Contact: Robert Crumley, Director of Communications

Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP)

202-223-9889, x 140

Migrant/seasonal farmworking children, ages 10-18, win essay and art contest.

Working children encouraged to use art and literature to reflect on the impact of work and life goals.

Washington D.C. September 05, 2013 –Twelve migrant and seasonal farmworker children, ages 10-18, are recognized for expressions of thier lives spent working the agricultural fields of America.

Children across our nation submitted descriptive essays and powerful posters about how working in the fields, and migrating with the seasons, affected their future goals. The theme, Cultivating Brighter Futures, encourages youth to look at the world through a lense of endless possibilities. Instead of focusing on the cultivation of food, we want youth to focus on themselves – to help plant thought-seeds of their own success, and cultivate them toward victory.

Top winners in each of the four categories will be flown to Washington DC for our national conference in September. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for each category will be printed on a calendar, and appear in AFOP’s September issue of the Washington Newsline which is distributed to each of our 52 member agencies. Additionally, each winner receives a cash prize to be used for school related needs.

Winning essays

Ages 10-13:

1st Prize – Maria Enerida Patiño, 13, Homestead, FL

2nd Prize – Lesly Zamudio, 12, San Luis, AZ

3rd Prize –Dulce Melany Chavarra, 12, Immokalee, FL

Ages 14-18:

1st Prize – Maribel Corona, 15, Homestead, FL

2nd Prize – Stephanie Herrera-Gonzalez, 17, Bakersfield, CA

3rd Prize – Maria de Jesus Gonzalez, 16, Eau Claire, MI

Winning art

Ages 10-13:

1st Prize – Jaqueline Vargas, 13, San Luis, AZ

2nd Prize – Maria Enerida Patiño, 13, Homestead, FL

3rd Prize – Dulce Melany Chavarra, 12, Machipongo, VA

Ages 14-18:

1st Prize –Javier Alejandro Soto-Gonzalez, 15, Bakersfield, CA

2nd Prize – Jovani Pacheco-Ramirez, 16, Russellville, KY

3rd Prize – Isabel Bautista Martinez, 16, Frankfort, IN

Winning essays and artwork will also be compiled into a booklet and presented to key members of Congress. The goal is to raise awareness of the discriminatory agricultural exemption in the current federal child labor law. As the law currently allows, children as young as 12 are legally allowed to work for an unlimited number of hours outside of school in our nation’s fields and orchards. Despite agriculture being consistently ranked the most dangerous occupation in America for children, there are an estimated 300,000-500,000 children working to harvest the fruits and vegetables that end up on our tables.

Burdened with balancing school and work responsibilities, experiencing health injuries related to pesticide exposure, musculoskeletal problems from working too hard while bones are still forming, and the prevalence of accidents with farm machinery, their futures are too frquently no different from their present.

About Children in the Fields Campaign:

The campaign strives to improve the quality of life of migrant and seasonal farmworker children by advocating for enhanced educational opportunities and the elimination of discriminatory federal child labor laws in agriculture. Children in the Fields Campaign is a project of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a national federation of non-profit and public agencies that provide job training and services for America’s farmworkers.