Abstract #M153

# M153
Semillas program: Engaging dairy farm workers’ youth to the dairy industry.
Maristela Rovai*1, Donna Bittiker2, Alvaro Garcia1, 1Dairy and Food Science Department, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, 24-H Program, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD.

Dairy expansion in the United States resulted in greater dependence on Latino immigrant labor. The majority of workers’ children, although born in the United States still identify with Spanish-speaking backgrounds. No data are available on how they perceive the important role their parents play in this industry. A program titled “Semillas” (Spanish for seeds; SEED) was created by South Dakota State University (SDSU) Dairy Extension with support of 4-H and the South Dakota Department of Education. It reached Latino dairy workers’ youth to help embrace their heritage, gain a sense of community, and appreciate their parents’ jobs. SEED provided a hands-on learning experience in a culturally rich environment while covering the opportunities in higher education and potential occupations within the dairy industry. SEED consisted of 2 sessions within 6 mo held at SDSU. Youth (n = 50; session 1, 23; session 2, 27) ranged from 6 to 16 year olds in both sessions. Session 1 included making piƱata, ice cream, chocolate truffles; touring the SDSU dairy manufacturing plant and campus; and learning the importance of the dairy industry. Guest speakers talked about citizenship, cultural differences, and about sense of community and belonging. During the sessions, questions about their knowledge of ethnicities and stereotypes were discussed and uncovered an alarmingly negative preconception of their own Latino heritage and US nationality. Session 2 continued to focus on embracing culture differences, and although based on dairy, it concentrated on nutritional choices and a cheese-topped pizza cooking class. Pizza is a popular food item across ethnicities and is readily adopted by diverse groups. SEED welcomed the new generation of youth, developed their cultural identity, and helped them learn the benefits of diversity. Goals included changes in cultural misconceptions through interaction, increased participation of local community activities, and gain respect for their parents’ role in the dairy industry. Feedback data showed that when youth develop respect for dairy workers they become increasingly visible and active in their communities, while increasing the job satisfaction of their parents.

Key Words: dairy worker, youth, Latino employees