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Faculty and Staff

Interdisciplinary Grant Strengthens Agricultural Workforce

farmers working in a field

If you eat food, then you are reliant on farmworkers. Yet, farmworkers often have limited access to health care, social services, and educational resources. Applied Ecology professor, Catherine LePrevost, is leading an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional program to channel undergraduate students from agricultural backgrounds into the network of care providers, educators, and researchers working in farmworker health and safety.  

This program will enroll six students at NC State and ECU in a research and mentorship experience. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ongoing projects related to COVID-19 and digital inclusion, learning how to plan and execute research in accordance with their own goals and interests. A network of graduate students, care providers, and educators working in farmworker health will mentor these students with professional development and personal guidance.

LePrevost et al.’s previous work, “Exploring Undergraduate Research Experiences for Latinx College Students From Farmworker Families” published in the Journal of College Student Development identified the need for such a program. When interviewed, Latinx students from families with farmwork or agricultural backgrounds identified several barriers to participating in undergraduate research programs. This project incorporates their suggestions for improving academic achievement and career preparation, and serves as an example of community-centered research resulting in community-focused actions.

“Our goal is to prepare students who come from agricultural communities to be health care providers, educators, and researchers so that ultimately the workforce in agricultural health and safety better reflects the communities served,” says LePrevost.

Additionally, the project will provide 75 scholarships for students studying health and pre-health professions to complete a 40-hour medical interpreter training. Language access is a crucial part of supporting farmworker health, and this training will give students the opportunity to learn about how to work as a medical interpreter or with an interpreter in health care settings.

Individuals interested in being on a mailing list for medical interpretation offerings can sign up here.

The funded grant, “A Statewide Training Program for Farmworker Health and Safety Professionals,” is supported by the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program in the Office of Rural Health, NC DHHS, with federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

This post was originally published in Department of Applied Ecology.