February 2017 Newsletter
Student Benefits from National Farmworker Jobs Program
Seasonal farm work provides tuition benefits
Ryder Clark was a college student enrolled in the Heat Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Program at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa. As a full-time college student, his schedule wasn’t flexible enough to allow him to work enough part time hours to get by. As school expenses continued to add up, he continued to fall behind. He heard about the National Farmworker Jobs Program and Proteus from a family member who had been a Proteus participant.
When he heard about the assistance that Proteus could provide, he jumped at the opportunity to find out if his agriculture work experience would qualify for assistance. He contacted a Proteus case manager to determine his eligibility. He was relieved to find out that his work as a seasonal employee pollinating seed corn with Pioneer would qualify him for assistance to help with his school expenses.
Over the course of his two year program, Ryder received tuition assistance as well as a weekly stipend for some of the time that he spent in class. Proteus was also able to assist him with gas and groceries on occasion when money was running especially short. Through the partnership of Proteus and United Migrant Opportunity Services, Inc., Ryder was able to receive money to apply toward his housing by participating in Rent Smart Training.
When asked what he appreciated most about assistance from Proteus, he said “I’d say the money for going to class and the help with groceries from time to time helped the most.”
After graduating from school, Ryder was able to find a job working at Comfort Systems USA where he is able to use the degree that he had worked so hard for. He started his career by making a great wage at $18 per hour, and is now able to support himself.
With the help of Proteus, Ryder’s life has truly changed for the better.
Proteus Attends 2017 Indiana Horticultural Congress
Event allows Proteus to interact with farmers, growers and agricultural vendors
The Indiana Horticultural Congress and Trade Show is a three-day event designed to meet the needs of growers. Information on production practices, pest and disease control, processing, marketing, agritourism, food safety, legislative/regulatory concerns and farmworker awareness is presented. The event is attended by more than 6,000 growers, service providers and workers.
Educational sessions are offered to help attendees improve agriculture business performance by providing updates on production practices, pest and disease management, food safety, produce quality, specialty crops, market opportunities and new regulatory requirements.
The trade show, featuring over 70 exhibitors, is always popular with attendees. Indiana Proteus staff were in attendance to speak with participants, network with partner organizations and promote provided services. The event provides a forum to address issues of collective concern of the horticulture industry. The annual conference is sponsored by Indiana horticultural associations, the Purdue University Departments of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Botany and Plant Pathology, Food Science, Agriculture Economics, and the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.
For more information, visit the Indiana Horticultural Congress and Trade Show for more information about this event and upcoming events.
Partnership Increases Opportunities for Clients
Working with the Nelson Center creates success
By working through the Iowa Workforce Development office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Proteus Regional Director Patrick Taggart met Offender Employment Specialist Jane Hawley. She was familiar with Proteus from years ago when her grandson was a client and received an a degree welding, the same profession he holds today. Jane works at the Nelson Center, a transitional housing unit for offenders in the Cedar Rapids area. Knowing many of the residents seeking employment come from rural areas, she began inquiring their farm work background.
Jane found that there were numerous clients who had been employed seasonally on local farms and she began referring them to Proteus. This partnership has allowed many of the clients to be directly placed into jobs they may not otherwise have been able to get. Through the assistance of Proteus, the workers were able to purchase the required tools before they were hired. While they have a rough road ahead of them, Proteus is there to help the clients get their life back in order. Having a steady source of income works great measures to ensure client success and relieves some of the stress they deal with. Proteus works to make certain clients are entering a field in which they have an interest, with the goal that they maintain their position for a long time. This focus further adds to client success in their road to a better life.
Jane has a passion for finding employment for the population she serve and she has a great knack for utilizing all the resources she can. She saw the assistance Proteus could provide and made sure the proper candidates were aware of this opportunity. She also played a major role in initiating a partnership program to help those with a criminal barrier obtain a degree or certificate through Kirkwood Community College. The program, “Training to Work Program,” focuses on providing training opportunities and helps ensure the necessary training for middle-skill positions. The program runs from short-term certificate programs to two-year degrees and offers several opportunities for Proteus and Jane to continue their partnership which was formed and to serve more clients as they better their lives.
Summer Interns Present at Midwest Conference
Poster presentation focuses on farmworker health issues
Each year Proteus operates the summer Migrant Health Program to provide health care to migrant farmworkers who come to Iowa to work in corn and soybean crop production. During the summer of 2016, Sraavya Akella and Amy Hanson, medical students at Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, worked with the program. As summer health aides, they were committed to providing the best health care to an often overlooked population. Back at school, they continued the mission and presented at the Global Health Conference Midwest on February 3. Sraavya and Amy went to the conference with the goal of promoting discussion of farmworker health issues to the medical community. The study of global health centers on research that provides insights to problems that are encountered by marginalized populations throughout the world.
In order to look at migrant health barriers in this context, the term “glocal” health is used. This term evokes the idea that barriers to health are often found by populations across the world but are also found in populations close to home, or locally.
To explain the importance of this topic, Sraavya and Amy spoke about why local issues within marginalized populations are often overlooked. Local health issues, they explain, lack the “voluntourism” element of seeing exotic new places. Additionally, local issues regarding marginalized populations often become too personal as people begin to look at how they have contributed to the issue or avoided to acknowledge it.
Through presentations developed by Sraavya and Amy, it is possible to see that one of the best ways to solve the issue is to acknowledge it and look at how health care teams can be part of the solution. They noted that barriers preventing migrant farmworkers from from receiving health care include:
- Long work hours
- Poor continuity of care
- Local organizations lack of investment in migrant health care
- Farmworkers are only present temporarily, are unseen as a population
Students like Sraavya and Amy are key in helping Proteus to spread the word about access to health care. This past summer, they were able to further develop their commitment to service. Both worked to help patients cross these barriers by working late clinic hours and being a dedicated presence helping patients get the care they deserve.
Sraavya and Amy are part of a group of former and future health aides who are part of the solution. It is exciting to see how they have worked to involve themselves and improve the world.
Interested in learning more? Proteus is hiring health care aides for the summer. Apply for a position here.