Seasonal Worker Training in Mexico

Daniel Aburto Vidana is from Mexico and began working for Bartlett Tree Experts in North Carolina on an H-2B visa in 2005. He started as a ground worker and became a tree climber specialist, crew leader, plant health care specialist, Certified Arborist and CPR instructor. Along the way, and with the help of Bartlett, he learned English. Still, he says, “After 13 years at Bartlett, I was pushing to do more in the company.”

In 2019, Bartlett assigned him to a position in Mexico, where he still lives. He’s been setting up and running an office there to support and continue the training of potential guest workers and H2B workers returning to Mexico.

“I found a place where I can help,” he says. “A group of committed people at Bartlett are helping me. It’s a big job. It can’t be done by just one person.”

In addition to the duties related to supporting and training guest workers, Aburto Vidana helps workers with obtaining their visas and sometimes even goes so far as to take them to the airport to get to their new jobs.

He decided to become a Certified Treecare Safety Professional and earn his TCIA Crew Leader Qualification credential to improve his safety-training methods, which he says now are the foundation for all the training he provides, as well as his communication skills. He received both credentials in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“The CTSP and the QCL training helped put it all together,” he says. “The CTSP training helps me a lot with communication with the guys. And the QCL is a great, great qualification that also helps with communication, especially with my crews and with my manager. It really helps with safety, too.”

His being bilingual bridges the language gap between the Spanish-speaking workers, including crew leaders at Bartlett and their supervisors, some of whom only speak English. The QCL training helps him bridge the cultural gap between them, which often causes a lot of miscommunication.

Daniel Aburto Vidana leads a training session for Bartlett Tree Experts. CTSP and QCL training help him communicate better with his crews, as well as bridge the cultural gap between them and their managers. Photo courtesy of Daniel Aburto Vidana.

“I’m in contact with the workers all the time, even on weekends, trying to close that gap,” he says. “The workers try to do something right and the bosses don’t understand.”

The culture in Mexico is very different from that of the United States, he says. Sometimes Mexicans don’t speak up when they don’t understand something or when they need help because they’re too shy or they don’t want to cause trouble. And their American bosses tend to express themselves in a very straightforward way that can seem cold to Mexicans.

Aburto Vidana believes the Qualified Crew Leader training is so valuable that he would like to translate the program into Spanish. “A lot of problems on these crews could be solved easily if the crew leaders had better communication skills, but because they don’t speak English, they can’t get the training, and they’re missing the chance to learn them.”

Although he knows the value of what he is doing in Mexico, Aburto Vidana is thinking about returning to the United States and plant health care once the office in Mexico is fully up and running.

“I love treating plants and dealing with customers,” he says.

For more about the Certified Treecare Safety Professional or Crew Leader Qualification programs, visit tcia.org.

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