Dolores Huerta Day of Service-Learning
A Community Initiative by Recuerda a César Chávez Committee
Since 2009 • Albuquerque, NM/Bernalillo County
The Dolores Huerta Day of Service
The Day of Service is an opportunity for students to learn about the history of César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, the farm workers’ movement, unions and sustainable agriculture. We provide hands-on learning to students in our community within open space environments, local farms and ecosystems. Students spend time planting seeds and trees, learn about food, their environment, and the importance of farm workers unions. Over the last two years due to the Covid-19 Pandemic we have been offering a Virtual Day of Service-Learning and activities with schools across the Albuquerque Public School District. Schools are able to participate remotely/virtually and do activities that highlight life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the Farm Workers Movement.
The Day of Service-Learning (DOS) is hosted by the Recuerda a César Chávez Committee (RCCC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico/Bernalillo County. In conjunction with Bernalillo County Open Space and La Plazita Institute, it brings together educators, healers, activists and artists to share knowledge, skills, and creativity with students at the La Plazita Gardens/Sanchez Farm Bernalillo County Open Space/ in Albuquerque’s South Valley.
Students who attend the Day of Service-Learning learn about the migrant farm workers’ movement, local food, culture and sustainability. It is in the honor of César Chávez, Dolores Huerta and the farm worker movement that we continue to educate and advocate for fair food and the fair treatment of farm workers near and far. We support our local farmers, local food system, and educate the future generation in the spirit of “Sí, se puede!”
Invitation to Schools
As a result of the diverse projects and family activities experienced at La Plazita Gardens/Sanchez Farm Bernalillo County Open Space, the Day of Service-Learning became its own event with invitations extended to schools.
Teachers are provided with a curriculum developed by the RCCC to use prior to the Service-Learning day to teach their students about César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and the farmworker struggle. In preparation for the day, participating schools receive a "what to expect/how to prepare your students" guide, along with educational material that includes a booklet about the UFW, the important legacy and social justice work of César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, as well as other curriculum suggestions.
The wonderful students, teachers, and community members that attend the Dolores Huerta Day of Service-Learning are central to the annual event. They are the people that we serve as we teach and share invaluable information about the farm workers movement and our connection to the land. The Day of Service-Learning has evolved over time and the last in-person gathering welcomed approximately 350 participants.
During the pandemic, for 2020 and 2021, our purpose was to find creative ways to continue to educate the students about Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez the Farm Workers Movement, farming, gardening, and about the environment. Our challenge was to find a way to continue this Day of Service Learning, but knowing we had to do it virtually. The Day of Service Coordinator and the sub committee collaborated with Sanchez Farms, Bernco Open Space and with Community partners to organize a limited number of onsite workstations that we could pre record and use this as a way to share with educators through social media. They created content for a social media campaign that reached over 5000 viewers. We provided the APS schools that were interested in this virtual learning with project support\assistance, learning packets, and collaborated with communities and farmers to provide the schools with care packets that included local\fresh produce for the students. The DOS coordinator and the subcommittee also coordinated a Food Drive for students, communities\organizations in need. This was in partnership with local communities, farmers and other organizations. These recorded videos are located on our Facebook page for viewing.
The History and Legacy Behind the Day of Service-Learning Honoring César Chávez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farmworkers Union
In 2017, the Day of Service was renamed after the life and work of Dolores Huerta in the spirit of “¡Si se puede!” or “Yes we can!” Originally from Dawson, NM, Dolores is the daughter of Juan Fernandez who labored as a coal miner, farm worker and union worker and served in the state legislature. Targeting grape growers, consumers and government officials, Dolores Huerta, César Chávez and committed UFW union members dedicated their lives to the cause as they shaped agricultural history. Together they advocated for better labor laws, social rights, improved working conditions and better treatment of thousands of farm workers nationwide. Cherished and honored by many, both César Chávez and Dolores Huerta were each awarded the Medal of Freedom (by President Clinton and President Obama respectively) and have received various awards in their lifetimes. Schools and streets have also been named after them. It is through the inspiration of César Chávez, Dolores Huerta and the farm workers movement that we share the knowledge and legacy with our community for generations to come.
The Day of Service originally began in the spring of 2009 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to provide family activities at Sanchez Farm (Bernalillo County Open Space) hours before the César Chávez Marcha y Fiesta in Albuquerque’s South Valley. It later evolved into its own day, originally named, the César Chávez Day of Service to honor his legacy as a civil rights leader and advocate for migrant farm workers. It was later named the Dolores Huerta Day of Service to honor her life as a strong advocate and her substantial contribution to the impact on migrant farm workers and unions in our country.
Activities began by blessing the tools and plants. We also provided maintenance on the primary acequia and smaller canals, surrounding our Fruit Tree and Medicine Wheel Garden. As the program began to grow, people in the community were invited to help and they cleared out the canals and maintained acequias with their own tools. We flooded the lower fields using the acequia and gathered in a large community circle to talk about the history of the open space, the mission at La Plazita Institute and the collaboration with the county. La Plazita Institute is a non-profit organization that engages with New Mexico’s youth, elders and communities, providing cultural healing services to Albuquerque’s vulnerable youth and their families.