Analyzing extension needs of the Spanish speakers in Florida

Francisco Escobedo, Miriam Wyman, Sebastian Varela, Cesar Asuaje, Henry Mayer, Mickie Swisher

Abstract


Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the United States and Florida’s largest minority group. Hispanics are also expanding into areas not previously populated by this group. While this points to growing opportunities to serve this audience, in many cases language barriers still exist, especially for recent immigrants and adults. Although many extension programs designed for Hispanics exist, little evaluation has taken place to assess their effectiveness. This study identified and assessed the need Florida extension agents have for Spanish language extension materials in natural resources and the environment. A survey was sent to University of Florida cooperative extension agents concerning perceptions and attitudes on the need, quality, and dissemination of Spanish extension materials. Results showed extension is an important information source for Hispanics after family and friends. However, extension agents and materials are not adequately prepared to outreach to this segment of the population, especially on important natural resource topics to the state, such as catastrophic events management, environmental horticulture, and arboriculture. This study shows that the need to prioritize Spanish extension outreach in Florida exists, especially in southern Florida. As Florida’s population becomes more diverse, extension needs to make sure it is not leaving any group behind.

 


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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283