The Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s annual meeting returns to the Tri-Cities this December, and the full day of Spanish-language sessions is expected to draw a crowd.
“The (Spanish language) meeting always gets full,” said Jesus Heredia, one of the session managers this year and an employee of G.S. Long Co.
Farm owners, managers and workers will take over conference rooms at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick for three days packed with speakers, demonstrations and exhibitions. The Spanish-language sessions will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ten Spanish speakers will touch on a wide range of topics, though the focus this year is pesticides. Attendees at the conference will have the opportunity to earn up to four pesticide credits.
“A lot of people have their Private Applicators License,” Heredia said. The chance to earn these required continuing education credits “attracts a lot of people to the conference,” he said. “The industry is coming out with new ways of spraying fields that use half of the pesticide that regular equipment uses.”
Ofelio Borges of the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) agrees that pesticide credits are important but said most of the attendees who make the trek to Kennewick want much more.
One big reason the Spanish-language sessions are so popular — Borges expects 800 to 900 participants — is the chance they afford everyone to learn about the newest trends in the world of agriculture. But the main draw, insisted Lorena Rodriguez, bilingual pesticide education specialist with the WSDA and session manager, happens during breaks and in hallways: People from all corners of the ag industry want to network.
Both Rodriguez and Borges explained that workers, foremen, managers and landowners will take advantage of this unique occasion to interact, exchange information and develop professional and social contacts.
Midway through the morning, Borges will give attendees something to talk about. His topic deviates from what you might expect at an ag gathering. He will take the stage to consider the importance of emotional intelligence.
“It’s a topic that is very easy to understand but not easy to apply,” Borges explained, referring to the need to control emotions in the workplace. “We Mexicans are very dramatic; we like to create drama,” he said, only half joking. Borges will offer specific steps on how to control emotions. “It’s a significant change,” he said.
Borges and Rodriguez also noted that all registered participants are welcome into every session of the three-day conference. They know that many attendees will move back and forth from the Spanish sessions to the English sessions, based on their interest in the topics being discussed.
What can attendees of the Spanish-language sessions expect? Among other speakers, they will hear Natali Ramirez of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries explain the outdoor heat exposure and wildfire smoke rules; Pablo Palmandez of Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health will talk about pesticide safety; and Bertha Clayton of the Washington State Employment Security Department will discuss the community responsible for picking the crops: migrant seasonal farmworkers. The much-anticipated winner of the WSTFA Latino Leadership Award will also be announced during the Spanish-language sessions.
In the nearby Toyota Center for the entire length of the conference — at no cost — the public is invited to explore the NW Hort Expo featuring over 175 booths where exhibitors will show off their cutting-edge agricultural technology, products and services.
For more information in Spanish about this gathering, contact the session managers: Jesus Heredia at 509-480-9860 or Lorena Rodriguez at 509-669-4739.
—by Jean Dibble