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Hola, Farmers

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By James Roberts

Tabaco. Granero. Cosecha. These are words that local tobacco farmers may hear often when harvesting tobacco, but many may not know what they mean.

These words are Spanish for tobacco, barn and harvest. Area farmers will get a chance to learn those and other farming-related words next month when Campbellsville University Technology Training Center offers a three-night "Spanish for Farmers" class.

"The class is designed to help them with key words and phrases they can use to communicate [with their Spanish-speaking workers]," said Carol Sullivan, director of the CU Technology Training Center. "It was a class we had been considering. We felt it was a need in the community."

And it is, according to Pat Hardesty, Taylor County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

"I think it would be of benefit to farmers, especially to tobacco producers who are using migrant workers."

Typically, Hardesty said, one of the migrant workers on a farm speaks English and serves as a translator between the farmer and the rest of the workers.

"Sometimes, what can be a problem is when there is only one who can speak English and you have to break them up into crews. The English-speaking worker gets separated from the others."

Sullivan's husband, Chad, took a similar class at Farm Bureau headquarters in Louisville a few years ago.

"I think the main thing it did was teach us about the cultural differences. You don't think of the difference in culture, especially family size and the closeness of family. They really feel a responsibility to take care of everyone in their family."

Mr. Sullivan said most of the migrant workers who have helped him and his family during tobacco harvest time send almost all of their money back home to their family.

Though the one-day class didn't make Mr. Sullivan fluent in Spanish, he says it did help him on the farm.

"It really helped out by allowing me to be able to give simple directions."

If nothing else, he said, the upcoming classes should help farmers begin to communicate with their workers.

"It takes the fear out of trying," he said. "Some won't even try because they know they are going to say the words wrong the first time. Once you get started, it's easy, but you have to have that foundation and the confidence."

Taught by Clara Tangireffe, the classes are April 3, 10 and 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is $79 per person.

For more information, or to register, call 789-5400. College credit will not be earned for the class.

If successful, Mrs. Sullivan said, the class will likely be offered again.

Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.