This is part 1 of our series spotlighting this year's recipients of the Bobbi Ryder Migrant Health Champion Award. These individuals are pursuing educational opportunities that will further their work to ensure access to quality healthcare for Agricultural workers and their families. #AgWorkerAccess
Please tell us a little bit more about what you’re studying and how you are going to apply that in your work with Ag Workers?
I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health to acquire more knowledge and to strengthen my skills to continue serving our farmworker population to the best of my abilities. I believe that as a Public Health Professional with a higher level of academic preparation, I will be better equipped to contribute to our farmworker community’s health, safety and better quality of life.
What led you to become an Ag Worker Access Champion?
I strongly identify with the mission and vision of the National Center for Farmworker Health in improving the health of farmworker families by helping them to access quality healthcare. Throughout the years that I spent serving the farmworker population in southern Illinois, I lived and applied the mission and vision of the NCFH. Through the program I lead at Shawnee Health Service, the farm workers we served were able to find the needed support to meet their health care and social needs. We accomplished this by relying on the many resources offered by the NCFH such as trainings, conferences, health education material and updated data and information related to the Migrant and Seasonal population in the U.S. My program finds great support from this wonderful organization.
Why do you care about increasing access to care for Ag workers?
I believe that farm workers are key for the success of the food industry in the United States. Their skills, hard work and sacrifice are not recognized and valued enough. The low pay for their work, the poor living conditions, the high risk working conditions, the language barrier, low literacy among others, are critical barriers to access health care and social services. The Farmworkers and their families are underserved and vulnerable. They need the support from organizations and professionals like us to have a good quality of life and most of all, to live with dignity.
What advice would you give to individuals interested in/considering a career in migrant health?
If a person is passionate about empowering, advocating, serving and fighting for the rights of the underserved and vulnerable, I would say working in migrant health is the right field of work for that person. Working in the front lines, directly serving the farm workers is one of the most rewarding experiences.
How did you hear about the NCFH scholarship program?
I learned about the NCFH Scholarship at one of the Midwest Stream Forum for Agricultural Worker Health that I attended as well as through the NCFH website.
About the Bobbi Ryder Migrant Health Scholarship Award: Since 1984, NCFH has awarded more than $220,000 in scholarships to health center staff and board members to assist them in in pursuing their educational goals and to contribute to the development of the Community Health Center workforce. The award is named in honor NCFH’s former CEO and lifelong Migrant Health Champion, Bobbi Ryder.
These scholarship awards ae made possible through funds raised from sales of NCFH commemorative fine art prints and posters.
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The National Center for Farmworker Health
Improving health care access for one of America's most vulnerable populations