Grow Your Farm Management Skills with our Spanish-First Course in March

Are you looking to gain farm management skills and advance your career?

[Vea este artículo en Español]

Our Futuro en Ag project is continuing to develop educational opportunities for Spanish-speaking and bilingual farm owners, managers, and employees in New York. The upcoming Futuro Farm Management Skills course offers professional development for Spanish-first farmers looking to increase on-farm communication and employee engagement. 

The course will be offered in Western New York on March 14-15 and will address specific challenges facing farm leaders. Our goal is to help develop participants’ confidence in managerial skills. A key element of the course involves introducing tools for the successful leadership of multicultural teams, including conflict resolution and team-building strategies.  

“Latino farmers in Western New York need training opportunities in their native language,” said Mildred Alvarado, course facilitator and Futuro en Ag project lead. “This kind of course is unique. We are able to build rapport and dive into the course content quickly because it’s in Spanish.” 

She explained that students remain motivated because the course content is informed by the participants’ interests and requests. They share what will help them become better leaders on farms and in the ag industry.

Growers Brett Kast from Kast Farms in Orleans County and Mark Lagoner from Lagoner Farms in Wayne County nominated key Latino employees for a previous Cornell Small Farms Program course and proudly accompanied them at their graduation.

“The fact of the matter is that without them we would not be able to do the hard work needed for fruit production,” said Kast and Lagoner. 

Alvarado agreed that the Latino community contributes in a big way to New York State. In the New York State apple industry alone, more than 1.2 billion pounds of apples are harvested from more than 1.6 million apple trees, and farms account for more than 55,000 acres. A huge portion of this effort is due to the massive contribution of Latino farmers, employees, and service providers who actively grow, harvest, pack, market, distribute, and export world-famous, NYS-grown apples. 

“They contribute by producing fresh, nutritious food, and they add to local economies that otherwise might not be as vibrant,” she said. “These courses have a dual purpose: they help New York farms run better, and they support Latino farmers and employees to develop their abilities and follow their dreams of being successful.”

Similarly, a January 2023 Futuro en Ag course in Suffolk County received rave reviews. The course was attended by managers, supervisors, and crew leaders of work teams at Long Island greenhouses. Participants highlighted the professionalism and warmth of the facilitators, which generated a positive learning environment. They noted an appreciation for skill-building in multicultural communication and conflict resolution. In addition, students expressed gratitude in receiving training on how to become “cultural bridges,” or proactive liaisons between employees and supervisors. 

The WNY course location for the March 14-15 dates is yet to be determined, as facilitators want to hold the course at a location proximate to the majority of participants. 

Visit the Futuro en Ag project page for more information, or reach out in English or Spanish to Tim Shenk, Bilingual Communications Specialist, at or 607-793-4969

Tim W. Shenk

Tim joined the Cornell Small Farms Program in 2023 as the Bilingual Communications Specialist. He brings expertise in Spanish language communication, journalism, research, popular education, and classroom pedagogy. Tim is responsible for the multifaceted communications strategy for the Futuro en Ag project, and supports Spanish language online and in-person education.