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2002 Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Award Recipient

Partnership for Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Health in Idaho

Represented at the CCPH conference by the following individuals (listed alphabetically):

  • Cynthia Clark , Associate Professor, Boise State University Department of Nursing
  • Justin Day, Student, Boise State University Department of Nursing
  • Nancy Otterness, Associate Professor, Boise State University Department of Nursing
  • Beverly Pressman, Manager, the Eye Associates and member of the Boise Sunrise Rotary Club
  • Marvin Ronquillo, Student, Boise State University Department of Nursing

The Partnership for Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Health in Idaho is a new and growing partnership that draws on the resources and strengths of the entire community and promotes community-building activities, in order to improve the health of migrant and seasonal farm workers in southwest Idaho. The partnership includes Boise State University, several health care agencies, civic service organizations, Idaho Migrant Council, community youth organizations, and more than a dozen local businesses. Activities include interdisciplinary service-learning, collaborative research, overall community-building, and health service events.

History of an Emerging Partnership

After returning from a goodwill visit to Mexico in December 2000, several members of the Boise Sunrise Rotary Club, including the executive director of the Family Advocacy Program, wondered if there might be a high incidence of preventable eye disorders in migrant farmers and seasonal farm workers in Idaho similar to what they had seen in the farmers of Mexico. They contacted Boise State University's Department of Nursing and suggested that students and faculty in the department of nursing assist in the planning and implementation of an eye screening project for migrant and seasonal farm workers in southwest Idaho. Several partners came together to plan and conduct four different health service events to date, with an emphasis on eye disorders and educating the farm workers about ways to prevent and treat these problems.

Promoting Student Leadership

BSU Nursing student, Marvin Ronquillo and health fair participant (with permission)

Initially, community health nursing students conducted an assessment as part of the planning process. They visited three migrant sites, interviewed key people, and assessed the health needs of the community. Findings indicated a high incidence of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Based on these results, the project expanded from assessing and educating about eye disorders to screening and educating for diabetes, high blood pressure, immunizations, dental care and nutrition.

Through student leadership, a community soccer game became the catalyst for access to health services. One student proposed that if they played soccer with the children at the health events then the parents might follow. The games also provided an opportunity for the community to interact despite language barriers. The Capitol Youth Soccer Association (CYSA) donated soccer balls and a local orthopedic physician group added 150 water bottles to be given to the children that attended the event. The idea was a success -- because the children came to the event, their parents did as well! Additional community assets were incorporated into the activities - from language and interpretation skills to tent shelters donated by local Peruvian sheepherder families.

Cultivating public support

Public response was widespread and overwhelmingly positive. For the very first time in their city's history, two civic organizations were coming together for a common goal. The Lion's Club and the Rotary Club had not worked collaboratively on a community project. As the project grew, they were joined by several other local organizations wishing to donate food, money, door prizes, safety equipment, soccer balls, and services. All partners collaborated to advertise the events, contribute financial support, share ideas, and provide an atmosphere of enthusiasm, energy, and wellness.

The Partners

Community - The community partners include a wide range of organizations and individuals, including the Eye Associates, Terry Reilly Health Clinic, Family Advocate Program, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise Sunrise Rotary Club, the Lion's Club, DeColores Headstart, the Idaho Migrant Council, and numerous grocery and retail outlets, corporate sponsors, the farm workers and their families, and several other private citizens.

Campus - The partnership has grown to include the following academic partners Boise State University's (BSU) Department of Nursing, BSU Office of Service-Learning, BSU News Services, BSU College of Health Sciences, College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), and Organizacion de Estudiantes Latinoamericanos, (OELA).

Incorporating service-learning into the education of all health professionals: The nursing leadership and community health nursing students contribute to effective broad-based community partnerships in the context of service-learning (click here to view a sample syllabus). Senior nursing leadership and community health students collaborate with their clinical preceptors to plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate the health fairs. The students work hard to provide excellent, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive health screenings. They collaborate with the Terry Reilly Health Clinic (a community and migrant health center) and private practitioners to provide follow-up care for the farmers and their families. Sophomore and junior level nursing students are also engaged in service-learning by providing health screenings. In addition, bi-lingual high school students attending the events help to translate and explain procedures.

The health fair project exemplifies and promotes effective service-learning across the university campus. Service-learning at Boise State University and therefore in their nursing leadership and community health nursing courses emphasizes civic responsibility, community partnerships, contributions through meaningful service, and reflective journaling. In addition, student leaders have encouraged other students to participate in service-learning courses and have accompanied Boise State University's Service Learning Coordinator, to speak with potential students on behalf of service-learning. In 2001, a student in the BSU Communications Department attended one of the health fair events and produced a campus-wide videotape highlighting the health fair as a service-learning experience for Boise State University and the community. Lastly, this successful service-learning project has attracted the attention of faculty across campus. Other disciplines continue to join the nursing department in service-learning projects with migrant and seasonal farm workers, including engineering and social work.

Community health event parnters Nancy Otterness (BSU Nursing Faculty), Cindy Clark and Beverly Pressman (The Eye Assoc. & Boise Rotary Club)

Building the capacity of communities and higher educational institutions to engage each other as partners: The partnership promotes civic engagement in several ways, including the manner in which the students conducted the community assessment to initiate the second year's health services event. After obtaining permission from the growers, the students went out into the fields to talk with people to get their ideas, opinions and suggestions. Civic responsibility is also promoted through students' experience with the Boise Sunrise Rotary Club. In the past, students had never attended a Rotary Club board meeting, or any other civic organization for that matter. They were pleasantly surprised by their positive experience. They saw that the members were dedicated to improving the lives of Idahoans, and were impressed with their mission of "Service Above Self". The lives of the community partners, students, faculty members, farm workers and their families have been transformed in such a way that none will ever be the same.

Promoting health through collaboration and creativity: Over 1000 migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families in Idaho received health care services during three health fairs in spring 2001. This effort was estimated to tripled in size in spring 2002 for the fourth health services event. These community events have led to concrete outcomes, including increased awareness about the health problems facing migrant and seasonal farm workers and screening and referral for specific disorders such as eye disorders, hypertension, and diabetes. One of the reasons for the partnership's success so far has been its ability to bring health care directly to people in their communities and neighborhoods.

For more information on the Partnership for Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Health in Idaho, contact Cynthia Clark, or 208-426-3589, Partnership Website:



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