Together: Aligning Tomorrow’s Markets and Workforce
Interview with Dr. Edward Romero, Co Founder of
The Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Conference
The 2014 Latinos in Agriculture leaders Conference takes place in Dallas, Texas on October 17-19. This will be the 4th Annual Conference. What follows is a "looking back, moving forward" republished text version of our podcast interview about the first Conference in 2011: The Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum
Agvocating future leaders
“We have to plant the seeds to be able to harvest them later”
AH: Through this forum and organization AgForLife is seeking agricultural stakeholders with a purpose to improve Latino Representation in agriculture. Please explain why this is so important.
ER:Well I think that Latinos in Agriculture is seeking to connect agricultural stakeholders with the purpose of improving Latino and Hispanic representation in agriculture. There’s several bullets that I think need to be mentioned. But the first is the talent gap in agriculture that continues to widen as the general population ages. This represents the need for talent now and in the future, and can affect agricultural sustainability.
Another thing is, Latinos represent potential talent that can be tapped into our future leaders, employees, employers, consumers in Agvocates that currently aren’t being tapped today.
AH: So why is it vital to inform industry, government, and academia of this existent, and future student, employee and consumer Latino and Hispanic pipeline?
ER:Well if agriculture is going to be sustainable long term, we have to invest in developing our future leaders. Our employers, employees, consumers; the ones that I mentioned a while ago. We also have to plant the seeds so that we can harvest them later in the future. And with jobs in the future requiring more technical and specialized skills, there’s a definite need in our future, in the Ag industry.
And I think we have to continue to educate the general public on the impact agriculture has in our lives, and on the job opportunities available. And I think we also need to do away with the misconception, and the myths about what agriculture is, and can be in the future because so many people don’t understand what agriculture is, and how broad it is.
AH: It’s so true, and there’s so many changes that are happening that it’s important that we all kind of keep up this education, don’t you think?
ER:I think so. I think it’s vitally important. I mean, after all, there’s a lot of people that don’t understand what agriculture does for our society, and for our economy. And so I think that’s important for them to understand that.
AH:Will you tell us about the post conference network that you’re going to develop?
ER:Well really our intent is to develop a concerted effort from industry, government, and education in addressing the opportunities for Latinos that represent agriculture. We also hope to work together in educating Latinos about opportunities in agriculture and really spread the word about these opportunities.
We in essence envision Latinos in agriculture as the catalyst that will begin to start the dialogue among these participants that I just mentioned in industry, government, and education so that we can address these opportunities now, and into the future.
AH:And one of the goals of the workshop is to facilitate a conversation in which the participants will have the opportunity to find out more not only about Latinos but also to find out what, as you put it, let them ask what they always wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Will you tell us more about this?
ER:Well Orlando Gill, who is the President of TCTS Global, and I, we started talking, and TCTC Global, and AgForLife are partnered together to bring this conference to the people. We basically wanted to make sure that we provided a safe place where questions, misconceptions about Latinos were addressed. And so we wanted to make sure that people felt comfortable. To be able to ask things that maybe they hadn’t asked before, and were afraid to ask.
AH:This organization and forum is meant to establish both a dialogue and a movement to address the Latino population as it relates to the impacts to the future of agriculture. Specifically, what outcomes would you like to see resulting through these activities say a year and maybe five years from now?
ER:Well that’s an interesting question because we hope that participants agree that there’s a need to continue this dialogue into the near future, and beyond. This is the first conference that we’re aware of that’s specifically addressing Latinos and agriculture together.
There’s a lot of associations, and organizations already addressing Hispanic issues or Latino issues, and other disciplines, in other areas in other industries. But this is the first where we bring industry, education, and higher Ed together to talk about specifically Latinos in the agricultural arena. And so that we hope that it’s something that they continue the dialogue. And it’s a huge undertaking to address the opportunities. And we know it will take a consistent effort to do this. And so we have to plant the seeds to be able to harvest them later. So we got to start somewhere.