Cornell Cooperative Ext-ension of Chautauqua County, in conjunction with Erie 2 Chautauqua-Catta-raugus BOCES, has a new initiative to help Spanish-speaking Chautauqua Coun-ty residents secure and retain sustainable jobs in agriculture.
Workers are receiving training in farm business operations and will be encouraged to work toward starting their own farm businesses. The project will also offer Spanish language assistance to farmers and help break down cultural barriers.
The project is a direct result of feedback from unemployed Spanish-speaking residents and a survey of farms conducted last spring to quantify the current workforce needs of agricultural producers in Chautau-qua County.
Teaching in the picture is Ginny Carlsburg, CCE Farm Business Educator.
A significant percentage of survey respondents stated it was difficult to find and maintain a quality workforce, indicating the need for a training program to prepare potential employees to enter the agricultural field. Twenty farms indicated they were willing to host on-farm trainings, demonstrations, or internships, with some also interested in participating in a Spanish language course to help facilitate communication. Spanish speaking residents stated they were eager to work on farms, but language and farm skill barriers were holding them back.
"This new project has been designed to provide English language and farming basics education, as well as connections to farms that need well trained employees who are ready and able to work," said Project Director Patty Hammond. "Classes have just begun in both Dunkirk and Jamestown. Interested workers and farmers are encouraged to contact us at 664-9502 ext. 217 for more information."
The project is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appala-chian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts. ARC's mission is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia.
ARC funds projects that address the four goals identified in the Commission's strategic plan. This project addresses the need to increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation and to strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy by enhancing workforce skill through training and education.
Each year ARC provides funding for several hundred projects in the Appalachian Region, in areas such as business development, education and job training, telecommunications, infrastructure, community development, housing, and transportation. These projects create thousands of new jobs; improve local water and sewer systems; increase school readiness; expand access to health care; assist local communities with strategic planning; and provide technical and managerial assistance to emerging businesses, as well as provide residents of Appala-chian New York access to a range of basic and advanced workforce skills development and vocational educational programs to enhance employment prospects.
Foundations in Agricul-ture English as a Second Language classes are now being conducted at the Central Avenue Community Learning Center in Dunkirk and at the Family Learning Zone in Jamestown. Area residents whose native language is Spanish are eligible to apply for enrollment. Students will learn farm-related vocabulary, English-language development, agricultural processes, and be eligible for agricultural business training.
Spring sessions will include on-site farm safety classes and equipment operation classes.
To register for classes, contact the CACLC at 366-3631, or the Family Learning Zone at 484-6190.