Nov 6, 2020
University of Florida sets online resources for non-English speaking ag workers

The fall crop season is underway in Florida and over the next few months, an increase in the farmworker population will help plant, maintain, and harvest our crops in the Sunshine State. Agriculture is an essential industry where farmworker safety is paramount to the successes underlying timely and efficient crop production activities.

For the first time, free online resources along with a required certification course are also available in Spanish, putting safety in the hands of non-English-speaking agricultural workers and pesticide handlers through a statewide program led by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension.

The program, UF/IFAS Extension Farm Labor Education, is part of UF/IFAS Extension Online Learning, a central source for online training and professional development opportunities related to agriculture, natural resources, youth and families, and communities. These continuing education and non-credit courses and educational modules are developed by UF/IFAS experts in a variety of fields throughout the year. New research-based courses and modules are continually added to the catalog of offerings.

For the first time, the Worker Protection Standard Train the Trainer (WPS TTT) certification course is available online in both English and Spanish as part of the Farm Labor Education program. This course provides the WPS TTT Certificate that is required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to train agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The program also provides a free, self-paced, online review option that allows one to download the “How to Comply” WPS documents.

The Farm Labor Education Program also offers farm safety videos. These training videos are designed to comply with safety standards and enhance agricultural worker learning experiences. Videos promoting safety with tractors, ladders, citrus harvesting, tomato production, field sanitation, food safety, and sugarcane harvesting are also available in Spanish.

“This is the first-ever online and EPA-approved Worker Protection Standard Train the Trainer certificate for Florida, which we have developed in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS),” said Cesar Asuaje, a UF/IFAS regional specialized extension agent in farm and pesticide safety based at UF/IFAS Extension Palm Beach County.

“Given COVID restrictions that prevented traditional in-person group trainings over the past seven months, the opportunity to earn the FDACS-approved WPS Train the Trainer Certificate through the on-line platform is timely,” added Asuaje. “With the crop season up and running, it is also the time when the agricultural community is challenged with getting their workforce trained up for the upcoming growing season, which makes the timing of this on-line WPS training opportunity particularly relevant.”

For more information, visit the UF/IFAS Extension Farm Labor Education site at https://ifas-farmlabor.catalog.instructure.com/ or contact Cesar Asuaje at 561-233-1727 or by email at [email protected].

Lourdes Rodriguez, University of Florida

 




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