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Produce Safety Educators Call #34 September 24, 2018 2-3 PM EDT

Total Attendees: 61
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Printable Handout
Topic: How to Avoid “Stepping in It” at Your PSA Grower Trainings
Presenter: Dr. Connie Fisk, Northwest Extension Associate

Call Notes

Dr. Connie Fisk, Northwest Extension Associate, presented tips for how to avoid "stepping in it" at a PSA Grower Training. We each have beliefs about what is normal or acceptable behavior and language at a PSA Grower Training, but not all participants share the same beliefs and values. Along those same lines, certain activities we use to make our courses more interactive may leave some participants feeling targeted or excluded. In this webinar, Connie shared best practices learned in her first year with the Produce Safety Alliance to help you plan an inclusive, engaged Grower Training. She also shared tips and resources to help you stay calm if you, your host, or a participant accidentally “steps in it.”

Meeting Notes:

I. Introduction

II. Identities

  • Our identities, both privileged and marginalized, affect how we see the world.
  • We also have biases, meaning preference or prejudice toward one group over another.
  • Bias can be conscious or unconscious, and may manifest in many ways, both subtle and obvious.
  • By understanding our own identities and biases and how they may impact our trainings, we can identify things we can do or stop doing, to more inclusive, to help all Grower Training participants feel welcome
  • Learning is Impacted by the Participants AND the Trainer(s) – slide from Train-the- Trainer course.
    • Connie asked attendees to share in the chat what else could be added to this list
      • Race? Gender?
    • Comments on the photo used in the slide:
      • I could not sit on a 5 gallon bucket for 8 hours
      • No tables?
      • Audio is very important.
      • Microphones are always needed and large screens so the words are large
      • Gretchen noted for everyone that the photo was a 2-hour evening workshop at a farm – and that the presentation was about 30 minutes. But very great point that participants should be comfortable the entire time!

III. Gender example and recommendations for inclusivity

  • Importance of Pronouns – be deliberate in using gendered examples
  • Gender biases – SOP recipe example – tailor examples based on audience
  • Transgender Bathroom Issue – know where your state is in the debate

Connie asked attendees to share in the chat if you’ve ever witnessed a situation in a Grower Training that could have made someone feel unwelcome due to gender

  • Exercises where you have people standing, and then say "all the men/women sit down". What if you don't ID as a man or woman? Just choose another characteristic to have people sit down, like shirt color (we will return to this example later in the webinar)
  • As an org (Local Food Safety Collaborative), we have started to allow people to identify the pronoun they prefer at the beginning of trainings or workshops, but it feels tricky sometimes. Also, we’ve started to try to identify the original inhabitant of the land where we are hosting a workshop (especially in workshops about land, landownership, and credit). With the pronoun thing, I just say the pronoun I prefer—she/her— and that opens it to others who might want to say their own rather than suggesting that everyone share. There are other settings where this feels really awkward and I avoid it.

IV. Religion example and recommendations for inclusivity

  • Offering refreshments and meal options with consideration for religious dietary requirements
  • Moment of silence instead of prayer
  • Humor and Storytelling – slide from Train-the-Trainer course
  • Avoid religious jokes
    “The impact is more important than the intent.” - Dr. Anne Phibbs, 2018 MFLN Cultural Competency Virtual Conference

Connie asked attendees to share in the chat if you’ve ever witnessed a situation in a Grower Training that could have made someone feel unwelcome due to religion

  • I ask people to recite pledge the allegiance to the flag – that’s another example that might make some attendees uncomfortable

(Sharing slide of identity categories again)

  • Gender and religion are just two examples
  • I’m sure you have experienced or can imagine ways that participants might be made to feel unwelcome by something related to the other categories

Connie invited attendees to continue to share their stories in the chat box

  • Also thinking about our veteran and their needs and sensitivities; PTSD
  • Local Foods has a board member who is narcoleptic (traumatic brain injury – veteran), falls asleep in trainings – learned to be more sensitive/gentle when he falls asleep
    • Locations of windows and exits relating to stress for veterans; need to be welcoming and accommodating
    • Know that a person who comes to you to request accommodation is coming from a position of vulnerability

V. Tips for taking action

Participant told a bad joke – what would you do? Connie redirected the training, but did not speak up or document the incident and regretted that later. With reflection and professional development, she recommends 1) immediately address the person, 2) document who said what, and 3) talk to them after the course with another trainer (ally).

You might think it’s better to just pull that person aside afterward and have a private conversation. Unfortunately, that sends the wrong message to the rest of the participants because all they see is your silence. They won’t see you pull that person aside later.

How to be an ally:

  • Be willing to speak up - If you see/hear something, say something
  • If you have an idea where a participant’s bias is coming from, you can help shift it
  • Better to focus on the behavior rather than the identity
  • Prepare to teach as if diverse identities will be in your course (they will be, even if you don’t see them)
  • Creating an accessible, inclusive learning environment will benefit all participants
  • This is on-going process and we get better with practice

Comments from the chat box:

  • I've found it's useful to have a private conversation and address the issue with the group at large. I don't think direct confrontation in front of the group is useful.
  • Remember translators may be required
  • Attended where something said was inappropriate and was not addressed by those in charge, stayed quiet, gives license for behavior to continue
    • Followed up with a ‘see something, say something’ sentiment and the value of a person in authority position stepping up and not validating the offensive behavior by silence.

VI. Tools for interactive teaching and learning

  • Clicker questions help with discussions anonymously – cell phone apps – poster voting or ranking – true/false cards
  • Understanding the relationship between E. coli and Coliforms – assign groups randomly – E. Coli cards resource available on PSA Trainer Resources webpage
  • Make participation optional – GloGerm example

Games & Other Interactive Content – slide from Train-the-Trainer course

  • Games should be fun – explain the rules, participation is optional, should be about learning not winning

Connie invited attendees to share in the chat box if they have received feedback from course participants about use of games in the course:

  • I really puzzled a group of Mennonite farmers one day with Bingo, by not explaining the rules.
  • I had a grower grumble "I came to learn, not play games" so I don't do bingo anymore. I will do clickers, as they don't have to play a game but it's still fun
  • appreciates trainings with games, but attended a training with too many games

Think about your identities and biases and how they might impact how you train; what can you do or stop doing to be more inclusive?

Comments from the chat box:

  • There are differences with gen x and millennials audiences; their family units are not the same
    • That statement is grouping people into an unfair category
    • True to recognize this – being aware what stereotypes are, but not using for judging
  • I have a few trainers with accents and we have to call out participants on their bias

Additional resources

Additional Comments:

  • Do you have any tips for trainers? I've had challenges with people from the plain faith community not listening to my presentations or talking over me. It appears that this is related to my being a woman. The male trainers that I train with don't have this experience.
    • Betsy identified that she has not experienced this issue, as a woman, but she does know that it can happen. Advised to wait until they finish, say I appreciate your input, but as the trainer I need to get us back on topic. Start with gentle, but deal with interruptions with a more firm approach, when needed. Stay calm (especially as a woman, don’t ‘flip out’ and try not to turn red). That person is disrupting more than just you.
    • Gender bias with training is not just the Plain community, it happens in any community
  • At our last training, a grower shared her health issues with cataracts in her eyes. She was unable to read the Grower training manual because the font was too small for her eyes. Are there plans for a large-format edition of the training book?
    • A large print format is not available at this time, but can be added to our running list of suggestions as deliverables?
    • Have a big screen and a good projector. Unless you see the glasses, you might not see the issue.
  • I was at a training where I noticed some behavior from a trainer toward a participant that I found troubling -- and I knew the person, so I spoke to that individual privately afterward. I did talk to another trainer afterward who said they didn't notice the behavior. I think the trainers can be so focused on the content that they don't have enough mental space left to pay attention to everything else that may be going on in the room. No magic answers to that.
  • I think having a good balance in your trainer team (as in personality differences) is crucial cause people take to certain personalities more than others. I know my stories can be a bit colorful and over the top so it helps to have at least one calmer type trainer. helps bigtime
  • As a female trainer working in the plain community - I pay attention to what I wear - it is more modest and subdued. No flashy prints, jewelry.

Connie is working on materials to add to the PSA Train-the-Trainer curriculum. Please share additional stories with her via email (

Next Meeting – October 29, 2018 - 2PM Eastern
Topic: TBD
Guest Speakers: TBD
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