National Farmworker Jobs Program Participant Highlights
Kirby Peterson, a low-income seasonal hired-hand laborer from Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Sioux Tribe met with the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP)Case Worker to discuss post-secondary education options.Poverty has loomed over this reservation for generations. Repeated attempts to create jobs have run into challenging obstacles including the isolated location; the area’s crumbling infrastructure; and a workforce in desperate need of training to name a few. Kirby wanted better.
Kirby wanted to obtain the skills and training in a career field of interest that were necessary to provide him with a good paying job and benefits. Kirby’s primary source of income had been working in the cattle industry in Eagle Butte. Due to the low unemployment rate and high level of poverty in that area, his pre-program earnings at the time of enrollment were a mere $3,268. This qualified Kirby for NFJP.
Kirby’s career goal was to obtain training in the Radiologic Technology field of study, a high demand job in the state. The NFJP staff worked collaboratively with various agencies such as Native American funding sources, Low Income Energy Assistance and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation’s workforce training program to assist Kirby in reaching his goal. Kirby successfully completed his Associate of Applied Science Radiologic Technology degree at Mitchel Technical Institute in Mitchell, South Dakota. He participated in an internship at the local hospital where he was able to obtain further training. Additionally, he participated in the National Radiology Technology Conference in Orlando, Florida. At the end of April of 2017, he had another opportunity to gain more skills and experience in his field of study when he attended the South Dakota Society of Radiologic Technologists (SDSRT) in Sioux Falls. Kirby is grateful for the opportunities and resources made available to him through NFJP to reach his goal. Kirby is employed full-time at the Cheyenne River Health Center. He is enjoying his new career and looking forward to this new journey in his life. Kirby went from living in poverty earning less than $6,000 per year to earning $46,969!
Jon was a low-income farm worker, native of Corsica, SD. Throughout high school, Jon worked at a farm where he would breed sows and administer shots to the newborn piglets earning $7.25/hour. He graduated from High School in May of 2015. In the fall of 2015, Jon started school at Mitchell Technical Institute with the career goal of obtaining a degree in wind turbine technology. When asked how he came about signing up for the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), he indicated he saw an informational flyer posted at the school and decided to look further into it. Jon called the number and the case manager visited with him and determined Jon was eligible for the program.
Jon knew once he entered college, he would be financially strapped and was uncertain how he would be able to pay bills and stay in school. Signing up for the NFJP program helped Jon financially and in turn,be successful in school. Jon stated,“it was a stress reliever and it helped me focus more on my school work and grades.”
NFJP provided Jon with financial support for gas, rent, groceries, and student stipends.This assistance was a significant contributing factor in helping Jon reach his goal, graduating with high honors. Jon is now currently working at MA Mortenson Company,a wind blade repair company, earning $20 per hour and working 10 to 12 hours a day.
Jon’s five year goal is to go back to school for his bachelor’s degree in sustainable management. He wishes to one day run his own construction business and possibly own his own hog farm as well.