure affecting your children at home? 50
Yes 42 84.0
No 7 14.0
Not sure 1 2.0
Previous Training Experience
Hispanic farmworkers were questioned about their previous training experience
(Table 4-11). Nearly 70% of them reported having ever received training regarding the
safe use of pesticides.
Table 4-11. Previous training experience
Have you ever received training regarding the safe use of pesticides? 51 %
Yes 35 68.6
No 16 31.4
Those farmworkers who reported receiving pesticide training were asked about the
person who provided it (Table 4-12). In most cases (37.8%) the farm owner or manager
provided the training, followed by the crew leader (16.2%), the extension agent (10.8%)
and 3 persons (8.1%) reported that they had received training by both the crew leader and
an extension agent.
Table 4-12. Pesticide training provider
Person who provided training 37 %
Extension agent 4 10.8
Farm owner or manager 14 37.8
Crew leader 6 16.2
Sales person 1 2.7
Community center personnel 2 5.4
Private contractor 1 2.7
OSHA personnel 1 2.7
Farm owner or manager & community center personnel 2 5.4
Farm owner or manager & extension agent 1 2.7
Extension agent & crew leader 3 8.1
Doesn't remember 2 5.4
Next farmworkers who had received training were asked about how the information
was provided to them (Table 4-13). In almost half (48.6%) of the cases, pesticide
training was delivered by using a combination of an oral intervention and a
video/DVD/slide show presentation. In 24.3% of the cases the information was provided
only by a video/DVD/slide show presentation and in 10.8% of the cases both orally and
written and by a video/DVD/slide show presentation.
Table 4-13. Approach used to deliver pesticide information
How was the information provided to you? 37 %
Orally 2 5.4
Written information 1 2.7
Video/DVD/slide show 9 24.3
Orally & video/DVD/slide show 18 48.6
Orally, written information & video/DVD/slide show 4 10.8
Written information & video/DVD/slide show 1 2.7
Orally & demonstration 1 2.7
Orally, picture based & video/DVD/slide show 1 2.7
Respondents were asked to provide information regarding their beliefs about the
method of presenting the information as being useful in helping them understand the
information. Those that had received the information orally said the method was o.k.
The person who had received the information in a written format said that the method
was useful in helping him understand the information and that through it he/she was able
to "see what could happen, and then they explained what I need to do to prevent
accidents." Most farmworkers who had received the information in a video/DVD/slide
show format said that it was a good method; however some mentioned that using another
method would probably be better. Those that had received a video/slide show/DVD
presentation plus an oral presentation explained that it was a good method, that the video
was useful in helping them see demonstrations of practices that they should be doing and
what they should not do and the consequences of such practices. In addition, most
mentioned that the oral component was helpful because "if someone is able to explain to
you then you can understand better because a video by itself is not able to answer any
questions." Similarly, those who received information in other ways mentioned that the
method used was good in helping them understand the information that was presented to
Those farmworkers who had not received pesticide training (Table 4-14) reported
that they had not received one mainly because they had never had the opportunity
(42.9%). Four of them (28.6%) said that they had not received pesticide training because
they do not work directly with pesticides, and the rest of them said it was due to other
reasons. The reasons they mentioned were not knowing about the training, not using
strong pesticides, lack of time, and feeling that they did not need one.
Table 4-14. Reason for lack of previous training
Why haven't you received training? 37 %
Never had the opportunity 6 42.9
Does not work with pesticides 4 28.6
Did not know about them 1 7.1
Does not use strong pesticide 1 7.1
Lack of time 1 7.1
Lack of time & feeling no need for it 1 7. 1
Finally all participants were questioned about their views regarding the importance
of pesticide training. All 51 farmworkers responded that pesticide training were
important. The main reason that they mentioned as to why training were important was
acquiring knowledge, mainly about the relation between pesticides and health. Some of
the statements that farmworkers said about this were the following:
* "It helps you be healthier, and you can learn about how pesticides can make you
sick, and harm your eyes and mind."
* "To learn how to protect your health."
* "Because people don't know and they can get sick, so that they are careful."
* "To know what type of pesticide is hazardous, and be able to know if its going to
* "You are oriented about what pesticides harm your health. You learn."
Another reason that was mentioned by farmworkers as to why training are
important was prevention of accidents. Also acquiring knowledge in order to know about
the consequences of using pesticides, prevention of pesticide exposure, being able to help
others, learning about the safe use of pesticides, and as a reminder of the information
were also mentioned.
Preferred Delivery Methods of Pesticide Education
Farmworkers were questioned about their preferences for receiving pesticide
training. First they were asked about the person whom they would like to provide the
training (Table 4-15). More than 30% said it should not matter who the person is as long
as he/she is knowledgeable about the subj ect. Almost 20% responded that they would
like an extension agent to provide training, 13.7% mentioned the farm owner or
manager, and 9.8% mentioned the state (EPA) personnel as the ones that should do it.
Table 4-15. Preferred provider
Person who should provide training 51 %
Extension agent 10 19.6
Farm owner or manager 7 13.7
Crew leader 2 3.9
Sales person 3 5.9
Community center personnel 1 2
State (EPA) personnel 5 9.8
Educator 1 2.0
Anyone who knows 16 31.4
Mixer 1 2.0
Farm owner/manager or crew leader 1 2.0
Farm owner or manager & extension agent 2 3.9
Sales person or state (EPA) personnel 1 2.0
Extension agent or state (EPA) personnel 1 2.0
Second farmworkers were asked about the site were they would like pesticide
training to be held (Table 4-16). More than 30% of them mentioned the community
center, more than 20% mentioned the farm, and 11.8% mentioned a farm office or indoor
facility as a good option among others. However 17.6% said they did not have any
preference for a place where training could be held. A small percentage (2%) was not
able to provide a response. The other 6% was represented by other sites or a combination
Table 4-16. Preferred sites
Site where pesticides training can be held 51 %
Extension office 2 3.9
Farm (field) 11 21.6
Farm office or indoor facility 6 11.8
Community center 16 31.4
School 2 3.9
Church 1 2.0
Any place 9 17.6
Store 1 2.0
Doesn't know 1 2.0
Farm office or community center or school 1 2.0
Extension office or community center 1 2.0
Third farmworkers were asked about their preferred method of receiving pesticide
information (Table 4-17). More than 30% of the workers reported that they would prefer
the information to be delivered in an oral way and by a video/DVD/slide show. Fourteen
percent responded that orally would be fine and 9.8% mentioned orally, written and
video/DVD/slide show as a good option. Other responses included orally and pictured
based (3.9%), written information (2%), picture based (2%), written information and
video/DVD/slide show (2%); orally, written information, picture based and video/DVD/slide
show (2%); orally, video/DVD/slide show and demonstration (2%); picture based and
video/DVD/slide show (2%), and all methods (2%).
Table 4-17. Preferred method
Method used to deliver information 51 %
Orally & video/DVD/slide show 16 31.4
Orally 14 27.5
Video/DVD/slide show 7 13.7
Orally, written information & video/DVD/slide show 5 9.8
Orally & picture based 2 3.9
Written information 1 2.0
Picture based 1 2.0
Written information & video/DVD/slide show 1 2.0
Orally, written information, picture based & video/DVD/slide show 1 2.0
Orally, video/DVD/slide show & demonstration 1 2.0
Picture based & video/DVD/slide show 1 2.0
All 1 2.0
Workers were asked about the language in which they would prefer the training to
be delivered to them (Table 4-18). Almost 80% responded Spanish, 3.9% said English
and 17.6% mentioned both languages as an option.
Table 4-18. Preferred language
Language 51 %
Spanish 40 78.4
English 2 3.9
Both 9 17.6
Workers were asked about the frequency in which they would prefer the training to
be delivered to them (Table 4-19). Over 60% (66.7%) of the workers prefer multiple
sessions, while 23.5% prefer one single training and 7.8% mentioned no preference.
Table 4-19. Preferred frequency
Frequency of training 51 %
One single training 12 23.5
Multiple sessions (Once a week for one month) 11 21.6
Multiple sessions (Once every two weeks for one month) 8 15.7
Multiple sessions (Once every month) 8 15.7
Multiple sessions (other) 7 13.7
Doesn't matter 4 7.8
Doesn't know 1 2.0
Farmworkers were also asked about the days when they preferred training to be
held (Table 4-20). Almost 30% responded that any day would be fine, 25.5% mentioned
Saturday and 23.5% mentioned Monday as a good option. Saturday was selected as a
good option because most workers have that day off and therefore they have more time to
receive training. Those that chose Monday said their selection was because it is the first
day of the week although they provided no specific reason as to why it is more
Table 4-20. Preferred day
Day of the week 51 %
Monday 12 23.5
Tuesday 2 3.9
Wednesday 1 2.0
Thursday 1 2.0
Friday 1 2.0
Saturday 13 25.5
Sunday 3 5.9
Any day 15 29.4
Any day except weekends 2 3.9
Weekends 1 2.0
Next, farmworkers were asked about the timing where they would prefer training
to be delivered to them (Table 4-21). More than half (54.9%) mentioned after work
hours as a good option in comparison to 39.2% who selected during work hours and 3.9%
selected doesn't matter and 2.0% were not able to provide an answer.
Table 4-21. Preferred timing
Work timing 51 %
During work hours 20 39.2
After work hours 28 54.9
Doesn't matter 2 3.9
Doesn't know 1 2.0
In order to obtain more detail regarding preferred timing, workers were asked about
the specific hours of the day in which they would like pesticide training to be delivered
to them (Table 4-22). Some workers (5.9%) selected 6:00 a.m. as a good hour to receive
training. Their selection was based on the belief that "you are starting your work day"
and that at that time "you are more prepared to hear." More than 20% of the workers
selected 9:00 a.m. as the best choice mainly because "You are awake." Two workers
(3.9%) selected 12:00 noon and three (5.9%) selected 3:00 p.m. as a good option. Those
that selected 3:00 p.m. mentioned almost being done with their work day as the reason of
their selection. Several (13.7%) selected 6:00 p.m. as a good hour to receive training;
their preference was based on their own convenience. Other options were also mentioned
by workers in the morning (7.8%), in the afternoon (23.5%) and in the evening (2.0%).
Some workers also mentioned any time as an option (9.8%) and others were not able to
provide a specific hour.
Table 4-22. Preferred hours
flour 51 Vo
6:00 a.m. 3 5.9
9:00 a.m. 12 23.5
12:00 noon 2 3.9
3:00 p.m. 3 5.9
6:00 p.m. 7 13.7
Other (morning) 4 7.8
Other (afternoon) 12 23.5
Other (evening) 1 2.0
Any time 5 9.8
Does not know 2 3.9
Finally, farmworkers were asked to select three important topics of information that
they would prefer to be presented to them in training (Table 4-23). A total of 126
responses were given by the workers. The highest number of responses corresponded to
personal protection from pesticides (20.6%) and steps to follow during an emergency
situation related to pesticides (19.8%). These responses were followed by signs and
symptoms of pesticide poisoning (14.3%), types of pesticides and how they work
(11.9%), pesticide exposure at work (11.1%), pesticide exposure at home (8.7%) and all
of the above (8.7%).
Table 4-23. Preferred topics
Topics 126 %
Types of pesticides and how they work 15 11.9
How you can be exposed to pesticides at work 14 11.1
How to protect yourself from pesticides 26 20.6
Signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning 18 14.3
What to do in an emergency situation 25 19.8
Pesticide exposure at home 11 8.7
Safe use of pesticides 3 2.4
Restricted Entry Interval 1 0.8
Formulation of pesticides 1 0.8
All of the above 11 8.7
Does not know 1 0.8
Overall, the results indicate that more than half of the participants believe that they
are being exposed to pesticides at work mainly thru indirect exposure. Many
farmworkers are aware that pesticides can harm their health and some are able to describe
unpleasant experiences that they have encountered with pesticides while working in the
fields in Florida. Although many workers take measures to prevent pesticide exposure
such as wearing appropriate clothing, there are still a considerable amount of workers that
are at risk of being exposed because some farmworkers do not follow appropriate
procedures to prevent it. Most farmworkers have received pesticide training, however,
there is still a considerable number of farmworkers who have not yet received pesticide
training mainly due to lack of opportunities to do so. The preferred delivery methods of
pesticide education generally included some type of oral and/or Video/DVD/slideshow.
Farmworkers also selected delivery of training by someone who is knowledgeable about
pesticides. Finally, farmworkers favored multiple session training in Spanish language
in a site that they are familiar with.
Hispanic farmworkers have experienced pesticide exposure and pesticide training
in different ways. Their previous experiences and their current situation may have
influenced their perceptions and points of view about the need of pesticide training and
about how these training should be delivered to them. In addition it is important to
recognize that self selection might have played a role in the results of this study.
However, the extent of self selection bias is unknown in this study. The primary goal of
this study was to explore farmworkers perception of pesticide education training needs.
The focus of this study was in the following obj ectives: (1) to explore Hispanic
farmworkers perception of pesticide exposure, (2) to describe Hispanic farmworkers
previous pesticide training experiences, and, (3) to determine the preferred delivery
methods and strategies for pesticide WPS training among Hispanic farmworkers.
This chapter will first address significant results from the interviews conducted.
Next, based on the results of the study, recommendations will be offered to extension and
other organizations that provide educational services to Hispanics and to employers of
Hispanic farmworkers. Then, implications of the results for IFAS Extension will be
discussed. Finally, suggestions for future research will be given.
Demographic information provided the profile of those Hispanic farmworkers who
have connections to RMCA centers in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. As
mentioned by other authors, the maj ority of farmworkers were born in Mexico (Carroll et
al., 2005; Vela Acosta et al., 2005; Ahn, Moore & Parker, 2004; Villarejo, 2003,
Murphy-Greene & Leip, 2002) followed by workers born in Central America and the
United States. Most farmworkers have been working in agricultural related activities in
the U.S. more than ten years. Contrary to the findings of Carroll et al. (2005) that only
21% of the crop workers are female, in this study most participants were women (54.9%).
This was due in part to the sites where the interviews where held which were daycare
facilities. Because women tend to care more about the educational aspect of their
children, more women than men tend to visit RMCA facilities and were therefore
recruited. In addition self selection of participants may have influenced greater female
contribution in this study. Most farmworkers were relatively young (82.4%) between 21
and 40 years of age. This is similar to the findings of Murphy-Greene and Leip (2002)
where 77% of farmworkers were between 21 and 40 years of age. Carroll et al. (2005)
found that the average age of farmworkers was 33 years.
Regarding education, farmworkers interviewed varied in their levels of education
between 1st grade to high school. A considerable number of workers (15.7%) had no
schooling which is higher than the percentage of never attended school category reported
by NAWS (3%) (Carroll et al., 2005). Also high school competition was higher than the
percentage reported by NAWS by nearly 4%. However, none of the participants reported
completing formal education beyond high school which was reported to be of 5% by
NAWS (Carroll et al., 2005). Also, most workers (84.3%) reported speaking Spanish at
home which is similar to the findings of Carroll et al. (2005) where Spanish was reported
to be the predominant native language of 81% of the farmworkers. According to Weber
et al. (2004) understanding the educational background and language spoken by
farmworkers is important since it can make pesticide educators aware that many of them
are unable to read and comprehend complex pesticide information. Therefore it can
assist pesticide educators in designing effective methods and tools through which they
can provide simple and clear pesticide safety information. However, additional research
on literacy issues is needed.
Farmworkers differed in their perceptions and ways on how they were exposed to
pesticides in the Hields. While more than half (52.9%) believed that they had been
exposed to pesticides in Florida, 72.5% of farmworkers reported being at risk of indirect
exposure thru pesticide drift from neighboring fields. In the study by Murphy-Greene
and Leip (2002), they found that pesticide drift from neighboring Hields had affected 64%
of farmworkers in Florida. In addition, farmworkers may also be at risk of indirect
exposure due to lack of knowledge upon entering a Hield that was recently sprayed with
pesticides. Many farmworkers (43.2%) mentioned not being informed upon entering a
Hield for a work task when it was last sprayed with pesticides. Murphy-Greene and Leip
(2002) found that 82% of farmworkers did not know when the fields were last sprayed
with pesticides before they reentered the fields in Florida. This drop in percentage might
reveal that more agricultural employers involved with this study are now informing their
workers about when a restricted entry interval (REI) has been in effect in an area. Few
workers (5.9%) reported being exposed to pesticides directly. This percentage was lower
than the one reported by Murphy-Greene and Leip (2002) where 10% of farmworkers
mentioned being directly sprayed with pesticides.
When questioned about pesticide poisoning, all workers who reported that they had
experienced pesticide poisoning (17.6%), expressed suffering diverse symptoms such as
feeling dizzy, vomiting and having headaches. However, few were able to express how
this poisoning occurred. One mentioned pesticide ingestion and another mentioned
pesticide residue as the source of their poisoning. Not being able to express how
poisoning occurred may indicate that some farmworkers do not know what pesticide
poisoning is, or that they may have suffered from a pre-existing condition. Someone with
a pre-existing condition can manifest symptoms at a lower pesticide dose compared to a
young healthy individual. However, the signs and symptoms that are present should be
consistent with poisoning from the pesticide in question (Barnett & Calvert, 2006).
Workers who believed that they had been poisoned differed in the number of times
when these episodes took place and most (66.7%) reported that other workers were
affected too. Only one worker (1 1.1%) of those who believed that had been poisoned
mentioned seeking medical attention. Similarly, Vela Acosta et al. (2005) found that
only a small percentage (3.3%) of farmworkers sought medical attention when
experiencing pesticide exposure symptoms. Other authors have also mentioned that
despite knowing that they should notify their boss and seek medical attention,
farmworkers would rather take some other action such as resting, bathing, or taking over-
the-counter medicine (Elmore & Arcury, 2001). According to Villarejo (2003), a study
undertaken in California, found that farmworkers appear to access healthcare services
only when absolutely necessary, which might be due to lack of health insurance
protection. The downside of a farmworker that claims that he has been poisoned and who
does not seek medical attention is that his case is left undocumented and he cannot assure
that he was really poisoned. A licensed health care professional can document based on
obj ective findings (signs) that can be observed and described through a physical exam or
the physical findings section of a medical record, or acute poisoning reporting form how
was an individual affected by pesticide exposure (Barnett & Calvert, 2006).
Most workers (66.7%) believed that pesticide exposure had not impacted their
health. However, those who believed that pesticides had affected their health (31.4%)
mentioned suffering acute effects such as skin, eye, nose and mouth irritation, and
allergies. Others mentioned suffering from unexplained illnesses although none of them
provided a name or description of these. Two farmworkers mentioned long-term effects
they had observed on babies born with defects. Dermal and ocular routes of exposure
were also mentioned and some associated the odor (smell) of pesticides with adverse
health effects. Odor association with harmful effects of pesticides has also been reported
by other studies (Elmore & Arcury, 2001). Others could not express how pesticide
exposure had affected their health but believed that in the future they will see its
consequences. Possible pesticide health effects later on were also reported by other
studies (Elmore & Arcury, 2001)
Regarding measures taken to prevent pesticide exposure at work, most workers
were aware of the use of appropriate clothing such as wearing long pants and long sleeve
shirts (86.5%) or a coverall (8.1%), boots or shoes (88.5%) and something to cover their
heads (70.3%) to prevent dermal exposure. The findings of Murphy-Greene and Leip
(2002) were lower regarding the use of long pants and long sleeve shirts (36%) and
higher regarding use of a protective headgear (82%). Vela Acosta et al. (2005) found that
some behaviors recommended by WPS, such as wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts
were readily adopted by farmworkers. The increase on pesticide training from those
reported by Murphy-Greene and Leip (2002) might help explain the increase regarding
use of adequate clothing.
Most workers also reported having access to hand washing (84.3%) and restroom
facilities (98.0%). Murphy-Greene and Leip (2002) found that these percentages were
close to 72% and 88% respectively. This shift in numbers is able to show that more
employers have implemented these requirements. In order to prevent pesticide exposure
at home, most workers (94.1%) knew that it was important to wash their working clothes
separate from the family's nonworking clothes. This result is higher than the one found
by Spitzer, Whitford and Frick (1994) were workers generally knew "very little"
pesticide information (25% to 50% of the time) regarding washing work clothes
separately from other clothing. In general most workers who had children (84.0%) were
worried that pesticide exposure could affect their children at home.
Overall, the results of this study show that farmworkers perceive to be at high risk
of exposure to pesticides in the fields. However, it is important to recognize that the high
number of farmworkers who reported being at risk of exposure might be due to their lack
of knowledge upon what pesticide exposure is and suffering from pre-existing conditions.
Results show that workers are exposed to pesticides mainly through indirect methods.
Although no clear pattern was established in this study, dermal, ocular and respiratory
were all mentioned as routes of exposure.
Previous Training Experience
Knowing what Hispanic farmworkers desire and prefer from a WPS training
experience is important. Being able to provide an experience that is similar to what they
want could attract a greater number of farmworkers to participate in WPS training. Many
farmworkers (68.6%) reported having participated in pesticide training however a
considerable number (31.4%) had never received any training. Murphy-Greene and Leip
(2002) found that between 1997 and 1999 these percentages were 53% and 45%
respectively in Florida. This shift in number of those who have received pesticide
training shows that some progress has been made in reaching farmworkers. However, it
supports the findings of the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services
(as of Galloni, 2004) in which failure to train the workers and failure to post pesticide
safety information in a central location have been reported as top violations of the WPS.
Those who had participated in pesticide training mentioned that most of the time
(54.0%) these training were delivered by the boss (farm owner, manager or crew leader)
and they involved some sort of video/DVD/slide show presentation (83.7%). Murphy-
Greene and Leip (2002) also found that the most widely used of training was the video
(36%). Use of video was expected to be one of the main responses since other authors
had mentioned that of all group media, video is one of the leading mediums of choice to
support training due to its many advantages such as convenience to be watched at
different places (American Production Services, 2006; Coldevin, 2003). Extension
agents (10.8%) had also played an important role in the delivery of pesticides training.
Lack of previous training places farmworkers at risk of suffering from the
consequences of working around pesticides due to the fact that they lack the knowledge
to take preventive measures to reduce pesticide exposure. Main reasons mentioned for
lack of previous training was never having an opportunity to do so (42.9%) and not
working around pesticides (28.6%). Despite that a considerable number of workers had
never received pesticide training, all farmworkers believed that participating in training
was very important. They believe that training can help them acquire knowledge about
the health effects that pesticides can produce. Therefore training will also provide them
knowledge about preventive measures that they need to take in order to prevent pesticide
exposure. The knowledge acquired by workers through pesticide training will allow
them to share the information with others. Word of mouth or informal oral exchange
among co-workers has been regarded by other authors as one of the methods of educating
farmworkers about health and safety related information (National Research Council,
Preferred Delivery Methods of Pesticide Education
Many farmworkers (31.4%) mentioned not having preferences about the provider
of pesticide training as long as the trainer was someone qualified to do the j ob.
Extension agents (19.6%) and the farm owner or manager (13.7%) were also seen as
appropriate people to deliver pesticide training. These preferences probably have to do
with the need of establishing a relationship of trust or rapport between the provider of a
program and the learner. Regarding preferred sites to receive training, top responses
included community centers (31.4%), or the worksite (33.4%). Some even mentioned
that anyplace (17.6%) would be appropriate. This shows that as long as farmworkers are
familiar with the place were a training is held they will feel comfortable.
Video/DVD/slide shows (13.7%) and oral presentations (27.5%) were mentioned
separately and in combination (31.4%) as the main mediums of choice to receive
pesticide education. These results were similar to those found by Fritz, Whitford and
Frick (1994) where videos, publications, and oral communication were identified by the
workers as the best ways to teach them. The preferred language of pesticide education
was Spanish (78.4%), and this is higher than the percentage (50%) found by Fritz,
Whitford and Frick (1994). However, it is not unusual that Spanish language was chosen
since most Hispanic workers can speak only Spanish. A study that was conducted in
Florida even found that agricultural workers expressed a desire for specific Spanish
dialect pesticide safety resources (Weber et al., 2004). However providing information
and training to Hispanic farmworkers in their first language in an accurate and culturally
sensitive manner is only part of the solution (Brown, 2003). It is important to understand
that there are preventive measures that need to be taken to avoid pesticide exposure
which need to be provided by the employer such as providing personal protective
equipment and hand washing facilities.
Regarding the frequency of pesticide training most farmworkers expressed
multiple sessions (66.7%) rather than a single training (23.5%) as their preference
although the distribution of these varied. Farmworkers differed in their preferences
regarding timing of pesticide training. While a maj ority (54.9%) mentioned that they
prefer to participate in pesticide training that are held after work hours, many (39.2%)
also mentioned during work hours. Many workers (29.4%) also expressed not having a
preferred day where the training could be held and others mentioned Mondays (23.5%)
and Saturdays (25.5%). Timing during the day also varied greatly between 9:00 a.m. to
6:00 p.m. Many workers mentioned 9:00 a.m. (23.5%), an equal percentage of workers
mentioned afternoons (other than 12:00 noon, 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.) and 13.6%
mentioned 6:00 p.m. These responses were based on the day of the week when they can
have time to participate in a training.
Finally, farmworkers were questioned about topics that should be covered during
pesticide training. Workers mentioned some of the information that the WPS states that
must be covered in a training designed for agricultural workers. Responses included (1)
an explanation of the WPS requirements designed to protect workers, (2) emergency first
aid for pesticide injuries, (3) signs and symptoms of common types of pesticide
poisoning, (4) where and in what form pesticides may be encountered during work
activities, and, (5) pesticide exposure at home. Topics selected by the farmworkers show
that they are mainly concerned about protecting themselves from pesticide exposure at
work and identifying and learning about what should be done in case of pesticide
poisoning. Farmworkers are also concerned about learning more about pesticides that
can be found at work and protecting their families and themselves from pesticide
exposure at home.
The following set of recommendations is targeted to extension and other
organizations that provide educational services to Hispanics and to employers of
Have bilingual staff (educators) with pesticide responsibilities. Having trained
bilingual staff could be very effective in order to communicate pesticide information to
Hispanic audiences. Bilingual staff could aid in introducing English words and concepts
that will allow farmworkers to understand what others (who may not speak Spanish)
mean or what a warning sign stands for regarding pesticide safety issues. Having
bilingual staff could also help farmworkers to be able to express their concerns and
provide feedback about pesticide education issues knowing that they are being
Make sure that pesticide educators are well trained and have experience.
Pesticide educators should not only be trained in technical aspects of WPS but should
have enough knowledge and/or experience in reaching Hispanic audiences. Someone
who is knowledgeable about adult education, who is able to consider learning preferences
and social issues of the Hispanic farmworker population is needed to be able to promote
effective communication. The instructor must be able to actively involve the participants
in discussion and in providing feedback which will help create a meaningful experience.
It is also important that the instructor is able to establish rapport with his audience.
Employers should make sure that new employees are trained. Providing proper
pesticide education while taking into consideration the use of a variety of learning
activities will assure that a farmworker is well trained. A training program may require
using several methods to deliver the information depending on the environment where
learning is to take place, however a video/DVD/slideshow along with an oral presentation
is suggested. Because many farmworkers move from one job to another constantly it
could be difficult for an employer to assure that the worker is well trained. In such cases,
it is suggested that crew leaders or supervisors can briefly mention to the workers
measures to be taken by them to avoid pesticide exposure before starting their j ob task.
In addition, having someone who can be always available to answer any questions
regarding pesticides and their use in the company will be beneficial. However that
person must be someone who can relate to the work performed by farmworkers and
whom workers can trust.
Employers must assure that their crew leaders are trained. Crew leaders are in
constant contact with other farmworkers due to the nature of their work. Therefore if a
crew leader has received proper training he/she can advice farmworkers who are not
following appropriate procedures to protect themselves. Following appropriate
procedures are helpful in diminishing pesticide exposure. Train-the-trainer program is an
option that can ensure that crew leaders acquire the knowledge needed regarding WPS.
Through this program they could also be certified to provide training verification cards to
the agricultural workers (FDACS, 2006).
Employers should keep records of the training of their employees. Having
records to verify the last time a farmworker participated in WPS pesticide training would
be helpful. Records could aid in assuring that the retraining interval suggested by WPS
of Hyve years is followed. In most cases developing a system to keep track of training
received by farmworkers can be considered. However due to the transitient nature of
farmworkers in some cases this would be very difficult if not impossible. Therefore, in
many cases this option will not be feasible.
Implications of the results for UF IFAS Extension
The fact that extension agents (10.8%) were mentioned as previous providers of
pesticide training shows that the role that UF IFAS Extension has played in delivering
pesticides training to Hispanic farmworkers is important. The increase in number of
farmworkers (8.8%) who stated that they would prefer pesticide training to be delivered
by an extension agent also shows that some farmworkers are also aware of the presence
of the extension agent although this study did not address whether farmworkers were
knowledgeable of UF IFAS Extension services. Other studies have found that in general
only 45% of adults are aware of extension (Warner et al., 1996). Extension agents were
ranked second in preference to deliver training following anyone who is qualified to
provide pesticide education. This confirms that despite the large number of Hispanic
farmworkers in South Florida, the specialized extension agent who delivers pesticide
education has been reaching this audience. Furthermore, the challenge for UF IFAS
Extension in the future to reach farmworkers will be greater since the number of Hispanic
farmworkers is growing each day.
One option to increase the number of Hispanic farmworkers reached by UF IFAS
Extension is to consider hiring more bilingual county agents in those counties where
Hispanic farmworker population is high. County agents with appropriate training could
aid in the delivery of WPS pesticide training. Another option would be to hold more
programs in conjunction with community centers and to make agricultural producing
companies aware of pesticide education as a service that UF IFAS Extension can provide
to them in case of a lack of qualified person to deliver WPS training in the Company.
This could include simple advertising techniques such as sending flyers and newsletters
to companies and community centers. Community centers can aid tremendously in
reaching out farmworkers in their communities and effectively distribute information
about the importance of participating in pesticide training. On the other hand, programs
offered at a company also have the advantage that farmworkers are required to attend
training assuring a good turnout.
As far as program delivery, video/DVD/slide shows and an oral presentation were
seen as appropriate by the Hispanic farmworkers who participated in this study. On the
other hand, no clear tendency was uncovered by this study in regards to pesticide training
program content, format, location, and timing. Therefore, it is suggested that the
instructor never assumes that he/she is knowledgeable of these options when designing a
training program. In order to address these points the educator must seek to obtain
feedback from farmworkers who have participated in training programs. Evaluations of
training programs, hosting focus groups or just face to face communication could aid in
assessing the appropriateness of a program. However, the obj ectives of a program should
always be considered in order to keep the program relevant. When providing a training
program at a company or worksite, gathering additional information about the
background and knowledge base of the workers would be helpful. Observations made by
the farm manager, owner and/or crew leader about the farmworkers could help the trainer
understand areas or topics in which he/she needs to focus on when delivering a program.
Directions for Future Research
More research needs to be done in regards to pesticide exposure and training.
Future research could consist of the following:
* Implementation of a community-based research design called diagnostic
evaluation. According to Arcury, Quandt and McCauley (2000) diagnostic
evaluation is an approach that has been modified by the Farmworker Health and
Safety Institute, Glassboro, New York. This approach collects information through
observation in addition to structured in-depth interviews with the help of current or
former farmworkers who act as researchers of the study. Researchers record
employer compliance of the WPS, thereby documenting farmworkers' risk for
pesticide exposure. The unit of analysis is the site or farm rather than the
individual farmworker. Therefore, multiple visits are made to each site. In
building relationships over several visits, the researcher is able to look for changes
or inconsistencies in the data collected from the site. In this way, the researcher
can confront respondents when interview and other data are in conflict, and thus
collect more accurate data (Arcury, Quandt & McCauley, 2000).
* Data from this study represents RMCA Hispanic farmworkers in Miami-Dade and
Palm Beach counties. This group of individuals is only a small segment of all
Hispanic farmworkers. Information about perceptions of pesticide exposure,
pesticide training experience and preferred delivery methods for pesticide WPS
training by a larger sample of Hispanic farmworkers would be helpful. A larger
sample would provide a more thorough representation of the needs of pesticide
* Doing similar studies like this one in future instances where the perceptions of
farmworkers about pesticide exposure and of training needs are considered could
be helpful. Studies such as this one could aid in making pesticide educators aware
of the needs of the Hispanic farmworker clientele and to get an idea if some
progress has been made or not on educating this group on pesticide safety