Education and Artisanal Mezcal Production in Oaxaca, Mexico

A characteristic of growth in the global wine industry for some decades is slowly creeping into artisanal mezcal production in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca. That is, small producers are using their new-found disposable income to educate their children, with a view to increasing manufacture in a sustainable fashion while at the same time improving sales through tapping new markets.

Oaxaca is where most of Mexico’s mezcal, the typically high alcohol content agave-based spirit, is distilled. In the early years of this decade the state began to witness a dramatic increase in sales of mezcal, both in the domestic market and for export to the US and further abroad. Mezcal tourism was born. Visitors began to make a pilgrimage to primarily the state capital and its central valley production regions, coming to learn about artisanal production, to sample and buy for home consumption, to educate themselves and their staff with a view to attracting sales at bars and mezcalerías, and to consider a business plan for export to foreign and to non-Oaxacan Mexican markets.

Lidia Hernández and Baneza García are representative of this sweeping new trend in Oaxacan mezcal production, not because they are young women (in their early twenties), but because of education. In both cases their parents, integrally involved in family artisanal distillation dating back generations, did not progress beyond primary school. Ms. Hernández has recently completed law school at the state run university and Ms. García is in third year industrial engineering at a private college. Both, however, work in the mezcal business and are using their education to advance the economic wellbeing of their respective families, and to preserve and improve the industry. And of course as is typical in virtually all families which produce artisanal mezcal, both began learning how to make the spirit at a very early age, literally upon taking their first steps.

The impetus for the meteoric growth in the industry occurred in the mid-1990s with the introduction of Mezcal de Maguey’s brilliant “single village mezcal” marketing, with other brands following suit (i.e. Pierde Almas, Alipus, Vago). Virtually all artisanal producers began experiencing a dramatic increase in sales. Initially the new-found wealth meant the ability to buy toys such as flat screen TVs, new pick-up trucks and the latest in computer technology. But then a curious phenomenon began to emerge in families, not only those with ready access to the export market, but those in which domestic sales had begun to skyrocket. More families began perceiving the value in higher education, creating opportunities both for their children and for their own advancement. Therefore they began to divert funds in this new direction.

To best understand the part these two women have already begun to play in the mezcal trade, we must step back several years to industry changes which began to impact the Hernández and García families, and of course many others. But before doing so we should note that lawyers don’t just learn the law, and industrial engineers don’t just learn how to design buildings and factories. Higher education impacts the ways in which we think more generally, how we process information, our spatial perception of the world, as well as about options for dealing with change and adaptation. But still the pedagogic strategies these women have been learning are rooted in their particular disciplines. And while palenqueros with a lack of formal education do not necessarily understand the intricacies, niceties and full impact of the foregoing, at least today in Oaxaca they do get it; that is, the broad though not fully digestible positive implications for the family of supporting higher education of their progeny.

If we accept that it takes an average of eight years to mature an Agave angustifolia Haw (espadín, the most common type of agave used to make mezcal) to the point at which it is best harvested to be transformed into mezcal, and that it was only about 2012 that producers, farmers and brand owners began to in earnest take notice of the “agave shortage” (more appropriately put as the dramatic increase in price of the succulent), then we are still a couple of years away from being inundated with an abundance of the agave sub specie ready to be harvested, baked, fermented and distilled. The phenomenon has been created by both businesses from the state of Jalisco sending tractor trailers to Oaxaca to buy up fields of espadín, and the mezcal boom. The latter has resulted in many palenqueros of modest means all of a sudden experiencing a dramatic increase in sales and corresponding extra income for the family, albeit now having to pay much more for raw material.

Communities are struggling with waterways above and below ground being chemically altered by distillation practices and wastewater, wild agave being stripped forever from landscapes, and several aspects of sustainability. At the same time regulatory stresses abound; from discussions with palenqueros and others in the industry, it is clear that the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (the mezcal regulatory board, or CRM) is exerting pressure by “encouraging” palenqueros to become certified, and whether by design or not then adversely impacting those who do not comply by making it more difficult for them to eke out a living selling the distillate. The movement has been spearheaded by those who believe that uncertified agave spirit should not be termed “mezcal” nor sold and certainly not exported as such. It is of course trite to suggest that there are implications regarding taxation.

Lidia Hernández’s parents are in their early 50s. They have three children aside from Lidia, and all help in the family business; 30-year-old Valente lived in the US for a few years then returned home at the request of his mother and is now a full-time palenquero, 27-year-old Bety is a nurse who helps out with mezcal on her day off, and 16-year-old Nayeli is in high school in an education system known as COBAO, a hybrid between public and private to which many bright students in rural communities have access. While Lidia is writing her law school thesis she is working in the family palenque in Santiago Matatlán full time. After completing her dissertation she intends to continue on with mezcal until she believes that her expertise is no longer required on a continual basis. Even then, she will use her skills to advance the economic lot of the family.

Lidia attended public school. While initially she was interested in history and anthropology, because Oaxaca did not offer that program at the university level she opted for law. “I wanted to help people, to defend them because regular Oaxacans are really not very good problem solvers, at least when it comes to dealing with the law, police, family issues, business plans, and so on,” she explains. By age eight she had learned about and participated in virtually all steps in mezcal production. Early on she realized she could help grow the family business, using her new skills to help navigate through the rules and regulations in a changing mezcal industry. For in excess of the past year she has been:

• Helping her parents and brother with the paperwork required to become a palenque certified by CRM
• Charged with the process of coming up with an attractive brand name for the spirit the family has been distilling for generations, and working with a graphic designer regarding labelling and bottle style
• Assessing market trends in ABV and desirable nuances in agave species and sub-species
• Learning about taxation, transportation and export, and prerequisites for bottling on the premises
• Determining the best avenues for investing family funds in order to grow the business while at the same time exploring government assistance programs.

Lidia sums it up:

“Of course down the road once all is in order and the family business is certified and is running more efficiently and productively, and profitability is where we think it can be, I’ll get a job working as a lawyer, perhaps for government; but I’ll always be there for my family and continually strive to help produce high quality mezcals at market driven prices.”

Baneza García’s mother is 43. Her father died of alcohol related ailments three years ago at age 40. There are six children in the family ranging in age from 9 – 25. The two youngest are in primary and junior high and the next oldest attends high school at a COBAO. The eldest completed junior high and now works in the family tomato growing business. Baneza and a younger brother attend a private university just outside of the city, both studying industrial engineering. Baneza is in third year of a five year program. She and her brother rent an apartment close to school, but return home to the family homestead in San Pablo Güilá on weekends and for holidays. The extended family all helps out in the mezcal business which was started in 1914 by Baneza’s great grandfather. The family includes her aunt and uncle who are slowly assuming more responsibility, yet are still learning from Baneza’s grandfather Don Lencho.

The García family’s palenque became certified a few years ago, when an opportunity arose to sell mezcal which now reaches, of all places, China. More recently Baneza and family have been working with a different brand owner to produce mezcal which they are on the cusp of bottling and shipping to the US.

The Hernández and García families are in very different circumstances. Nevertheless, there is a common thread in the education of both Lidia and Baneza; utilizing the skills and opportunities to ultimately advance their respective family businesses.

Baneza is interested in both improving efficiency in her family’s mezcal production, and reducing adverse environmental impact of traditional practices. With regard to the former, although her family is still resistant to the idea, she is interested in giving more thought to replacing horsepower currently used to crush the baked sweet agave, with a motor on a track directly above the tahona, similar to that employed in other types of Mexican agave distillate production. The heavy limestone wheel and shallow stone/cement pit would remain thereby not altering flavor profiles, often the result when for example metal blades in an adapted wood chipper or on a conveyor belt are employed.

Regarding environmental impact, Baneza is working on ideas to transform otherwise waste product such as discarded agave leaves and the spent fiber produced at the conclusion of distillation, into commodities of utility. Both materials have traditionally found secondary and tertiary uses (i.e. the latter, that is the bagazo, being used as compost, as mulch, as a principal ingredient in fabricating adobe bricks, for making paper, and as the substratum for commercial mushroom production); but the bounds of ingenuity are endless, especially as learned in the course of a five year program in industrial engineering. The family has already adopted Baneza’s suggestion for recirculating water in the distillation process, rather than the more costly and typical (at least when water was not as scarce a commodity) practice of simply discarding it.

The application of Baneza’s classes in industrial psychology will have a long-term effect on how her family views its place in Oaxacan society:

“It’s a matter of convincing my family, through discussion, illustration and perhaps trial and error, that there are many ways to improve production which will ultimately lead to an easier and more self-fulfilling life for me and my relatives, and better sustain our industry.”

Lidia Hernández and Baneza García are not alone. They are representative of a much broader trend. Both young men and women who are children of palenqueros without higher education, exemplify change in the Oaxacan artisanal mezcal industry. I have spoken with students and graduates in business administration, tourism, linguistics, amongst other university programs, and their stories are similar: help the family artisanal mezcal business in Oaxaca. Then, down the road embark upon an independent career while maintaining an integral connection with the family’s spirit distillation.

Certified Nursing Assistant Certification – How to Get Certified As a Nursing Assistant

What is certified nursing assistant certification? Do you need to become certified to work as a certified nursing assistant anywhere? Where do I get certification? Certified nursing assistants are individuals that work closely with nurses and other members of the medical team. In the United States as well as in other countries, a nursing assistant must pass certification to be able to work and earn as a nurse.

CNA certification is your key to earning a lucrative career as a nursing assistant. You can also attain rewarding experiences when it comes to caring for patients personally and being able to witness first hand medical techniques and procedures. Certification is important in so many ways; here are several reasons why you need certification for any type of medical profession or field of work:

1. Certification aims to create a standard in providing utmost patient care and wellness. Without certification, patient care would be haphazard and with no standardized system, mistakes or errors in handling patients and various nursing tasks are sure to happen.

2. Certification will create a common ground for all newly graduated trainees to work. They may choose to stay certified and work locally or they may find better work opportunities in different fields and even consider working internationally.

3. Certification for nursing assistants creates a better admiration for CNA work. No longer are nursing assistants belittled for their work as aides or orderlies; they are now highly appreciated as an integral part of the medical team.

4. Certification will allow assistants to pursue higher education. They may choose to study to become registered nurses, nurse practitioners and even become clinical instructors for nursing assistants. There are so many opportunities that only CNA certification can offer.

5. Certification shows that you are highly skilled which may attract foreign employers as well. Imagine working as a nursing assistant in hospitals or specialty clinics in the Middle East, Europe and in many other amazing places where you have never been too. Your career can take you to great opportunities to travel, attain international freedom, establish a career in a foreign country and experience life which is impossible if you just stay home.

CNA certification starts right after CNA training. Training is only from 2 months to two years but this comprehensive training ensures that nursing assistants are trained in the right set of skills, knowledge and behavior needed for certification.

After passing training, graduates are encouraged to take certification exams right away so they can start earning right away as well. Certified nursing assistant certification is different from one state to another but usually it is a two-part test. The first part is a written exam that covers almost all the knowledge, skills and behavior you have learned while on CNA training. While this part may look very scary for some graduates, rest assured that it will only cover what you have learned and nothing more. This test is usually conducted by the nursing association that governs nursing assistants in your state.

The second part of CNA training is a skills test which is conducted by testing centers in your state. This also covers all the skills that you have learned while you were in training so you don’t need to feel apprehensive at all. Passing the written exam as well as the practical exam allows you to become certified.

Passing certification is a milestone for any nursing assistant. It marks the end of struggles to become a CNA and at the same time a start for more amazing employment opportunities ahead. But before you celebrate, you must also learn about maintaining your certification. Requirements to maintain certification may differ from one location or one state to another but most nursing associations require continuing education units to maintain certified nursing assistant certification. Here are some facts about continuing education:

· You must take continuing education training to remain certified in some states while others may not require certified nursing assistants to do so. You must inquire so you will never have to worry about losing certification.

  • Continuing education is all about learning new tasks, skills and knowledge that you can use in your own career field.
  • Continuing education may also be your chance to receive a higher pay grade or be promoted from your position. Management usually promotes qualified individuals and continuing education readies you for this.
  • Continuing education may be taken online or from nursing assistants schools or training centers. Ask your employers or inquire from your nursing association if they honor online education credits.

There are more and more people who work a full time career who choose to train for continuing education online since you can still attend work and learn at the same time. You may train right in the comforts of your own home and at you own desired pace as well.

  • Finally, continuing education will be your key in caring for patients better. Not all patients are the same but each one deserves the best high quality care that you have learned in CNA training and in continuing education for certified nursing assistants.

Getting ready for CNA Certification is the best way to get a head start on your nursing career. As early as training, digest all information as you possibly can. Take part in discussions and volunteer for skills training as well. Take notes and listen to lectures; do not excuse yourself in projects and reports but rather take part actively to make sure you understand concepts and skills that are being taught.

Training usually ends with on the job training for nursing assistants, participate and volunteer as much as possible during these special learning experiences. Talk to assistants and registered nurses to get a good idea of how working as a nursing assistant really feels like. On the job training is also your chance to decide whether this career is indeed really for you or if you should decide to take up future studies as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner.

CNA Education

Your CNA education (certified nursing assistant) will usually consist of a certain number of class hours and a certain number of clinical hours. Clinical hours are where you put the knowledge you learned in class into practice caring for people. There are all sorts of places that will allow students to practice within their facility. However, there are certain guidelines that have to be followed (those can vary from state to state), and there has to be adequate supervisor over the students. The patients have to be protected and kept from harm as much as possible even if the student is the one taking care of them.

Depending on the state requirements and the school program, your CNA education can take several weeks to a few months to complete. Once you have completed the program with a passing grade, you will most likely have to take some sort of state test. Once you pass that test you can start working and earning as a certified nursing assistant. This can increase your pay greatly as well as giving you more chances at finding better work. Many people are also looking for good insurance and benefits packages, and this may allow you to upgrade in those as well.

There are slight variations from state to state, but in some cases facilities can send employees for CNA education through some colleges and state facilities as well. This may be true in more than one state for certain types of establishments. Some job sites will even pay for a large percentage of the education and/or test as well. This is something that you might want to take the time to check into. You might have to sign an agreement to work for them for a certain amount of time, but it is better than paying for it yourself or taking out loans to get it.

Your CNA education can open up a whole new set of job opportunities for you. You can get work at different care facilities including; hospitals, long-term care, adult care homes, and even some doctor’s offices. While holding this position you will usually be responsible for the primary care of a patient. That includes things like helping them move around, bathing them, grooming them, and in some cases helping to feed them. It can be a lot of hard work some days, but many people also find it very satisfying.

What Is a Certified Public Accountant?

A Certified Public Accountant is the title given to all qualified accountants in America who have passed an exam known only as, the “Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.” They must also meet additional education from the state and experience requirements for certification as a CPA. Those who have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination but may have not completed the required on-the-job experience or have met it previously but in the meantime have lapsed any continuing education of the professional nature are, in many states, allowed the designation “CPA Inactive” or an equivalent phrase.

In most American states, only CPAs who get licensed are legally able to provide opinions on financial statements to the public attestation (including auditing). Some exceptions to this rule are Arizona, North Carolina, Kansas, and Ohio where the practice of auditing is not restricted, although the “CPA” designation is restricted.

Below the tier of CPA, some states in the U.S. have a lower tier of accountant qualification, often entitled “Public Accountant”-designated with the letters “PA”. However with only 10 states continuing to offer the designation of PA, the majority of states have closed the designation “Public Accountant” to new entrants. Most Public Accountants belong to an association known as the National Society of Public Accountants.

Some U.S. states may prohibit the use of particular designations such as “Public Accountant” or “Certified Public Accountant,” or even the abbreviations “CPA” or “PA”, by a person who isn’t certified as either a CPA or PA in that specific U.S. state. Because of that, in many circumstances, CPA’s from out of state are in fact restricted from using the “CPA” designation or letters unless a certificate or license from that state is obtained.

The state of Texas prohibits in addition, the use of the designations “auditor” and “accountant” by any person(s) who are not certified as a CPA in the state of TX, unless that individual is a CPA in a different state, a resident not of Texas, and meets requirements for practice in the state of TX by out-of-state CPA practitioners and terms.

Beyond the basic licensing and education requirements, most of the state boards require any applicants for CPA status to complete a special examination specifically regarding ethics. Many U.S. states require that ethics course include a review of that state’s specific rules for professional practice to ensure that each CPA is well educated for their particular state.

Medical Billing Or Medical Coding Certification – Do You Have To Be Certified To Get A Good Salary?

If you’re thinking about getting into the medical billing or medical coding field and think you have to be certified to get a good salary or higher wages there are a few things to consider first. You have probably heard a lot about certification. But do you really need to be certified to get a job in medical billing or coding or both and make more money?

The truth is you may not really need this certification. It’s a process of education and training and taking national exams but most employers are more concerned about whether you can do the job. Which is better – certification but not really capable or of being capable but no certification? As long as you can do the job that will undoubtedly be the hope of most employers.

Before you enter this field and whether or not you want certification you want to make sure you understand what medical billers and medical coders so. Maybe you won’t like the work after spending a lot of time and money on getting the education or training for it.

So you want to make sure that you’re going to like it first. You can do that by visiting the billing departments in local hospitals and clinics and visit billing services and asking if you can get an idea what these types of jobs entail and maybe get a look at what you would be doing in the future if you were to get a job with their company, hospital or clinic.

There are numerous certification programs covering a broad range. It is almost better to get some experience in this field before you try to get certified to really know that’s what you want to do and that it will help you by getting you a higher hourly wages or salary, which may not be the case.

Some of the job titles that require certification are Certified Claims Assistant Professional, Certified Coding Associate, Certified Coding Specialist, Certified Electronic Claims Professional, Certified Healthcare Reimbursement Specialist, Certified Professional Coder and several others.

So you can see it’s important to know the part of this field you want to focus on and it may mean working in some capacity in one of these health facilities or businesses to get a feel for that. Make sure to check this out before you sign up for any training for medical billing or medical coding certification too. Education or experience may be necessary for some of the jobs that don’t require certification but many may have apprentice or assistant job openings and still make a good salary or high hourly wages. Make sure to research it thoroughly so you know what you’re doing.