Skip Navigation

Farm Worker Project

Fundraiser for the Project

The Emory PA Program is proud of its history of community involvement and collaboration. See a video of one on the many volunteers See PA faculty member Karen Newell talking about the project


2016 Summary - Gnats, mosquitoes, and hot days equal the best experience of an Emory Physician Assistant student’s senior career!  Emory University Physician Assistant students working under the direction of Attending Physicians from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and PA-C faculty traveled to South Georgia to offer free health services to migrant farm workers and their families.  The South Georgia Farmworker Health Project founded in 1996 by Tom Himelick in collaboration with the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (SOWEGA AHEC) the Georgia Farmworker Health Program State Office of Primary Care. 

Each day despite the very hot weather, Emory PA students kindly and gracefully served migrant farmworkers and their families.  They smiled with them, laughed with them, and made jokes (with the help of their interpreter of course) with them.  There were connections made that surpassed socioeconomic backgrounds, race, and even language.  I have never witnessed a more beautiful exchange between humans and was more than impressed by how our students represented Emory. 

Professional interpreters help carry boxes off of our cargo trucks, Attendings stuff goodie bags with socks, water bottles, and condoms, teens from TeenCorp  fill paper bags with canned food and cleaning products, senior citizens from the local community unload boxes filled with donated clothing, children of doctors were dragged along on their summer break YouTube craft ideas for a craft making station for the children of the migrant farmers, young adults bring moments of joy to children by painting their faces or rock babies to sleep by singing lullabies while in their arms, and local churches cook the very best southern cuisine for hard working volunteers.  If you stand still in the center of what might appear to be chaos, you feel an energy, a cadence of sorts that is so incredible.  People doing good just because and only because they choose to, that’s what’s so terrific about this Project, it touches every single body involved in such a moving way that even on those long days momentum propels you to continue doing the work that brought you to Emory in the first place.

In just two weeks, working under the direction of 7 Attending Physicians and 4 Residents from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and 23 PA-C’s, Emory Physician Assistant Program’s interdisciplinary approach to service learning made it possible to provide health services for 1,531 patients with 50 Emory Physician Assistant Students, 50 Emory Physical Therapy Students, 25 Emory Medical Students, 25 Valdosta State University Marriage and Family Therapy Students, 30 Mercer University Physician Assistant Students, 30 Bainbridge College Nursing Students, and 41 Spanish and Kreyol Medical Interpreters.

So you see, the success of the Project is not solely in the number of patients that are served, it’s in the number of volunteers who have been touched in a positive way and go on to inspire others with this same inspiration.  And on and on and on, this “good” spirals…maybe one person really can change the world.

 Alisha Thym, MA

Community Projects Coordinator

As noted elsewhere, our collaborative service-learning project with south Georgia partners, the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project, has become an important component of our Program. Typically 35-40 senior PA students work with faculty and physicians, providing free care to 1200-1600 farmworkers and family members in south Georgia over twelve days of makeshift clinics in June. In 2003, the Program was recognized as a finalist for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration. In 2010 the  American Academy of Physician Assistants and the PA Foundation, awarded the project the Host City Prevention Campaign in conjunction with the 2010 AAPA Conference in Atlanta. See the 2011 Outstanding Service/Volunteer Program of the Year: South Georgia Farmworker Health Project  

See the article in  PA Professional  about the project. See the Emory news article In the Field with the SGFHP

Article in Emory Medicine

See all the photos and current updates on the SGFHP Facebook page

See all the photos and updates on the Teen Corps Facebook Page

Our efforts in south Georgia would not have been possible without the assistance of many partners. We greatly appreciate the organizations, individuals, and companies that have joined us in providing care to this underserved population. Please take a moment to view the list of some of our partners.

The South Georgia Farmworker Health Project was developed in 1996 in collaboration with the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (SOWEGA AHEC) in Albany, Georgia, and in collaboration with the Georgia Farmworker Health Program, State Office of Primary Care. The initial projects were in Echols  and Lowndes counties. In June 1998, the Project was expanded to include a week in Decatur county. The Decatur County Health Board of Health / GA Migrant Health Program has been a key partner in that Project.

Working under the direction of physicians from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory School of Medicine, and PA faculty from the Emory PA Program, students and faculty provide free health care to farmworkers and their dependents in far south Georgia during a peak period of the summer agricultural season. Community volunteers participate as interpreters, as health care providers, and provide logistic support and supplies for the Project.  Read a student reflection of the experience.

The Project has grown under the leadership of founder Tom Himelick, PA-C, MMSc from its initial one week outreach, providing care to approximately 150 farmworkers, to a two week outreach providing free care to 1200-1700 farmworkers and family members. The Project has helped document the need for these services in South Georgia, and has thus contributed to the expansion of on-going services for Farmworkers in Echols and Decatur counties.

The Emory PA Program was honored to be one of three finalists for the 2003 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration. We celebrate our collaboration with the Decatur County Health Department and other community partners in the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project (Decatur County). Georgia State University produced a very nice video presentation about the Project.


The Project seeks to not only provide care to a medically underserved and economically important population in Georgia, but to also increase the awareness and competency of health care providers and students in working with this population. It is clear that many Americans do not see how their fruits and vegetables reach their stores and tables. The Project gives all those involved a better understanding of this process, and appreciation for all those involved.

Medications, vitamins, clothing and other items (i.e., sunglasses, caps, toothbrushes, toothpaste) have been graciously donated by corporate partners in the past. This is an ongoing need for the Project.  For more information on items needed or to offer a donation, please contact us here.

A number of companies and other organizations have supported the Project. Please view our partners page.