Fresno State students, faculty and staff helped produce an innovative series of Hmong language agricultural safety training videos for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The nine-part series, “Complying with Pesticide Laws and Regulations in California,” was released in December in partnership with the Fresno County University of California Cooperative Extension to better reach one of the area’s most recognized specialty farming communities.

The content hopes to promote a better understanding of personal protection equipment; pesticide handling, labeling and usage; and application permit and reporting requirements.

“[The Department of Pesticide Regulation] works with all types of farmers on pesticide issues, and it’s critical that they use these tools safely – regardless of the language they speak,” said Val Dolcini, the department’s director. “This video project, the first of its kind to use Hmong speakers, will help foster safer use of pesticides.”

Dr. Bill Erysian, a manager for research grants and related projects for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State, served as the program coordinator and a key liaison with the organizations. 

“This was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on,” Erysian said. “We brought together a unique group of agricultural specialists, farmers and students with professional video skills to create a high-impact set of educational videos that will be a key resource for years to come.”

The series encompasses 87 minutes of videos that were produced over the course of one and a half years by a team of eight Fresno State media, communications and journalism students. Students logged over 700 hours of work of recording and editing with guidance by faculty member Candace Egan.

Local UC Extension small farms adviser Dr. Ruth Dahlquist-Willard oversaw the content creation and direction with her co-worker Michael Yang, a highly-regarded liaison to area Hmong farmers for over 25 years.

“The filming was really unique for us,” Dahlquist-Willard said. “We didn’t use prewritten scripts, so the farmers who served as actors with [Yang] helped us create real-world and applicable content on the spot. Having the multi-camera crew gave the videos a professional look that made it easier to emphasize specific elements and add graphics and voiceovers.”

Mali Lee, a 2019 Fresno State graduate, oversaw most of the video editing and post-production work. The Fresno native also assisted in the language translation and closed captioning with Keng Vang, another Fresno State student.

Lee gained key experience with editing software and project management that has positioned her for other video production jobs in the Hmong community.

“This experience was a great springboard for my career,” Lee said. “I also had pride working on this project since my parents have helped my aunt and uncle raise and sell produce, so I learned a lot about the topic that I didn’t know before. There’s a special tie with many Hmong families and agriculture in this area, and this video helps bring them together in a new way.”

The video series will also be used by UC Extension workshops, agricultural outreach agencies and area media that includes a Hmong language agricultural show hosted by Yang. 

Erysian hopes this series will create future partnerships and video projects with the state, campus video production program and local UC Extension service.

A complete list of video topics and links include: