Overcoming The Language Barrier

Overcoming The Language Barrier

Many greenhouse workers are of Hispanic origin and have little or no formal education in plant production. But how do you present simple yet essential knowledge of pest detection and monitoring to a staff that speaks mostly Spanish? Carlos Bográn, associate professor and Extension specialist at Texas A&M University, will lead a discussion on breaking down the language barrier at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference, and he recently shared a couple of thoughts about his topic with us.

Is there an easy way to overcome the language barrier when dealing with tasks as complex as pest detection and monitoring?

“I do not know about easy but showing the insect or disease symptom and demonstrating where and how to look for them will go a long way. It is always easier to find something if we already know what to look for and where it may be found.”

Is there a greenhouse grower in the state of Texas setting the example for implementing an effective worker education program for Hispanics? What is that grower doing that works so well?

“There are several, including Color Spot Growers, Seville Farms, Hines Horticulture-Houston, Ellison’s Greenhouses and Green Valley Growers. They’re acknowledging the benefits of entry and mid-level worker education programs in building capacity within their operations, investing the necessary time and obtaining resources and expertise from industry and university personnel to help deliver such programs.

“For example, Texas AgriLife Extension Service has established a great partnership with Syngenta to sponsor periodic educational programs at grower operations with great success.”

What suggestions do you have for growers struggling to overcome the language barrier?

“Workers will value any effort as it shows commitment to their professional development, but do not hesitate to look for outside help. Many state university Extension specialists have developed or are developing training resources in Spanish that may be available. Look for regional or national grower education events that include sessions in Spanish. Identify worker-leaders who may be able to pass down key concepts, information and techniques to the rest of the crew.”

Bográn is scheduled to present on strengthening workforce education when language is a barrier from 4:45-5:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 20. He’ll present with Jan Hall of Paul Ecke Ranch. The conference takes place from Feb. 19-21 in San Jose, Calif.

For more information on Pest Management Conference, presented by Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower, visit www.pestconference.org.

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Overcoming The Language Barrier

  1. So how do you recommend training people who have no formal education and can’t read and write Spanish much less English. My experience has been you can explain and show until you’re blue in the face and they blow you off. How do you prevent that from happening? How do you communicate to them so you don’t look foolish yet get across what you’re trying to do so that they remember it and do it?

  2. Carlos.
    We are trying to give our workforce the necessary tools to work. The better education they have the better results the Company will get. We include their opinions in monthly round tables, our processes are discussed with them since we are getting some good ideas fro them, our crew Leaders understand, read and execute our processes better since they feel thay are impostant part of the Organization. If we are able to educate our workforce we’ll keep them for more time as central part of the organization. Maybe we need to think in getting some advice from people like you Carlos.
    Congratulations Carlos for your efforts.

  3. So how do you recommend training people who have no formal education and can’t read and write Spanish much less English. My experience has been you can explain and show until you’re blue in the face and they blow you off. How do you prevent that from happening? How do you communicate to them so you don’t look foolish yet get across what you’re trying to do so that they remember it and do it?

  4. Carlos.
    We are trying to give our workforce the necessary tools to work. The better education they have the better results the Company will get. We include their opinions in monthly round tables, our processes are discussed with them since we are getting some good ideas fro them, our crew Leaders understand, read and execute our processes better since they feel thay are impostant part of the Organization. If we are able to educate our workforce we’ll keep them for more time as central part of the organization. Maybe we need to think in getting some advice from people like you Carlos.
    Congratulations Carlos for your efforts.

More From Labor...
lighting feature

June 29, 2015

Customizing Crop Foliage Color With LEDs: Red Leaf Lettuce

In the first of a four-part series highlighting the multiple uses of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), researchers share how end-of-production supplemental lighting with LEDs enhances red leaf lettuce color prior to harvesting and shipping.

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

June 29, 2015

Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement

A new organization for women in horticulture plans to take on some of the industry’s toughest marketing challenges by promoting the use of flowers and plants in everyday living.

Read More
window flower boxes

June 28, 2015

The Horticulturist And The Decorator

Allan Armitage tells shares a story about a horticulturist and a decorator to illustrate why gardening and decorating are not jobs; they are simply meant to bring pleasure.

Read More
Latest Stories
Vegetables with knife

May 14, 2015

Keeping Your Fruits And Vegetables Safe: Best Practices…

Part three of the food safety series focuses on worker hygiene, visitor policies and other biosecurity measures to safeguard the greenhouse.

Read More
american-hort-logo

April 8, 2015

AmericanHort And State Associations Advocate For Workfo…

AmericanHort, along with roughly two dozen other state association partners, joined nearly 140 organizations in a letter to the House of Representatives responding to the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.1147), which is being voted on without provisions that would ensure legal workforce options for agricultural and seasonal employers. H.R.1147 would mandate that all U.S. employers use the federal E-Verify program.

Read More

March 18, 2015

H-2B Situation Goes From Bad To Even Worse

On March 5, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will no longer accept or process H-2B labor certifications or requests for H-2B prevailing wage determinations in light of a March 4 decision. Shortly after the DOL announcement, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services followed suit, announcing it will at least temporarily cease approving visa petitions. These announcements essentially shut down the H-2B program for any company that has not completed the DHS H-2B visa petitioning process.

Read More
american-hort-logo

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Immigration — Obama Acts Without Congress

On November 20, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration policy, which are already proving to be politically divisive, and many Republican legislators say this unilaterally "poisons the well" for reform. In AmericanHort's view, that dire prediction need not be the case.

Read More
USDA Logo

November 17, 2014

USDA Names First Liaison For Veterans Interested In Agr…

The new Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison position will coordinate ongoing USDA support for active duty military and veterans.

Read More

September 26, 2014

GROW Perspective: Government Compliance Issues On The H…

Lack of focus on human resources can sink your ship

Read More

September 26, 2014

Great Things In Store For North Creek Nurseries

With a brand new greenhouse in the works and lean flow manufacturing boosting its bottom line, North Creek Nurseries ventures into a new era of growing for its customers.

Read More

September 11, 2014

Is Lean Flow The Competitive Edge You Need?

If you’re feeling worked to the bone, cramped for space or starved for profits, now is the time to look into lean flow.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Proposed Worker Protection Standard Changes You Need To…

The comment period for the proposed Worker Protection Standards ends on August 18, 2014. Find out how the proposed changes will affect your greenhouse operation.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

July 8, 2014

Consider Hiring Non-Traditional Growers To Secure Our I…

Your operation can benefit from hiring returning veterans, professionals changing careers and non-traditional students, in addition to horticulture graduates. Where have you had luck recruiting?

Read More
SAF Congressional Action Days 2014

February 20, 2014

Healthcare Law, Immigration Reform Are Top Priorities F…

The event, being held March 10-11 in Washington D.C., will bring together horticulture industry members to lobby members of Congress to revisit legislation that is important to the industry.

Read More
E-Verify

October 14, 2013

E-Verify Website Down During Government Shutdown

Recent visitors to the E-Verify website came face-to-face with the same message they see on other government sites: Closed.

Read More
Robin Siktberg

April 19, 2013

Speaking With One Voice On Immigration Reform (Opinion)

I am from a family that holds widely divergent political views that are hotly debated at gatherings. My mother was once chairwoman of our county’s Republican committee, and my father cast his first presidential vote for for Franklin Roosevelt. My husband and I have agreed not to put political signs in our yard — ever — because they would just cancel each other out. You get the picture. So, it was with a great deal of interest that I attended the Society of American Florists (SAF) Congresssional Action Days in March to see government in action. I’d been to Washington before, but only as a bystander, never as a participant. Despite the cliffs and sequesters, I still believe the process works — maybe not as well as we’d like right now, but more than ever, we, as citizens, need to make our voices heard. The briefings before the event and […]

Read More

April 16, 2013

Agriculture Agrees on Immigration Package

The struggle to achieve immigration reform took a giant step forward late Friday, when an agreement was finally reached on the framework for agriculture’s portion of the comprehensive immigration bill. The Senate “Gang of Eight” is drafting the bill, which may be introduced as early as Tuesday. “Society of American Florist (SAF) members who attended Congressional Action Days (CAD) and helped lobby for immigration reform can feel proud of their work,” says SAF’s Lin Schmale. “Keeping Congressional attention focused on floriculture’s needs will continue to be of critical importance. We are delighted that the negotiators have reached agreement, and commend them on achieving what is truly a great success!” After weeks of often very intense negotiations, agreement was reached Friday between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), of which SAF is a member, the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the key senators involved in the process, on the details of agriculture’s […]

Read More

March 7, 2013

Anyone Can Automate [opinion]

Automation of production lines and greenhouses is typically thought of as something that is only an option for bigger growers, but that's not necessarily the case. Greenhouse Grower presents some realistic automation options for every size of operation.

Read More

February 22, 2013

Common Objections To Mechanization In The Greenhouse

The first thing I would say about automation is start somewhere. Even if you go with any type of sprinkler or overhead irrigation system that is stationary and not a boom system, start somewhere. Get your feet wet. Get comfortable with the fact that you are starting to rely more on machines and not people. One of the biggest hurdles we have is with small and medium size growers. They will say, “It’s going to make my growers lazy.” My response to that is, “At the end of the day, that’s a management problem. That’s not an equipment problem.” What you need to worry about when you get new machinery is making sure everyone understands why you are buying machinery. If the boom systems or any automated overhead irrigation systems are making your growers lazy, that’s not because of the grower. That’s because the grower is worried about his job. […]

Read More
SAF Members Bring Flower Power To Capitol Hill

February 22, 2013

Immigration Reform To Help Greenhouse Labor Issues

Right now The Society of American Florists is getting ready for Congressional Action Days. We ask our members to fly into Washington, D.C., and travel around the Hill, meeting with their specific members of Congress about the issues we think are most important to the industry right now. It gives our members an opportunity to carry their messages to their members of Congress. This is really important because you can say anything in Washington as a lobbyist, but it has to be backed up by the people out there running businesses. We are grateful for the people who come in and carry that message around the Hill. It is also a great opportunity for business owners to connect with their members of Congress. Lobbying For Immigration Issues One of the issues we will be taking to the Hill this year, as we have for the past ten or more years, […]

Read More