In 2009, the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) - Community Engagement Core (CEC) and Dean Carter Binational Center for Environmental Health Sciences (Binational Center) received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission to create transferable training modules for promotoras or Latina community health advocates. The overall goal of this endeavor was to develop environmental science-themed trainings for promotoras and to multiply these efforts using a train-the-trainer model. This model is based on providing training to promotoras, who in turn transfer the knowledge gained to other promotoras, and subsequently to their communities at large.
Four themes of interest to the affected communities were selected for development: pesticides; arsenic; environmental toxicology; and fate and transport of contaminants. Project partners included scientific experts and promotoras from Mexico, Arizona, and the U.S.-Mexico Border who provided input on module content, comprising of a theme background, PowerPoint presentation, hands-on activities, assessment tools, multi-media materials, and additional resources.
The project leveraged funding from the UA SRP in order to pilot the modules with partner promotora groups as well as others not involved in the module development stage. UA SRP professors and graduate trainees volunteered their time to present the pilot modules to the promotoras. A total of 11 workshops were held with promotoras from the Sonoran Environmental Research Institute, Inc. (SERI – Tucson, Arizona), El Rio Community Heath Center (Tucson, Arizona), Regional Center for Border Health, Inc. (Somerton, Arizona), Campesinos Sin Fronteras (Somerton, Arizona), Sunset Community Health Center (Somerton, AZ), and Mariposa Community Health Center (Nogales, Arizona). A total of 58 promotoras received training and provided input on the pilot modules.
The culmination of this two-year project was a pilot training workshop completely taught by SERI promotoras with other promotoras as their audience on July 12th and 13th, 2012 in Nogales, Arizona at the Mariposa Community Health Center. The SERI promotoras who provided these training were Lourdes Vea, Palmira Henríquez, Flor Morales, and Norma Wells. Promotoras from Health Center as well as teachers from the Instituto Tecnológico de Nogales attended. In preparation for the workshop, SERI promotoras studied module themes, prepared training presentations, and developed hand-on activities based on the module materials they received. UA SRP and Binational Center Directors Dr. A. Jay Gandolfi, Dr. Jim Field, CEC Coordinator Denise Moreno Ramírez and graduate trainees Sahar Fathordoobadi, Lucia Rodríguez Freire, Paul Severson, and Javier Gerardo Miguelena Bada were in attendance to provide training support.
The pilot trainings were an opportunity to evaluate whether the module content was understandable and flexible for any trainer, whether a professor, student, or promotora. Input from the promotora participants was obtained via surveys provided at the trainings as well as a debriefing with SERI promotoras. The promotoras voiced opinions on the quality of the trainings provided, the clarity of the science themes presented, and the applicability of the information to their outreach work.
We are currently analyzing surveys results and incorporating partner input in order to finalize the module product. Once finalized, modules will be available both in electronic and hard copy. Additional train-the-trainer workshops will be developed to accompany the distribution of the finalized modules and to help prepare promotoras to transfer environmental information to their stakeholders.