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UF/IFAS Extension agent wins national honor

“It is very rewarding to have a national recognition, especially when you work with a non- traditional clientele.”

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Agricultural Extension Agent Cesar Asuaje is the recipient of the 2014 National Extension Diversity Award, given by the Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism. NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the award since 1991.

“Programs such as these define what Extension means to Americans all across the country, and their success has helped many producers apply science-based knowledge to their own farms and ranches,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director.

Asuaje works in West Palm Beach, Fla. Knowing his audience is a hallmark of his success at improving safety for Hispanic farmworkers who are often poor, speak little or no English, and can’t always read.

“It is very rewarding to have a national recognition, especially when you work with a non- traditional clientele,” Asuaje said. “This is what makes this award so significant because there is recognition to an Extension program that is very needed around the country, and I am proud to be able to have the opportunity to spend time helping these people.”

In his combined 29 years of Extension experience in Venezuela and South Florida, he has developed, delivered and evaluated educational opportunities that aim to protect agricultural workers from toxic chemicals, physical injury and death. Using highly visual, bilingual teaching techniques, Asuaje successfully helped 422 farmworkers complete pesticide certification, increasing hourly wages by $1.56 for those passing the test. His efforts in South Florida are extended to the Dominican Republic where he advised Extension agents on how to create and evaluate similar programs.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. Cooperative Extension translates science for practical applications, engages with the public by providing reliable information leading to positive action, and transforms individuals, families, communities and businesses in rural and urban areas. Extension operates through the nationwide land-grant universities, such as the University of Florida.

Asuaje’s award will be presented Nov. 2, during the 127th Annual Meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Orlando, Florida.

Cesar Asuaje

Cesar Asuaje travels to agriculture enterprises throughout South Florida, teaching a one-day, on-the-job safety course to Spanish-speaking migrant workers.