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PSA Trainer and Lead Trainer Process

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule §112.22(c) requires “at least one supervisor or responsible party from the farm to successfully complete food safety training at least equivalent to that received under the standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration”. The PSA Grower Training (GT) Course is one way for growers to meet this requirement. The PSA Trainer and Lead Trainer processes have been designed to develop trainers to effectively and consistently deliver this curriculum so that fruit and vegetable growers are well informed and prepared to implement FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements. Interested trainers are expected to have diverse backgrounds and be competent in the key content areas prior to attending the PSA Train-the-Trainer (TTT) Course. Since not every potential trainer may feel confident in all of the competency areas, the trainer development process incorporates two options for individuals who want to become trainers.

A flow diagram outlining the process of becoming a PSA Trainer or Lead Trainer can be found in the PSA Trainer Flow Diagram, but the process is described in more detail below. Additionally, a fact sheet has been developed which outlines tips to applying to become a PSA Lead Trainer

PSA Trainer 

To become a PSA Trainer, an individual must first attend a PSA GT Course. After attending at the PSA GT Course, individuals must register for a PSA TTT Course and fill out the PSA Trainer Application. At the conclusion of the PSA TTT Course, participant information will be entered into a database and a certificate will be generated after payment by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) indicating they are a PSA Trainer.
Please Note -  The PSA Trainer Application must be submitted in English.

PSA Trainers can:

  • Deliver any of the seven curriculum modules during a PSA GT Course under the supervision of a PSA Lead Trainer;
  • Register PSA GT Courses with AFDO, as long as a PSA Lead Trainer will be physically present for the entire PSA Grower Training Course;
  • Proceed with the PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application to become a PSA Lead Trainer.

PSA Lead Trainer

To become a PSA Lead Trainer, an individual must first attend a PSA GT, become a PSA Trainer by filling out the PSA Trainer Application, attend the PSA TTT Course, and then complete the PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application. The review process for becoming a PSA Lead Trainer is intended to ensure that PSA Lead Trainers meet the minimum qualifications in each of the four competency areas as well as the educational and teaching background necessary to lead a PSA GT Course. The supplemental application questions will help evaluate trainers’ knowledge and their preparedness to conduct PSA GT Courses. Please Note - The PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application must be submitted in English.

 Lead Trainers can:

  • Deliver any of the seven curriculum modules during a PSA GT;
  • Register PSA GT Courses with AFDO;
  • Conduct a training solo or by forming training teams, as long as all trainers have attended the PSA TTT Course (i.e., PSA Trainers).

PSA Grower Training Prerequisite

Effective October 1, 2021, all individuals interested in enrolling in a PSA TTT Course must have attended at least one registered PSA GT Course. Successfully completing an in-person, online, or remote PSA Grower Training Course meets this requirement. During the PSA TTT, Trainers-of-Trainers (ToTs) emphasize how to teach the PSA GT Course curriculum, effectively engage participants, and navigate training challenges to ensure a high-quality training, so there is an expectation that attendees already know the curriculum content. PSA team experience, as well as that of other PSA ToTs, indicates that those who have not attended a PSA GT Course prior to attending a PSA TTT Course are not as familiar with the content as they need to be and this may negatively impact their experience in the PSA TTT Course. Participants that have not attended a PSA GT Course prior to the PSA TTT Course will not be eligible for a certificate of completion and will not be PSA Trainers, therefore it is critical that all participants are aware of this prerequisite requirement prior to registering for the PSA TTT Course.

PSA Trainer Application

All trainers will be required to fill out the PSA Trainer Application prior to attending a PSA TTT Course. The application will be made available to trainers when they enroll in a course. No one will be turned away from attending the PSA TTT Course, but course availability may be limited by location and host. All applications must be submitted in English.

PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application

After attending the PSA TTT Course, participants will receive a unique link to the PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application. Those interested in becoming PSA Lead Trainers need to complete the application form and pay the application fee. All applications must be submitted in English.

Cost to Become a PSA Lead Trainer

The PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application will cost $325 for non-profit organizations and $500 for for-profit organizations. This fee covers the cost of the PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee member’s time reviewing and approving applications, as well as any time spent conducting follow-up interviews with applicants.

Review Process for PSA Lead Trainers

Information collected from both the PSA Trainer Application and the PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application is assessed using a standardized rubric by at least two members of the PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee to determine if the trainer meets qualifications. For more information on how applications are reviewed see the PSA Lead Trainer Applicant Scoring Document. Additionally, a fact sheet has been developed which outlines tips to applying to become a PSA Lead Trainer

Trainer Application Assessments:

  • Educational background: formal degrees, certifications, completed short courses, and other relevant educational experiences
  • Training and teaching experience: produce safety specific training, food safety, postharvest, agricultural production, and other types of training led by the applicant
  • Produce production and handling experience: commercially growing produce, conducting extension or outreach activities, or other applicable agricultural production experience

Supplemental Application Assessments:

  • Responses to four short answer questions, one from each of the four competency areas:
    • Produce Safety Scientific Knowledge and Experience
    • Fruit and Vegetable Production Knowledge
    • Effective Training Delivery
    • Knowledge of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Responses may be no longer than 350 words per question. The responses will be evaluated using a rubric based on the following scale.

1 Below Expectations The applicant explains concepts incorrectly.
2 Needs Further Evaluation The applicant seems to understand basic principles, but cannot explain or apply the information. Interview required.
3 Meets Expectations The applicant demonstrates the ability to present and explain the content. This may include breaking information down into parts, relating the parts to the overall picture, making judgments based on standards.

If any of the four responses are scored “Below Expectations”, the applicant will not qualify to become a PSA Lead Instructor but may take remediation steps as outlined in 6A of the PSA Trainer Flow Diagram and reapply.

If any of the four responses are scored “Needs Further Evaluation”, a follow-up interview may be scheduled to clarify the responses and ask additional questions as outlined in 6B of the PSA Trainer Flow Diagram. The PSA will coordinate with the applicant and the PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee to schedule a date and time for a follow-up interview via toll free conference line.

Follow-up Interview (If Needed)

The PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee will ask questions related to the curriculum content as well as scenarios that may be encountered during a training with produce growers. Applicants will be asked one additional question from each of the area(s) identified as “Needing Further Evaluation” on the scoring rubric.  The Review Committee Lead will be responsible for gathering input from the other committee members, summarizing the results, and making a recommendation for PSA Lead Trainer status.  The interview evaluation summary, including notes from each competency area, will be shared with the applicant. The interview will be scheduled for one hour, but will conclude as soon as questions are asked and answered. The applicant will be notified as to whether they have satisfied the requirements to become a PSA Lead Trainer, usually within 2-4 weeks of the interview. Applicants must respond within 45 days of first contact from the PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee member. If the review process is not completed after 90 days due to the applicant failing to responds, the application will not longer be valid and the applicant will be responsible for all fees for reapplication.

For Lead Trainer Applicants requesting translation assistance, expectations for the interview will be clearly communicated by the review committee and may include scheduling additional time for the interview and other communication requirements. The applicant is responsible for arranging translation support and covering any associated expenses.

Preparing to Become a PSA Lead Trainer

Attending the PSA TTT Course is the first step to becoming a PSA Lead Trainer. All individuals who want to become PSA Lead Trainers must attend the PSA TTT Course prior to applying. The PSA TTT Course has been designed to highlight the curriculum content and other key topics relevant to delivering the PSA GT Course. Applicants should ask questions and take notes during the course. 

After the course, the following actions can help prepare prospective PSA Lead Trainers for the Supplemental Application process:

  • Review all seven curriculum modules, learning objectives, and teaching notes;
  • Review the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and associated documents provided on the USB drive to assure familiarity with the regulatory requirements;
  • Read the additional literature provided as citations in the teaching notes if a particular area is new or unfamiliar;
  • Review the supporting information found on the FDA FSMA website;
  • Train with a team as a PSA Trainer to gain experience with the curriculum materials and in working with produce growers.

Not Qualifying to Become a PSA Lead Trainer and Steps to Improve Knowledge

If a trainer is unable to qualify upon initial application and review, the applicant may reapply after taking appropriate steps to improve knowledge and understanding of the four competency areas. Reapplication can occur no sooner than 6 weeks after the decline letter date. Applicants must submit documentation to demonstrate the appropriate steps taken to improve the knowledge and skills identified as deficient in the feedback form. This information must be detailed in the first box of the PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application.  Applicants who are reapplying will be subject to the PSA Lead Trainer Supplemental Application fees. 

The information provided by the PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee outlining the areas that were “Below Expectations” on the scoring rubric should be reviewed first. Additional actions to improve knowledge could include any of the following:

  • Participate in registered PSA GT Courses as a PSA Trainer under the guidance of a PSA Lead Trainer;
  • Re-attend the PSA TTT Course;
  • Take and document other actions to improve knowledge (e.g., enrolling in a microbiology course, taking other produce safety courses)

All actions taken to improve knowledge must be submitted to the PSA Lead Trainer Review Committee prior to scheduling another interview.

The Produce Safety Alliance reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to revoke PSA Trainer or PSA Lead Trainer status at any time which may be subject to additional consultation with the PSA, if evaluations indicate poor performance or violations of PSA and AFDO course training requirements.