March 2020 Newsletter

Categories: News

A Message from Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, CEO

Fighting COVID-19


Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel,

Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, CEO

At Proteus, we serve farmworkers in Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska and realize the importance these individuals play in feeding our country and beyond. Their work and dedication are important for an adequate food supply and ensuring a healthy economy. During these challenging times caused by COVID-19, our team continues to focus on our mission to provide farmworkers with health, educational, and economic opportunities by serving our clients and patients. The safety of farmworkers as well as our team is our number one priority right now.

As we continue this fight together, please help slow the spread of the virus by implementing these preventive actions:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Be prepared if your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed or for potential changes at your workplace.

We realize the weeks and months ahead may be filled with uncertainty, anxiety, and worry. Our team will continue to support our clients and patients, following the guidance of state and federal leaders.

One of my personal values is joy. During these difficult times, I hope you all are able to experience joy each and every day. At Proteus, we’re are doing our best to provide our employees and the farmworkers we serve, access to experience joy. We’re all in this together.

Thank you for your continued attention to this critical situation.

back to top


National Farmworker Awareness Week

March 25 – 31

Proteus is collecting long-sleeved shirts through April 3

National Farmworker Awareness Week is a week of action for students and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues on our campuses and in our communities. In 2020 we celebrate the 21st Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week to raise awareness about farmworker conditions and to honor their important contributions to us every day!FAW_Banner_2_0

During this year’s National Farmworker Awareness Week we are highlighting documentary work by Student Action with Farmworkers’ Into the Fields interns who work with farmworkers in the southeast each summer. Through oral history interviews and participatory documentary workshops, students and farmworkers share stories and learn about each others’ lives. The theme for this year’s messages is a visual alphabet made by farmworkers and students representing a word that farm work means to them.

Wednesday, March 25 | HOME | HOGAR
Thursday, March 26 EMIGRAR |  EMIGRATE
Friday, March 27 | SHADE | SOMBRA
Saturday, March 28 | BREAK | DESCANSO
Sunday, March 29 | UNITY | UNIDAD
Monday, March 30 | TRAVEL | VIAJAR
Tuesday, March 31 | GROWTH | CRECIMIENTO

back to top


Proteus Clinics Continue to Serve

Farmworkers have access to health care year-round


Matt Winkel

Matt Winkel is a Regional Director in Iowa.

Iowa is home to hundreds of agriculture workers who work seasonally or live here year-round. Many of these individuals rely on Proteus for their health care needs. They come to us for a variety of concerns, but primarily it’s for diabetes and high blood pressure treatment. We’ve found that the majority of these workers live in rural areas and face significant barriers to receiving the care they desperately need.

In Iowa, there is a surge of activity in late spring as many farmworkers are arriving in the state to work. Much planning is done to make sure Proteus health clinics are staffed adequately and able to offer services every day, if necessary. While this time of year is extremely important, it doesn’t mean that health care needs go away when the harvest is done.

Yet, providing health care doesn’t come without challenges. Our patients have limited access to transportation and many are dependent on family or friends for a ride to their appointment. And, many live in areas where health care services are limited.

Since many of the workers are not able to use vacation or sick time to visit a clinic, Proteus clinics are open after normal working  hours. Regular clinic hours are held at Proteus offices. In addition, mobile clinics are held on a regular basis across the state to serve the needs of Iowa’s farmworkers.


Proteus health care clinics provided necessary care to migrant and agriculture workers.

Language can also be a challenge. Our clinic staff is predominantly bilingual which makes educating patients on health care issues much more effective.

In Iowa, the three regions provide services to patients who need medications to treat chronic health conditions. By maintaining a supply of commonly needed medications, prescriptions can be offered at a much lower cost, which is based on a sliding fee scale.

Proteus strives to offer health care year-round by offering clinics on a regular schedule and at locations that serve the needs of our patients.

back to top


NFJP Offers Student Exciting Future

Greenhouse work experience has great benefits for Francis


Dana Cowsert

Dana Cowsert is a Case Manager in Indiana.

The National Farmworker Jobs Program provides financial assistance and support for students to be successful in their education and career training. Francis is a great example of how NFJP helped support him along the way.

Francis worked at Bennett’s Greenhouse in Lafayette, Indiana, in the afternoons and weekends during his junior and senior years of high school. He planted seeds, watered plants, cared for plants and was trained to manage the greenhouse irrigation system. Francis had plans to go to college, but when the time came he couldn’t afford the financial responsibility.


Before exiting NFJP, Francis was offered a position as a legal assistant at a law firm with clients across the state of Indiana.

Proteus case manager Dana Cowsert was able to enroll Francis in NFJP based on his work experience in the greenhouse. With support from Proteus, Francis was able to attend Ivy Tech Community College and live at home. In addition to attending class during the day, he worked before and after class, earning money so he could transfer to a four-year college and realize his dream is to become an attorney or, maybe even a judge.

Through the National Farmworker Jobs Program, Francis was able to job shadow and work with an attorney for a few weeks. This was an amazing experience for Francis and fueled his passion. He completed three semesters at Ivy Tech before transferring to Illinois State University in Bloomington.

Before exiting NFJP, Francis was offered a position as a legal assistant at a law firm with clients across the state of Indiana.

Francis’s experience shows how financial assistance and taking interest in a student can help give them the tools they need to be successful.

back to top


Farm Work Qualifies Student for NFJP

Jake has a career in agriculture


Randall Collins

Randall Collins is a Regional Director in Indiana.

While living in Fowler, Indiana, Jake was a member of the volunteer fire department. After he graduated high school, he attended Vincennes University to study fire science and safety. Scholarships helped with tuition in the beginning, but school expenses soon racked up. He lived off campus and worked when he wasn’t in class so he could pay rent and utilities.

While completing his associates in fire science and safety, Jake took several classes in agriculture. He enjoyed the classes so much that he decided to pursue a degree in agriculture. Then Jake met a Proteus case manager during a classroom presentation. Since he had done farm work in the past, he enrolled in the National Farmworker Jobs Program.

Jake advanced his career with the help of Proteus. By earning his BS in agriculture, he now has a great future.

Jake advanced his career with the help of Proteus. By earning his BS in agriculture, he now has a great future.

While in NFJP, Proteus was able to assist Jake with tuition, groceries, monthly rent and utilities. Jake also received a stipend.

As part of his education, Jake completed an internship with a Land O’ Lakes agriculture company, Winfield United, located in Minnesota. This experience opened the door for a full-time job offer with the company. Upon graduation, Jake accepted the position and moved to Minnesota.

After working in Minnesota for several months, an opportunity in Evansville, Indiana became available. Jake took the position and moved backed to Indiana. In his current role, Jake is making a great salary and has a great benefits package.

Jake is very thankful for all Proteus to help him reach his goals.

back to top