Stories from the Field: WCAHS attends the 22nd Annual Arizona Interagency Farmworkers Coalition Conference


On September 26th - 28th, the WCAHS Outreach Team attended the 22nd Annual Arizona Interagency Farmworkers Coalition (AIFC) Conference held in Yuma, Arizona. WCAHS not only covers California, but also Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii, so it was a great opportunity to learn more about what other states are doing for farmworkers and their families.

Promoting health and positive change at the AIFC Conference in Arizona

The conference opened with keynote speaker Roberto Dansie, PhD, who is a nationally renowned psychologist, motivational speaker, Toltec/Mayan curandero/shaman, author, and cultural wisdom scholar. He shared a combination of personal stories and inspirational philosophy to promote cultural diversity and motivate others through positive change. His uplifting presentation provided many funny moments that the crowd loved.

There was also a presentation on current immigration issues and executive orders in the United States, including a very detailed and helpful overview of the H2A program in Arizona. This temporary agricultural program establishes a means for agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. I had never heard of this program, so it was great to learn about it and hear about the current challenges it faces.

Self-care support at community health centers

The second day of the conference offered information about migrant and community health centers and a new program involving self-care. A recruiter from Arizona State University spoke about the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) offered to children of migrant or seasonal farmworkers that helps them each step of the way towards graduation. A coordinator from the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers also spoke about how we can be effective advocates by raising our voices in support of a cause or mission, spreading the word and taking action to benefit others.

That same evening, AIFC hosted their Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner for 10 young individuals who were this year’s recipients. There were so many positive speakers rooting for these young individuals and reminding them that they too could make a difference in their communities. Many of those speakers not only grew up in Yuma, but also became professionals who now work in the same communities they grew up in. A young group of local mariachi players and dancers brightened up the evening dinner with music and traditional Mexican dances.

Supporting farmworkers and their families in Arizona

Overall, the conference was full of amazing individuals doing their part to help local farmworkers and their families. It was inspiring to see such a tightknit group who really makes every attempt to give back to their communities and put Arizona on the radar. We hope to participate in the conference again and establish stronger partnerships.