March 23, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU CAMP Celebrates National Farmworker Awareness Week

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) will celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week March 25-31.

Arturo S. Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers of America, will present the history, present state, and future of the farmworker movement at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 26, in Pound Hall Auditorium, which is located on VSU’s Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus at the intersection of Patterson Street and Pendleton Drive. This event is free of charge and open to all faculty, staff, students, alumni, retirees, and friends of the university.

Founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers of America has grown “into a powerful voice for farmworkers,” one that pushes for immigration reform and worker rights legislation. Rodriguez is leading the organization “in bringing about meaningful change for farmworkers by making it easier for them to organize and negotiate union contracts. He seeks to fundamentally transform agriculture by creating jobs offering workers decent pay, comprehensive health coverage, retirement security, protections against toxic pesticides, job security, and guarantees against discrimination and sexual harassment.” With a focus on building a strong, viable agricultural industry, his goal is also to preserve the United States food supply.

Long-Sleeved Shirt Drive

Also on Monday, March 26, CAMP will kick off a Long-Sleeved Shirt Drive, a national effort to collect long-sleeved shirts to help protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure and heat-related stress.

“Pesticide exposure is one of the many dangers to agricultural farmworkers,” shared Alma Young, director of CAMP at VSU. “While pesticides are needed to grow and protect the crops, for those who work in the fields, they can produce many immediate health effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and rash, as well as long-term effects, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, among others. Additionally, farmworkers experience heat-related illnesses, such as sunburn, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, due to wearing improper clothing.

“One way farmworkers can protect themselves is to cover all skin areas while working. Ideally, they should wear clean, cotton, long-sleeved shirts that are light colored. However, access to affordable clothing and washing machines is often a limitation for many farmworkers.

“CAMP is working with local farmworkers to educate them on the issue, as well as provide them with donated shirts.”

Shirts may be dropped off at VSU’s West Hall, Student Union, Health Sciences and Business Administration Building, Student Recreation Center, Odum Library, Hugh C. Bailey Science Center, Nevins Hall, and Education Center between now and Thursday, April 26.

National Farmworker Awareness Week

Young said that National Farmworker Awareness Week is designed to bring attention to farmworker issues, including their living and working conditions, and to honor the contributions they make to the health and wellbeing of others. Because 85 percent of produce is handpicked in the United States, these men, women, and children dedicate their working lives to ensuring fresh fruits and vegetables make their way from the farm to the table, thus feeding the nation.

An estimated two to three million people work in the fields in the United States.

College Assistance Migrant Program

The College Assistance Migrant Program at VSU was formed during the 2016-2017 academic year with a $2.1 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Education Office of Migrant Education. Its mission is to build a bridge to higher education by identifying, recruiting, and retaining students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers — or the children of these workers — and guiding them throughout their first year at the university.

Students accepted into CAMP at VSU receive scholarships covering the cost of room and board, tuition and required fees, academic supplies, and necessary transportation, as well as a small monthly stipend. They also receive a host of support services, including tutoring, mentoring, and counseling. This program gives them the tools necessary to continue being a productive and successful member of the university community throughout their second, third, and fourth years of study.

Please contact Alma Young at (229) 253-2861 or to learn more about National Farmworker Awareness Week activities or CAMP at VSU.

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