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Farming for Justice

With the help of Anna Montoya ’12, Rollins will soon be home to another organization, Youth and Young Adult Network (YAYA) of the National Farm Worker Industry (NFWI). The NFWI is an interfaith organization created to support farm workers who are organizing for equality and justice. YAYA’s purpose is to back the national network of young people also actively working for that purpose.

Montoya has a history with the Orlando chapter of YAYA and was approached by Lariza Garzon, a co-chair for the NFWI, to start a YAYA at Rollins. Garzon’s sister Nadia Garzon is a student at the Hamilton Holt School who has been helping Montoya in her efforts to create this chapter.

“[YAYA] is an ally group that works with lots of groups in the area,” Montoya explained. She said that the local YAYA spends a great deal of time focusing on the farmers in Apopka and that she would like the Rollins chapter to focus on them in part, as well. “We want it to be a place where different students, faculty and staff can come together to discuss Apopka.”

Montoya also emphasized that YAYA is going to be a completely student-driven organization and that, while she is willing to allow faculty and staff to contribute to the students’ work, it is important that this be a youth-focused organization. She does not want YAYA to fall victim to any sort of structure of power. “I don’t see this as being a hierarchy system,” she said, adding that to have presidents and vice presidents would take away the feeling of community that makes YAYA what it is.

Essentially, Rollins’ YAYA is going to be a resource tool for those who are interested in being more involved with the Farm Worker’s Ministry. “It will be a place for resources, involvement and education.” She said that YAYA has always been “a place where students can come together and talk about what they’re doing.”

Montoya was saddened by the fact that Rollins is not as connected to the community as other schools are. When she attended a rally held outside of a local Publix, she was the only Rollins student present and she realized that a change had to be made; she hopes that YAYA will bring together different groups on campus and give them the push to make a difference in the central Florida area. “We’re all working in the same community in the same capacity,” she commented, and therefore Rollins needs an organization like YAYA to unite them as well as motivate them.

Though the organization is just getting off the ground, Montoya is already planning a movie night and putting together an e-mail list for anyone who is interested. “I hope that this can be a way to leave my impact here at Rollins.”

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