Glass of Sunshine
Every time you pour a glass of orange juice there’s a good chance it’s from my hometown. Highlands county is ranked as the third top producing citrus county in the state of Florida and therefore the roots of the citrus industry are entangled with the financial stability of my area. While the product of the farmers’ toil may be likened to sunshine, our history is anything but sunshine and rainbows. The citrus industry has been in a steep decline over the last twenty years due to diseases that kill the trees and devalue its fruit, natural disasters that drown 8 months of growing in twenty-four hours, and an overabundance of importing from foreign countries. In order to revitalize an industry that is the economic lifeline for my community we need to fund research opportunities that propose solutions to citrus greening, educate consumers on the importance of this commodity, and encourage large scale companies to start purchasing fruit from local producers vs. turning to foreign fruit.
Shelby Ball is an agriculture teacher in central Florida and is a graduate of the University of Florida (Go Gators!). She is currently teaching at the same high school where she attended as a student. She considers it one of her greatest honors to be able to serve the same program that helped shape her as a young adult. When not teaching, Shelby enjoys spending time with her dachshund Remington and binging Netflix.
Participant School & Location:
Avon Park High School
Avon Park, Florida
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