Children In the Fields Campaign


Since 1997, AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign (CIFC) has been dedicated to ensuring that farmworker children are protected and given an opportunity to succeed in life. By educating the public, advocating for educational programs for farmworker children, and supporting fair living wages for all farmworkers.

Children In the Fields Campaign’s mission is to show America the realities our farmworker families face through the eyes of their children and to spur action to provide better educational support for our farmworker children, and prevent health hazards from working in the fields.

CIFC has partnered with the Child Labor Coalition, the National Consumers League, and other concerned parties to protect farmworker children. Together, they work to publicize the plight of this hidden population and advocate for federal policies that would strengthen the child labor safeguards in agriculture so that they are just as protective as those in other industries.


Children in the Fields Campaign (CIFC) focuses its work on behalf of farmworker children in the following three areas:


We give pesticide safety training to farmworker children through our interactive story-telling bilingual curriculum Jose Learns About Pesticides. We also focus on training farmworker parents about take-home exposure and exposure to pesticides while pregnant. If parents don’t know the harm of pesticide exposure, they won’t protect their children properly, either.


CIFC advocates for federal policies to strengthen the U.S. child labor safeguards in agriculture by educating the public, advocating for educational programs for farmworker children, and supporting a fair living wage for all farmworkers. This is possible through our work with Child Labor Coalition and through our impact on multiple social media platforms.


We believe farmworker children have a story to tell. We offer that platform through our annual Essay and Art Contest. The stories are used to help advocate for farmworker children’s rights. Each year we are able to collect hundreds of essays and works of art from students across the country, giving farmworker children the opportunity to showcase their heartwarming and compelling stories on the national stage and to empower them through our contests as they find the power in their voice.


*children work in the fields of the U.S.*
to ensure farmworker children are being
afforded the same protection as other children.



Each entry submitted was full of heartwarming stories and will be shared on our social media.  Each entry deserves to be seen and heard.

2022 Theme:  I’m a Farmworker Child, See Me!

ART (Category 1 – Ages 10 to 13)
ART (Category 2 – Ages 14 to 18)



Janelly Caballero – Oxnard, CA

Brandy Ortiz – Indio, CA

Maria Garcia – Bakersfield, CA




Aaron Cruz – Bakersfield, CA

Yaresmie Vaeza – Salinas, CA

Daylianis Rivas – Bakersfield, CA

ESSAY (Category 3 – Ages 10 to 13)
ESSAY (Category 4 – Ages 14 to 18)



Guadalupe Gonzalez – Bakersfield, CA

Edwin Juarez – Bakersfield, CA

Keiry Mejia – Bakersfield, CA




Emily Camacho – Quincy, WA

Kelly Galindo – Ruskim, FL

Jessy Rivas – Bakersfield, CA

*All 1st place winners had the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a tablet.  This year’s tablet winner is Janelly Caballero. Congratulations!

2022 Winner’s Booklet!


*If you would like a version of this booklet with better quality. Please contact us!



Every farmworker child has a story to tell.  AFOP offers a platform through its annual Art and Essay Contest to showcase farmworker children’s heartwarming and compelling stories on the national stage, and to empower them as they find the power in their voices.

2022 THEME:


Download Flyer (8.5×11) ENGLISH  //  SPANISH 
Download English Contest Guidelines and Application HERE!

Descargue las Reglas y Aplicación del Concurso en Español AQUI!

Deadline to submit art and/or essay entries…

July 30, 2022 (Deadline Extended)

Winners will be notified…

via phone or mail by August 30th, 2022

Winners will be announced…

via Facebook Live on August 31 at 12.30(ET)

Make sure to follow us on social media!


Got Questions?

Contact Melanie Forti at


To learn how to become a sponsor contact Melanie Forti at

You can be the difference between making the contest happen in 2022 and raising farmworker children’s voices, or letting their stories dissolve and never be told.

Donations can be mailed to:

Pay to: AFOP
Note: CIFC Contest
Attn: Melanie Forti
1150 Connecticut Ave. N.W.,
Suite 315,
Washington, D.C. 20036


2021 –  We Are the Harvest of Hope: We Will Change the World   (booklet)  / (video)
2020 –  2020 Essay & Art Contest Winner’s Video
2019 –  My Story from The Fields:  Growing My Dreams
2018 –  Flourishing in the Fields
2017 –  Growing Up in the Fields that Feed America
2016 – Cultivating Roots of Opportunities


What are the Minimum Age Standards for Agricultural Employment?


  • Youth ages 16 and above may work in any farm job at any time.
  • Youth aged 14 and 15 may work outside school hours in jobs not declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
  • Youth 12 and 13 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs on farms that also employ their parent(s) or with written parental consent.
  • Youth under 12 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs with parental consent, but only on farms where none of the employees are subject to the minimum wage requirements of the FLSA.
  • Local youths 10 and 11 may hand harvest short-season crops outside school hours for no more than 8 weeks between June 1 and October 15 if their employers have obtained special waivers from the Secretary of Labor.
  • Youth of any age may work at any time in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents.

However, kids even younger than 12 often accompany their parents to work on American farms and fields.  This means that farmworker children are being put at risk from a very young age – even before birth – from the pesticides, dangerous equipment, and other hazards populating those environments.  Teenagers are permitted to operate various equipment from a young age, which corresponds to an increase in the rate of tragic accidents involving youth.  Though children are at the height of vulnerability when they are still in the womb, there are inadequate protections for farmworkers who are expecting a child.  Children also interact with their environment in fundamentally different ways than adults, yet this is not in regulators’ minds when setting standards for things such as pesticide use.

*Minimum age for handlers and early-entry workers Handlers and early-entry workers must be at least 18 years old. (Members of owner’s immediate family are exempt from this and most other requirements of the WPS. Source:

Here are some facts you should know about farmworker children.

To view full information click here.

  • FACT #1:  400,000-500,000 children between the ages of 12-17 are estimated to be working in U.S. agriculture
  • FACT #2:   Under current U.S. law, youth working in agriculture do not receive the same protections provided to other working youth.
  • FACT #3:  Farmworker children who migrate must be uprooted from their homes, schools, and communities 2-3 times a year.
  • FACT #4:  Farmworker children’s mental health is suffering.
  • FACT #5:  Agriculture is our country’s most dangerous occupation for farmworker youth
  • FACT #6: Pesticides are highly toxic, and the population most vulnerable to them is farmworker children.
  • FACT #7:   Pesticides increase the risk of developmental disorders in farmworker children.
  • FACT #8: Pesticides cause childhood cancer in farmworker children.
  • FACT #9:  Valley Fever sickens farmworker children and their parents in the course of their work in the fields.
  • FACT #10: Momentum has been building to ban all children from applying or handling pesticides.

What are the Hazardous Occupations in Agriculture?

Minors under 16 may not work in the following occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor:

  • operating a tractor of over 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting an implement or any of its parts to or from such a tractor;
  • operating or working with a corn picker, cotton picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, mobile pea viner, feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, unloading mechanism of a nongravity-type self-unloading wagon or trailer, power post-hole digger, power post driver, or nonwalking-type rotary tiller;
  • operating or working with a trencher or earthmoving equipment, fork lift, potato combine, or power-driven circular, band or chain saw;
  • working in a yard, pen, or stall occupied by a bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes; a sow with suckling pigs; or a cow with a newborn calf (with umbilical cord present);
  • felling, buckling, skidding, loading, or unloading timber with a butt diameter or more than 6 inches;
  • working from a ladder or scaffold at a height of over 20 feet;
  • driving a bus, truck or automobile to transport passengers, or riding on a tractor as a passenger or helper;
  • working inside: a fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere; an upright silo within 2 weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in operating position; a manure pit; or a horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes;
  • handling or applying toxic agricultural chemical identified by the words “danger,” “poison,” or “warning or a skull and crossbones on the label;
  • handling or using explosives; and
  • transporting, transferring, or applying anhydrous ammonia.

The prohibition of employment in hazardous occupations does not apply to youths employed on farms owned or operated by their parents.  In addition, there are some exemptions from the prohibitions:

  • 14 and 15-year old student learners enrolled in vocational agricultural programs are exempt from certain hazardous occupations when certain requirements are met; and
  • minors aged 14 and 15 who hold certificates of completion of training under a 4-H or vocational agriculture training program may work outside school hours on certain equipment for which they have been trained


Children are at greater health risk from pesticide exposure than adults. Pesticides have been linked to numerous health problems, including asthma, dermatitis, learning disabilities, leukemia, brain tumors and certain childhood cancers. Several factors contribute to this vulnerability. We may think of children as “little adults”, but in fact, their bodies are not fully prepared to handle toxic chemicals.

AFOP recognizes the importance of educating children on how to protect themselves from pesticides to avoid immediate or future health hazards. We have created an interactive and bilingual curriculum called José Aprende Sobre los Pesticidas (Jose Learns About Pesticides) that is about a boy called “José” whose family works in the fields. Among many lessons,children are taught about how to dress fro the fields, as well as the importance of washing their hands before eating or going to the bathroom while and after being in the fields.

Children In the Fields Partnered with Student Action with Farmworkers to recreate the “Jose Aprende” curriculum into an a fun video in English and Spanish.




The voices of farmworker children are rarely heard and their struggles are rarely understood. The Children in the Fields Campaign is working to help them share their stories and become leaders in their own communities through farmworker youth photo exhibits, student-led conferences, and educational materials. In addition, AFOP hosts an annual Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Children Essay and Art Contest.

We must act now to ensure farmworker children are being afforded the same protection as other children.

  • Learn about where your food comes from an d educate others about the plight of farmworker children
  • Support educational programs for farmworker children
  • Advocate for more protections for children who work in agriculture
  • Support fair food and fair living wages for all farmworkers

Join local grassroots groups in your state!

In 2009, the Children in the Fields Campaign launched a new phase to increase grassroots efforts in five key states and garner support for better protection of farmworker children under the law, providing them with equal opportunities for success. Regional Coordinators in the farmworker communities of California, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas have formed community coalitions and farmworker youth councils to raise awareness about the persistent issue of child labor in our agricultural system.To get involved with our grassroots campaigns, please visit:

Migrants in Action

North Carolina
NC FIELD Coalition



Children can legally work on any farm at age 12, with their parents’ permission, and it’s not uncommon to see children as young as 7 and 8 in the fields. During peak harvest season, the children work up to 14-hour days and earn far less than minimum wage. There is no minimum age for children working on a small farm with parental permission.

Health and safety risks:
Agriculture is the most dangerous occupation open to children in the United States. Children work with sharp tools, heavy machinery, and dangerous chemicals, and die at four times the rate of other young workers. Yet they can legally do hazardous work in agriculture from which they would be banned by law in any other industry.

The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act), HR 3564, would ensure that all working children are protected equally. It would:

  • Apply the same age and hour requirements to children working in agriculture that already apply to all other working children, including raising the minimum age for hazardous work from 16 to 18
  • Preserve the family farm exception that excuses children working on their parents’ farms from the child labor law
  • Increase fines for child labor violations to $15,000 from $11,000
  • Strengthen provisions regarding children’s exposure to pesticides
  • Require better data collection from the Department of Labor


World Day Against Child Labor aims to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on June 12th, governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world come together to bring to light the plight of child laborers and what can be done to help them.

What will YOU do to stop child labor?
You can start by:

  • stop supporting/buying products made by children
  • support organizations that fight against child labor
  • spread the word on social media


  • Child Labor Coalition Website    Please follow on social media Facebook & Twitter
  • Farmworker stories from the fields (PDF) (PowerPoint)
  • You can find the new ILO-UNICEF estimates HERE!
  • State Child Labor Laws Applicable to Agricultural Employment HERE!


Children In the Fields: The Struggles You Should Know

This file has been compressed to be able to upload to our website.  Should you be interested in the original file (6MB), please email with your request.

Download the Infographic HERE

Children In the Fields: The Stories You Should Know

Children In the Fields: The Facts You Should Know

Sowing the Seeds of Change: A Snapshot of Child Labor in America

Americas FW Children -Harvest of Broken Dreams

Children At Work – A glimpse into the lives of child farmworkers in the U.S.

Children In the Fields: An American Problem 


AFOP invites you to join us in assisting these children to obtain the same opportunities enjoyed by other children in the United States.

Here are some ideas for how you can get involved:

  • Donate to our cause, so we can continue fighting injustice. DONATE HERE!
  • Urge your state and federal elected representatives to support legislation that will correct the inequities in the Fair Labor Standards Act and protect child farmworkers.
  • Support measures that will increase the wages of farmworker parents, so they do not feel compelled to bring their children to work.
  • Volunteer your time and support championing educational programs that help migrant children.
  • Contact your local media outlets to educate them and your fellow community members about the plight of child farmworkers.
  • Follow us on social media.

For more information please contact:

Melanie Forti,
CIFC Director

Laura Najarro,
Communications Coordinator


What if you could buy a gift with a meaningful purpose?  Or just join an important fight?
Visit our online store to support our work by purchasing some of the beautifully designed items..

Each purchase helps support our work to keep farmworker children in school, while we work strongly to bring change to U.S. child labor laws to protect this vulnerable population.

¡Visite nuestra tienda en línea para apoyar nuestra causa!




The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a national federation of agencies serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers. AFOP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by providing advocacy for the member organizations that serve them.

The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a national federation of agencies serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers. AFOP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by providing advocacy for the member organizations that serve them.

Click here to add your own text