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

Abstract

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
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ABSTRACT. 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 Michele A. Schermann is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minn, USA. Penny Bartz is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minn, USA. John M. Shutske is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minn, USA. MaiKia Moua is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minn, USA. Pa Chia Vue is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minn, USA. Tou Thai Lee is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minn, USA. The authors gratefully thank all the Hmong focus group participants in Minnesota and Wisconsin for generously sharing their experiences, insights, and time; and the 3 anonymous reviewers whose comments were so influential in revising this article. Funding for this project was provided by NIOSH Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative 1 R01 OH004215–01 for the research that led to the creation of the safety folktales, the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, Rapid Agricultural Response Funds for storytelling evaluation in Minnesota and publication of “Orphan Boy the Farmer,” and the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield, Wisconsin, for storytelling evaluation in Wisconsin. Address correspondence to: Michele A. Schermann, Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1390 Eckles Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108-6005 (E-mail: scher019@umn.edu).

Keywords

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

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