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Introduction: Farmworkers are one of the populations most vulnerable to climate change. In addition to disproportionate exposure to climate-intensified hazards such as extreme heat and wildfire smoke, many farmworkers face situational and psychosocial stressors that also impact their health.

Methods: We conducted open-ended interviews with 16 farmworkers in Southcentral Idaho during June-August 2023 as part of a digital storytelling project in partnership with the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils (IORC). Interviews assessed participants’ experiences with climate change, perceived impacts on their health, and strategies and barriers to protecting themselves. Bilingual (English/Spanish) study staff translated and transcribed all video recordings verbatim, and we abstracted representative quotes from interviews.

Results: Participants primarily discussed the health impacts of heat, recounting personal experiences and stories of other farmworkers feeling dizzy, wanting to vomit, or passing out from occupational heat stress. Despite these experiences, they reported feeling like they needed to keep working regardless of the conditions in order to get paid and support their family. Experiences with climate change were underscored by participants’ discussions of co-exposure to situational and psychosocial stressors such as lack of access to healthcare, poor housing without air conditioning, and racism, discrimination, and fear of family separation.

Discussion: This project highlights farmworkers’ first-hand experiences regarding climate change and underscores the interconnected impacts of occupational, environmental, and psychosocial stressors on their health and wellbeing. These findings emphasize the importance of shifting the burden of climate resiliency from individual farmworkers to systemic workplace, residential, and community interventions.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.