Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

People have an appetite for science that improves their lives no matter what language they speak.

In the last two years, Hardee County Extension Director Jonael Bosques, John Diaz and the CAFÉ Latino team have demonstrated that more than 40,000 times. That’s the number of views of their Spanish-language videos.

Without CAFÉ Latino, one wonders where these viewers would have found information about beekeeping, pesticide safety, natural resources conservation, youth development using STEM, and other topics covered by more than 100 videos.

Hispanic Heritage month reminds us that UF/IFAS is a better organization because of the diverse backgrounds of our employees. It makes us better at reaching stakeholders of diverse backgrounds. That is, all Floridians.

Bosques draws on an Extension background in Puerto Rico to produce Spanish-language videos with a production agriculture focus. Diaz, born in Miami to Cuban refugees, has collaborated with the UF College of Medicine to organize health fairs that have provided vaccines, diabetes screening and blood tests for farmworkers. 4-H agent Laura Valencia, born in Argentina and raised in Puerto Rico, has championed Juntos 4-H to provide Hispanic high school students and their families with the support to ensure graduation and increase college access and attendance rates.

Last month we added Luz Bahder, a native of Costa Rica, to our UF/IFAS Communications public relations team. Bahder’s science background, communications expertise and ethnic background equip her to go beyond translation to tell our story with culturally specific messaging. Bahder will help us reach Spanish-language media to increase awareness of all we have to offer to ALL Floridians.

Taylor County Sea Grant agent Victor Blanco, born in Venezuela, is talking about forming a Sea Grant en Español initiative with fellow agents Armando Ubeda (Nicaragua) and Ana Zangroniz (Miami-born, Cuban descent).

And CAFÉ Latino continues to grow. Dozens of agents, Hispanic and non-Hispanic alike, from all over the state are affiliated with the movement to do a better job of reaching an estimated 5 million Spanish-speaking Floridians.

CAFÉ Latino’s team of professionals is also making all of Extension better. They have trained hundreds of colleagues in navigating cultural differences. In addition to videos, they’ve produced EDIS documents, Master Money Mentors curricula and COVID fact sheets in Spanish.

Science is a universal language, but it’s spoken in many tongues. We distinguish ourselves from other research institutions by how widely we share our discoveries (CAFÉ Latino reports that it has reached Spanish speakers in 67 Florida counties, 35 states and 18 countries). This is what a preeminent land-grant university is supposed to do.

I am grateful for the Hispanic teachers, researchers and Extension professionals who make UF/IFAS a better organization and more valuable to our citizens. Hispanic Heritage Month reminds us that our diversity of backgrounds advances our science just as our diversity of expertise does.

To Jonael, John, Laura, Victor, Armando, Ana, Luz, and all of our UF/IFAS Hispanic faculty and staff, for all the words you’ve translated I have just one: Gracias.


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Posted: September 15, 2022

Tags: Agriculture, Hispanic, Latino, Natural Resources, Spanish

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