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BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Experts agree that one effective way to protect yourself against mosquitoes —and the diseases they can transmit — is to wear mosquito repellent. But for homeless people, getting access to this kind of protection can be difficult.
In response, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Extension Hernando County has launched Operation Skeeter Stop. Organizers will collect donated containers of mosquito repellent and distribute them to the Hernando County homeless community.
The program is accepting donations until Oct. 31, and staffers hope to collect at least 500 containers of repellent. During this time, the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HernandoExt/) will post weekly updates charting the progress toward this goal.
Operation Skeeter Stop is a collaboration among several UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County programs, including Florida Sea Grant, Florida Friendly Landscaping, 4-H Youth Development and Florida Master Gardeners, along with Hernando County Mosquito Control and the Florida Department of Health, said Brittany Scharf, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Florida Sea Grant agent.
Scharf, William Lester and Stacy Strickland organized Operation Skeeter Stop as part of the Zika Challenge, a UF/IFAS Extension program that gives Extension faculty the tools to spread public awareness about mosquito control. Lester is the UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County horticulture agent, and Strickland is the UF/IFAS Hernando County Extension director and agriculture agent.
Donations will be distributed by local charitable organizations that serve the homeless, said Lester. “Anyone is at risk for getting bitten by a mosquito,” Lester said, “so it’s important that those without easy access to repellent get the protection they need.”
Hernando County residents and anyone interested in donating mosquito repellent can drop off new, unopened containers at five locations:
UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Office
16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, FL
UF/IFAS Hernando County
Master Gardener Nursery
19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville, FL
Open 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays
Hernando County Government Center
20 North Main Street, Brooksville, FL
Hernando County Mosquito Control
15400 Wiscon Road, Brooksville, FL
Department of Health Hernando County
7551 Forest Oaks Boulevard, Spring Hill, FL
As part of Operation Skeeter Stop, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County faculty have produced two education videos that debunk some common mosquito myths and explain how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in home landscapes. Videos are available at http://extensioncontest.com/.
Those who view the videos can enter a prize drawing, said Scharf. Businesses interested in contributing prizes should contact the organizers.
Caption: Operation Skeeter Stop is accepting donations until Oct. 31, and staffers hope to collect at least 500 containers of repellent. Go to http://extensioncontest.com/ for more information. Photo by UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County.
By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, email@example.com
Sources: Brittany Scharf, 352-754-4433, firstname.lastname@example.org
William Lester, 352-754-4433, email@example.com
Stacy Strickland, 352-754-4433, firstname.lastname@example.org