Horticultural Sciences Department

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Issue No. 599

The Vegetarian Newsletter 

A Horticultural Sciences Department Extension Publication on 
Vegetable and Fruit Crops 

Eat your Veggies and Fruits!!!!!

Publish Date: 
March 2015

Green & Growing Field Day Helps Cultivate Youth

Martha Glenn, UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County, Horticulture Agent

Crystal Snodgrass, UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County, Vegetable Agent

Manatee County has over 313,000 acres of production agriculture and ranks 7th in the state of Florida in agricultural sales.  However, an aging workforce threatens the future viability of these enterprises.  Therefore, it is vital to inspire our youth to consider careers in agriculture.  On June 27, 2014, the inaugural “Green & Growing Youth Field Day” introduced more than 25 youth ages 8-13 to the world of commercial agriculture through various educational field trips and activities designed to demonstrate that agriculture is an important and challenging career.  At the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, the youth learned about the many diverse agricultural careers by speaking with researchers and participated in a tractor safety demonstration and other hands-on activities.  The youth then toured the local Sweet Bay Nursery, where they learned about propagating, transplanting, growing, and selling native plants.  The youth also toured the Manatee County Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden, where they learned to transplant a plant liner (and got to keep the plants), discovered the art of butterfly farming, and played a variety of agriculture-themed games.  This Field Day provided a diverse group of youth from all over Manatee County with the opportunity to explore science and technology in an agricultural setting and become more prepared to work in an agricultural career.  Evaluation results showed the youth had a 39% increase in knowledge about agricultural science, a 36% increase in knowledge about the nursery business, and a 28% increase in interest in pursuing a career in agriculture.

In 2015, Green & Growing will be held on March 27. The program is modeled after last year’s program. However, since the program will be held in March, rather than June, we hope to have both ornamental and vegetable trials located at GCREC for students to tour.

599.1.1.jpgFigure 1: Participants pose after touring the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center


Figure 2: Participants visit a local nursery where the grower teaches them about native plants in the landscape. 



In 2014 UF/IFAS initiated the Certificate of Farm Labor Management.  Farm labor supervisors, who could be labor contractors, crew leaders, bus drivers or farm employees can earn the certificate by attending 8 classes and passing a test in each class. 

Wanting their employees to have the certificate, several growers have taken advantage of our program to hold trainings on their properties.  The cost per class for on-farm training is $500 per class per language, plus travel expenses. 

In one case, several people from a citrus grower had completed most of the classes at our IFAS facilities and the grower asked us to teach the remaining two or three classes on their property.     

One vegetable grower recently decided to train all their crew leaders and bus drivers on the farm, right in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year.  With classes held back to back, four or five hours per day, twice a week, 30 people completed the program in five weeks and will soon receive their Certificates of Farm Labor Management.     

Advantages to on-farm training:  

·         Less down-time because employees don’t have to leave the farm or grove

·         Key personnel remain on the property in case they are needed

·         Any number of people can attend each class, within reason.  Growers provide the training facility and any refreshments.  

·         Classes can be cancelled and rescheduled if needed due to weather emergencies, and make-up classes can be scheduled based on instructor availability. 

·         Growers may incorporate grower-specific policies and procedures into our training.  

For more information or to schedule a training, please contact Carlene Thissen, carlene@ufl.edu, 239-658-3449. 

Authors:   Thissen, C.; and F. Roka.     

Carlene Thissen and Fritz Roka work for the University of Florida at the Southwest Research and Education Center, Immokalee, FL, 239-658-3400.  carlene@ufl.edu, fmroka@ufl.edu


The Farm Labor Supervisor (FLS) Training Program is a University of Florida/IFAS Extension program. Begun in 2010, the program is coordinated by Fritz Roka and Carlene Thissen at the Southwest Florida Research & Education Center.  Over 1500 farm labor supervisory personnel have taken our classes since the start of the program. 

In 2014, the Certificate of Farm Labor Management was introduced.   The objective behind this certificate is to enhance the professional stature of those farm labor supervisors who complete the program and successfully manage farm workers in accordance with all associated rules and regulations.   To achieve the Certificate of Farm Labor Management, a total of eight (8) classes are required, and attendees must pass a test administered at the end of each class.  Three (3) of those classes must be Wage & Hour, Human Resource Compliance, and one class related to worker safety.  The remaining five classes are the choice of the individual.  Times and locations of classes offered in 2015 will be posted at www.swfrec.ifas.ufl.edu , along with registration information. 

For more information, contact Carlene Thissen, 239-658-3449, carlene@ufl.edu