SERA37: Latinos in the New South

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

SERA37: Latinos in the New South

Duration: 10/01/2012 to 09/30/2017

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

The continuation of a SERA focused on implications of increasing Latino population (Cohn, 2011) in the southern region is being requested to solidify and expand ground-breaking efforts of the SERA-37 New Hispanic South. Since the initiation of the current SERA there have been at least 500 participants in a variety of activities sponsored by, or resulting from, the SERA. These range from 'traditional' training programs or conferences to the newly imagined and implemented 'Latino Domestic Immersion' staff development program, as well as multiple opportunities for distance learning. During the timeframe of the current SERA, many of our states have had to grapple with a changing and divisive political landscape which demonstrates more than ever a need for a growing body of solid research, staff education, and community building to understand changing demographics and economic and community impacts, and develop effective programming that bridges cultural differences and promotes immigrant inclusion.

Therefore the request to extend, and re-name, the SERA-37 is designed to mobilize a critical mass of land-grant faculty and colleagues outside the land-grant university to: (1) work collaboratively researching the on-going and emerging challenges and opportunities associated with fluid demographic changes related to Latino/Hispanic immigration and migration, (2) strengthen Extension outreach and public policy work being done at southern land-grant universities in regard to Latino migration and settlement, entrepreneurship, family needs and assets, community identity in shifting political contexts, and other important foci, and (3) advance the capacity of the region's land grant university system to provide timely and high quality educational programs and technical assistance activities to partner organizations and communities that wish to address in a positive and strategic manner, the diverse needs of a shifting Hispanic population.

Any future efforts will be built on the foundation of accomplishments during the first cycle of SERA-37. New publications, short articles, audio-visual media, webinars, two regional conferences, an intensive domestic immersion training program designed by training team and supported through external funds and state commitments, emerging partnerships, and a website are among the outputs of SERA37's first 5 years. The website contains resource lists compiled by SERA members, links to related websites, power point slides, exemplary program descriptions, regional conference agenda and related educational materials. These are available at and . Annual reports can be found at (See Appendix A for a listing of exemplary outputs.)

A survey of Southern Region Extension professionals' needs and perceptions regarding the Latino community was conducted by a SERA-37 work group in 2009 (Herndon, in press). Results are summarized in Appendix B.

With the exception of a couple of Extension Systems in our region, generally speaking there is a lack of state-based systematically responsive initiatives. The SERA-37 provides a means to bring Extension and Research professionals together to share ideas and collaborate on projects that might not otherwise be undertaken at the state or local level. The region is still evolving socially, politically, and economically in its response to and understanding of Latino culture and immigration issues. A collective effort is needed to understand these phenomena and translate research and promising practices into effective programs, engagement strategies, and positive community development, as well as organizational and professional development priorities. The need for this collective efforts is reflected in the invitation to SERA-37 to participate in Cooperative Extension's GPS: Guiding and Producing Solutions, held in Fort Worth, Texas on August 22-26, 2011 , i.e. the 2011 Joint PLN, AEA, and ASRED Meeting. At the same meeting the SERA was invited to present the Farmworker Health, Safety, and Management workshop and the leadership requested a proposed outline for a Southern Region SERA-37 Conference in 2013.


  1. Expand information exchange among land-grant representatives from the South dealing with key issues germane to changing Latino demographics in the region and the evidence-based programs promising practices effective in engaging Latino audiences and developing welcoming communities.
  2. Expand, and share, the current catalogue of research and Extension resources existing within the region; link to resources nationally related to effective work with Hispanic families
  3. Identify existing gaps in the research and/or Extension resources that focus on concerns of Latinos and/or concerns of organizations and communities responding to changing Latino demographics. Create a network of persons available to facilitate new research and programs that support community and civic understanding, inclusive of students and faculty outside traditional Extension program areas.
  4. Disseminate a series of information briefs that profile the demographic, educational, social, and economic changes associated with the regions Hispanic population and outline the important implications associated with these trends and responsive program options
  5. Design and sponsor staff development program(s) that expand the capacity of Extension faculty in the region to work with, and deliver educational programs targeted to, the South's now multi-generational as well as newly arriving Hispanic population

Procedures and Activities

1. Hold every-other-month conference calls with SERA-37 leadership team (e.g. SERA officers,SRDC representative, workgroup representatives, and conference planning committee chair. Hold quarterly conversations for entire SERA-37 membership by conference calls and/or web-based conferencing. As budgets permit, host annual or every other year face-to-face meetings for the entire SERA membership. Expand the use of social media, such as creation of a Facebook page, to facilitate communication. A graduate student will be sought to help with FB page creation and maintenance. Begin mmediately.

2. Update the current website and place all website materials so they are directly accessible via the SRDC web portal. Identify graduate student(s) to work on the web-site and update statistical information, educational modules/products, and policy resources of value to the SERA team and external consumers. Fall 2012 to identify student(s) and begin updating. From there on-going.

3. Facilitate joint research across land-grant schools. Facilitate joint inquiry with scholars outside the Land Grant system but with similar research interests. Facilitate participatory research with communities. Work with the Southern Rural Development Center affiliated faculty and staff to identify funding sources and facilitate proposal development for extramural funding. This work will happen within a structure of working groups. One facilitated sharing opportunity quarterly

4. Information sharing of research and evidence based programs and emerging initiatives will proceed through the SRDCs publication channels , the SRDC website, and a series of approximately 4 webinars per year, beginning early fall 2012. Pending webinars include: domestic immersion  a new cultural competency training approach, Pesticides and Farmworker Health Toolkit, programs for Latino students school success, and Working towards Healthier Futures for Latino Children and their Families.

5. Capacity-building is an urgent need throughout the region. (See Appendix C for a list of specific channels under consideration for this CRITICAL responsibility of the SERA-37.)

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • An emerging body of solid assessment data available to colleagues and communities across the south re: needs and capacity of staff, needs and assets of communities, and tools for assessment in bi-lingual and bi-cultural contexts assistive for staff training and civic engagement partnerships
  • Multi-disciplinary team of LGU Research and Extension faculty familiar with each other's work and able to quickly respond to SERA-37 related RFPs leading to new grants and research dollars
  • Improved programming capacity based on knowledge shared through conferences, webinars, and coordinated technical assistance to field staff, e.g. around extant and emerging curricula
  • Expansion of web-based repository of research and educational resources
  • Implementation of multi-state and in-state inclusion/diversity training program(s) based on the 2011 Latino Domestic Immersion Program and other Diversity Education programs (Storm, 2011 and Storm, 2011) (See Appendix C for a brief description)
  • Cross departmental - within LGU universities, including 'traditional' Extension fields e.g. agriculture, human sciences, etc. and 'non-traditional' department linkages such as liberal arts, education, etc
  • Across LGUs in the southern region - inclusive of 1862s, 1890s
  • Land-grant universities linking with non-land grants
  • Not-for-profit Latino-serving organizations, Latino families and community leaders
  • Public/Community organizations such as schools, health departments, social services

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Regional conferences and/or meetings, webinars, issue briefs, website information and linkages, social media. Particular efforts are underway to link with Hispanic-serving organizations to build program opportunities with clientele. The Staff Development emphasis is outlined in more detail in Appendix C.


Leadership will continue with chair, chair-elect, secretary, and secretary-elect. There will be working groups/tasks forces. The SERA-37 looks forward to continued website hosting, publication distribution, and occasional logistical support from the SRDC/SSRC. Quarterly SERA conference calls will help communications along with face to face meetings. Funding opportunities will be directed to the Extension system with appropriate in-house logistical support, partner organization support, and/or strong commitment of an Extension state leader.

Literature Cited

Cohn, Vera 2010 Census: Hispanic Population More Than Doubles in Nine States, PEW Hispanic Trust Report, March 25, 2011

Herndon. M.C., Behnke, A.O., Navarro, M., Daniel, J B., Storm, J. (2012) needs and perceptions of cooperative extension educators serving Latino populations in the south, Journal of Extension. In press. Accepted March 22, 2012

Storm, Julia F. Farm Foundation, NFP Small Grant Report, June 11, 2011

Storm, Julia F. (P.I.) in cooperation with Cintia Aguilar and Andrew Behnke , NCSU Just In Time Grant Final Report, August 19, 2011


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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