It’s a tolerable 40 degrees in Mount Dora, Florida, where 18-year-old Selena Zelaya is from. Instead of hanging out with friends or working at her part-time job at McDonald’s, Zelaya braved the freezing temperatures in DC to lobby on an issue close to her heart: Farmworker protections. It’s her second time lobbying in DC on this issue.
“I’m a very shy person. It takes a lot to make me talk,” Zelaya says. “But it was an issue I had to speak up about. When it’s something important, I like to speak my mind.”
Both of Zelaya’s parents are farmworkers in their home state of Florida, and Selena came back to DC this week to meet with congressional and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives to continue pushing for improvements to the weak and outdated Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which sets agricultural worker safety standards for pesticide use, but has not been updated or revised for more than 20 years. Public interest environmental group Earthjustice, Farmworker Association of Florida and several other farmworker advocacy organizations are leading the effort to push for these stronger protections.