Pharmacy students setting up shop for farm workers

University of Georgia College of Pharmacy students are seeking monetary donations for waterproof work boots for the Farm Worker Family Health Program, an experience where students provide health care services to farm worker communities in rural southwest Georgia.

From June 7-19, 18 pharmacy students will journey to Ellenton Clinic in Moultrie for this year’s program. As part of their service-learning trip, the students will offer full pharmacy services to nearly 1,000 farm workers and their families.

Annually, the participating pharmacy students collect donations to go toward the program. This year, the students are raising money to provide much-needed boots for the farm workers.

“A goal of the program this year is to provide waterproof work boots for every worker. Through June 1, we are collecting money to buy them,” said Trina von Waldner, the college’s director of continuing education and outreach.

Due to their working conditions, farm workers are often prone to foot injury and infection. Since they work in irrigated fields and are exposed to farm chemicals, they require sturdy foot protection to continue their work.

“The biggest thing is some of the health problems farm workers face,” von Waldner said. “They work long hours in hot, sunny weather. They have foot, musculoskeletal and eye problems related to the work.”

Since many farm workers labor until sunset, the students will open the mobile clinic in the evenings during the two-week program. During the day, they will provide health education to school-age children and manage medical records along with pharmacy services.

“The program is a 21-year sustained academic partnership between six colleges,” von Waldner said. “All kinds of students-nursing, dental hygiene, physical therapy, psychology and pharmacy-from the colleges participate. The students learn about working on a professional team and helping with public health initiatives.”

The institutions involved are UGA’s College of Pharmacy and College of Public Health, Emory University’s Nell Hodgson School of Nursing, Georgia State University’s physical therapy department and the dental hygiene programs at Darton College, University of West Georgia and Clayton State University.

Along with the monetary donations for boots, the students seek additional items to send to the workers and the families. The desired donated items are:

  • Men’s long-sleeve shirts
  • Clothing and shoes in good repair
  • Baby diapers, wipes, cribs, baby gates and car seats
  • Washcloths, towels and bedding items
  • Rubber rain boots
  • White socks for farm workers
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Coloring books and small toys for children
  • Ibuprofen bottles
  • Anti-fungal cream
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Muscle rub
  • Artificial tears
  • Multivitamins


Donated items can be dropped off in Room 401 of the College of Pharmacy. Monetary donations, which will be accepted through June 1, can be sent to College of Pharmacy, care of Elise Fortson, 250 W. Green St., Athens, Ga. 30602.

Checks, which are tax deductible, can be made payable to the UGA Foundation with FWFHP on the memo line.

“This program helps farm workers who may not have access to health care,” von Waldner said. “We do a concentrated push to help these rural communities.”

To learn more about donating, contact Trina von Waldner at 706-542-4539 or

— Molly Berg, News Service