The United Farm Workers (UFW) and Pesticides

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 4 Class Periods

Print a copy of Overhead 1
Make class reference sets of Handouts 1, 2, 3, & 4.
Make copies of Handout 5 for each student.


Overhead 1: Path of UFW
Handout 1: Path to the UFW
Handout 2: Pesticides
Handout 3: Cesar Chavez Bio
Handout 4: Dolores Huerta Bio
Handout 5: Research Questions
Computer Room


In this Explore lesson, students will learn about the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the two leading individuals that made their fight for justice and health recognition possible:

  • Cesar Chavez
  • Dolores Huerta

Students will research UFW’s creation, why it was necessary and its accomplishments.

Students will be able to:
Answer research questions through internet research.
ii. Write a brief history of the UFW using research.
iii. Create resumes of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta by researching their biography.

National Council for History in the Schools:
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 4B: Obtain historical data.
  • Standard 4D: Identify the gaps in the available records, marshal contextual knowledge and perspectives of the time and place, and construct a sound historical interpretation.
  • Standard 5A: Identify issues and problems in the past.

United States History Standards

  • Era 8 Standard 3C: (The Character of the War at Home) The student understands the effects of World War II at home.
  • Era 9 Standard 3: Domestic policies after World War II.
  • Era 9 Standard 4: The struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.

Teacher Background
If Applicable.

Resource Websites

UFW Homepage: http://www.ufw.org
UFW History: http://www.ufw.org/_page.php?menu=research&inc=research_history.html
UFW Recent Successes: http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?b_code=about_suc
UFW Audio/Video: http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?mode=list&b_code=res_multi
UFW Worker Voices: http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?b_code=org_wv
Why and how did the UFW begin, and what did it do?: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/~ljones/UFW/begin.html

Cesar Chavez
Cesar Chavez story:
César Chávez: Quest for Social Justice : http://projects.edtech.sandi.net/chavez/ccquestforsocialjustice/t-index.htm
Cesar Chavez Foundation: http://chavezfoundation.org/
Cesar Chavez Biography: http://www.lasculturas.com/aa/bio/bioCesarChavez.htm
Cesar Chavez on America’s Story: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/aa/chavez
The Fight in the Fields Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Struggle: http://www.pbs.org/itvs/fightfields/cesarchavez1.html
Cesar Chavez Academy (a school named after him): http://www.cesarchavezacademy.org/
Thompson Gale Hispanic Heritage: http://www.gale.com/free_resources/chh/bio/chavez_c.htm

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta Foundation: http://www.doloreshuerta.org/
Dolores Huerta bio: http://www.doloreshuerta.org/dolores_huerta_foundation.htm
Dolores Huerta on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolores_Huerta
Dolores Huerta on About.com: http://womenshistory.about.com/library/bio/blhuerta.htm
Thompson Gale Hispanic Heritage: http://www.gale.com/free_resources/chh/bio/huerta_d.htm
Dolores Huerta bio: http://www.lasculturas.com/aa/bio/bioDoloresHuerta.htm

Other Resources
FIELD (Farmworkers Institute of Education and Leadership Development): http://www.farmworkerinstitute.org/
The film, Woman of the Year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_of_the_Year
Women Farmworker: http://www.farmworkers.cornell.edu/publications/farmworker_women.htm
Women environmentalists: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj9707&article=970722



Day 1
1. Review Handout 4 from the previous lesson (in the student’s notebooks). After reading this handout students were posed a question:

  • Why did it take so much longer just to get organized into unions for the farm workers?

2. Discuss ideas students may offer.

3. When done, display Overhead 1 and explain this overhead offers clues to why it took so long to get farmers unionized. On it are events and legislation that led to the formation of the UFW in 1966. Show along the overhead the path taken to form the UFW. This is a quick look at what happened before issues of human rights were addressed by the United States for farmworkers.

4. After tracing the path on the overhead, inform students they are going to become experts in understanding the path that led to the UFW, why it happened, what it accomplished, and what it continues to do. At the end they will be able to answer the ponder question.

5. Research packets full of information will be provided to get them started on this project. At least one research day in the computer room is recommended to follow up on information missing.

6. Give students the class sets of the research materials provided (Handouts 1 - 4). These materials will help answer the research questions listed on Handout 5.

Days 2-3

7. Computer Room research. Visit http://www.ufw.org for research ideas/

8. After research, students write a two page brief history of the UFW and its accomplishments using their notes. They must address the ponder question in their brief UFW history. TEACHER NOTE: Optional product can be a poster.

Day 4

9. Back in the classroom. Referring to the bibliography materials provided on Cesar Chavez (Handout 3) and Dolores Huerta (Handout 5), students must also create a one-two page resume for each individual illustrating their work and life goals.

10. All products must be turned in. Posters can be displayed.

End by pointing out that the pesticide issue is still very much a problem in the United States. In the following lesson students will investigate current situations where pesticides are still a risk factor for workers.

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Research Notes from questions.
Brief report on the history of the UFW.
Resume of Cesar Chavez.
Resume of Dolores Huerta.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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