Improving Workplace Communications: Training and Advancement Opportunities for Farmworkers

Worksite Location
CCE Cortland County - South Central New York Dairy & Field Crops
Faculty Sponsor
Mary Jo Dudley, Senior Extension Associate, Development Sociology/ Director, Cornell Farmworker Program
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Lance Compa, Senior Lecturer, Labor Relations, Law and History
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Janice Degni, Extension Associate/Area Field Crops Specialist, South Central NY (TCT) Dairy Team
Stipend Amount
$4,000
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

This project addresses the unique labor retention, communication, and training challenges on New York State dairy farms that employ Spanish-speaking farmworkers. This project has three main objectives: 1) to examine workplace challenges from both the perspectives of employers/ managers and employees 2) to identify areas of workplace strengths and areas for improvement and 3) to develop tools and approaches that will contribute to improving workplace communications and support worker training and advancement. The intern will work with faculty and extension professionals to develop highly visual training materials, including standard operating procedures (SOPs), to help increase employee performance and workplace satisfaction, and farm productivity and safety. The intended outcomes of this project are to foster improved labor relationships and performance for employer and employee resulting in improved employee retention, reduced expenses from better job performance and increases in income from milk quality premiums, and improved milk production.

Roles and Responsibilities

This internship is an excellent opportunity for a CALS student to apply what they learn in the classroom to address labor challenges on New York State dairy farms. Under the supervision and guidance of the CCE Area Extension Specialist and the Director of the Cornell Farmworker Program, student intern will gain knowledge about topics of concern on farms working to achieve improved workplace communications. Intern will collaborate on the development of appropriate visual aids to portray various aspects of farm specific SOPs. Additionally, students will assist in the development of materials and approaches of interest to farmworkers, such as farm provided housing, compensation, benefits and training opportunities.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.

Preference will be given to students with knowledge and/or interest in dairy farm production, labor relations or visual communication skills. Demonstration of ability to be a self-starter required. Knowledge of dairy science principles is highly desirable. Spanish language skills are not required but would be an additional asset.

Benefits and Skills

By the end of this internship, students will: 1) Substantially increase their abilities to conceptualize and discuss labor challenges on New York State dairy farms; 2) Design and field test educational resources with farmworkers and farmers; 3) Improve their communication skills through participating with supervisors in developing extension materials targeted for farmworkers and their employers; and 4) Assist farmworkers in exploring training and advancement opportunities.