Orphan boy the farmer: Evaluating folktales to teach safety to Hmong farmers

Michele Schermann, Penny Bartz, John Shutske, Mai Kia Moua, Pa Chia Vue, Tou Thai Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Many Hmong refugees continue their cultural tradition of farming in the United States. The purpose of this project was to evaluate culturally based storytelling as a method to convey farming safety information to Hmong families. Hmong have an oral tradition; spoken stories are used to teach about heritage, as well as personal and social values, and end with a lesson or moral that can apply to their lives. Stories from "Orphan Boy the Farmer" illustrate hazards, behaviors, consequences, and control strategies related to farm work typical of Hmong farming in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The message of the 3 stories is that the successful farmer works safely and keeps his children safe from injury. Three stories were read, in Hmong, at 6 events in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Data were collected from 118 participants using focus group discussions. Transcripts were translated and analyzed to identify ideas and reactions to the stories expressed by participants. Findings indicate that storytelling was an appealing delivery method for most of the participants of this study. Participants were able to recount story content pertaining to farming safety and relate messages to their experiences dealing with hazards; unanticipated findings uncovered barriers to adopting safe practices. Several aspects of the storytelling performance influence its effectiveness. Development of folktale content and implementation of storytelling performances are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of agromedicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007


  • Agriculture
  • Evaluation
  • Farmer
  • Folktales
  • Hmong
  • Minnesota
  • Safety
  • Storytelling
  • United States
  • Wisconsin

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