The Utah Farmworker Program is reaching out to people working in agriculture throughout the state. The program is designed to help workers and their families become self-sufficient.
Janette Hernandez is the lead career advisor for the Utah Farmworker Program. The government-funded organization is seeing low numbers of workers applying for assistance. Hernandez said many workers are immigrants and are nervous about giving their names to government organizations, but she said the names do stay within the organization.
“They’re missing out on the opportunity to further their education and get more information,” Hernandez said. “If for some reason the actual farmworker doesn’t want to get in our program and they have youth that are age 14 and above, we can go ahead and help their child out with school. We try to work with the whole family.”
Some of the services the program provide include career planning, economic and labor market information, referrals to community resources, tuition assistance and emergency assistance. Hernandez said the program works well and there is one case that always reminds her of that.
“I did have one lady a couple years back where she was a farmworker and she was homeless,” Hernandez said. “Her and her daughter were living in the rescue mission here in Ogden. Her mother came in through our program and she was in the program for about three years and during those three years I worked with her one on one.”
Hernandez taught the woman how to fill out job applications, resumes and cover letters.
“Throughout the progress of those years she was in the program she was able to get a full-time job as a housekeeper and able to save up money to get out of the homeless shelter and move into her apartment, her and her daughter,” Hernandez said.
Outreach to farm and ranch owners is also an important part of the program’s goals. Hernandez said they are seeing success as they work closely with landowners.
“We can go ahead and speak to the farmer and see, ‘Is there something that you want your farmworker to be trained in that can maybe make them a little bit more money.’ If the farmers says yes then we’ll pay for that farmworker to get that skill so they can move up,” Hernandez said.
The program is available to farmworkers throughout the state of Utah.