Oct 7, 2019
Ilda Martinez was 3 years old when she arrived at a migrant Head Start center in Plant City, Florida. Her first language was Mixtec, an indigenous dialogue of Oaxaca, Mexico. She learned Spanish and then English in Head Start programs. These migrant and seasonal programs are critical resources for families like Ilda’s that move several times a year to harvest crops, from blueberries in North Carolina to strawberries in Florida and asparagus in Michigan. The work is arduous, the weather can be brutal, and housing situations are often meager. Less noted is that farm work requires significant skill and commitment. As National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association executive director Cleo Rodriguez explains, without migrant farmworkers, the US agricultural sector would collapse. Ilda's childhood in Head Start led her to the NMSHSA Internship Program, which brings young people to Washington for eight weeks each year, an opportunity that as Ilda describes, is game changing. As Ilda explains, the characteristic that best defines migrant families is resilience.And remember her name because Ilda will be an influential voice for social justice well into the future.