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Monday, May 23, 2016

Lake Apopka Reaches Lake Nona

Jeannie Economos, the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator for FWAF along with Dale Slongwhite, Author of “Fed Up: The High Cost of Cheap Food” and Becky Wilson, AmeriCorps Volunteer, had the opportunity to speak with close to 130 junior year high school students at Lake Nona High School in Southeast Orlando, Florida. One of their incredible History teachers, Ms. Boujaber-Diederichs dedicated an entire class day to Lake Apopka Farmworkers. All seven periods of her students had a chance to learn about the history of pollution and environmental racism on Lake Apopka.  Jeannie shared her extensive knowledge of the pesticide pollution on the muck farms, and Dale added poignant voices of Farmworkers from her book, including Ms. Geraldean Matthews.  



Geraldean has been a leader for former Lake Apopka Farmworkers, and has been in the fields since she was a young girl. Now she is in the hospital, dealing with health complications likely caused by her many years of pesticide exposure. Her voice leaps off the page when Dale shares her words, and students were moved by her. In one class period, a student kindly suggested they make a card for Geraldean in the hospital. The suggestion manifested a beautiful, colorful card that many students decorated and signed. Jeannie delivered the card to Geraldean in the hospital and was moved to see how much it meant for Geraldean to receive a card from a group of kids that wanted to lift her spirits. We always enjoy sharing stories, knowledge, and the beautiful quilts, and it becomes even more meaningful when we get so very much in return. 


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