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Graduate Student Completes Internship in Safety Training for Immigrant Dairy Workers
Contact: Gabrielle Maxey

Taylor ArnoldAugust 22, 2014 -Taylor Arnold, a master’s candidate in applied medical anthropology at the University of Memphis, completed a summer internship program that provided practical experience in occupational safety at the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC).

Arnold and Ivanna Pereyra of Salisbury University spent eight weeks in Marshfield, Wis., working primarily on Seguridad en las Lecherias, a project that is testing culturally appropriate occupational safety and health training for immigrant dairy workers.

Arnold and Pereyra came to the Farm Center as part of the Occupational Health Internship Program (OHIP), an initiative of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics. Competition for internships was keen, with just 34 positions nationwide for more than 400 applicants.

Marshfield was the only rural location among nine training sites nationwide, and Seguridad was the only project that focused specifically on agricultural safety and health among 17 projects.

“This is our first year as a host site,” said the Farm Center’s Iris Reyes, who coordinated the work of the interns, “and it has been a great opportunity for NFMC to help train the next generation of health and safety professionals.”

The design and testing of Seguridad is a collaboration of the Farm Center, Migrant Clinicians Network and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, which provides funding through a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“Our placement with NFMC and the Seguridad project gave us valuable inroads into the dairy industry,” wrote Arnold and Pereyra. “We were able to talk to numerous Hispanic workers, participate in safety training, and sit in on interviews and meetings with farm owners. Hearing multiple perspectives and having access to the various facets of the industry allowed us a much more nuanced view of the worlds of agriculture and occupational safety and health, and the complexities involved in merging the two worlds.

“We greatly appreciate this experience. It opened our eyes to the way that food is produced and the labor-intensive tasks involved. Working with both Hispanic laborers and farm owners helped put a face to the industry. We have a renewed respect for the people that work hard and take great risks in order to put food on the table.”

Arnold and Pereyra presented results of their internship during a national Occupational Health Internship Program videoconference on Aug. 7.

Arnold has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology from the University of Arkansas. His research interests include migrant health, labor, health disparity and tuberculosis.

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Last Updated: 4/15/15