“MSU has the only HEP program tailored to provide General Educational Development and job preparation services to the migrant and seasonal farm worker community in the Michigan, Illinois and Ohio region,” said Luis Alonzo Garcia, HEP director.
Current research indicates that agriculture, Michigan’s second largest industry, contributes $60.1 billion in direct and indirect economic activity to the state economy, Garcia said.
According to a recent study on the impact of migrant farm workers on Michigan agriculture, Michigan is the nation’s fourth largest employer of migrant farm workers in the United States.
“A large labor force is necessary to sustain the viability of this industry in Michigan,” Garcia said, “and the agricultural industry will continue to demand a large population of migrant farm workers.
Education of the migrant farm worker population is needed to break the continuous cycle of migrants who work to keep their families out of poverty, he said. Young people face barriers including cultural differences, limited English proficiency, the need for financial assistance and the lack of access to role models for education or careers.
“MSU’s HEP program focuses on the gaps and weaknesses and needs to overcome these barriers, and determines strategies and objectives to help meet the students’ educational goals,” Garcia said.
Two 12-week residential academic sessions are held each year on campus and at a commuter satellite site in Sturgis to provide academic instruction for GED preparation, support services and resources for academic and career planning to all program participants. Project graduates continue to receive referrals and support as they continue their higher education pursuits, or enter the work force or the military.
“Because of the large numbers of Latino/Hispanic citizens residing in Michigan and the difficulties associated with a lack of employment opportunities, it is essential to continue programs that further prepare this population for a competitive future by increasing graduation rates and job preparation,” Garcia said. “Michigan needs qualified, educated employees to improve its future and MSU HEP will continue to contribute to this goal.”
For more information on MSU HEP, visit www.msuhep.msu.edu