WASHINGTON, DC (February 3, 2005) - Freelance photojournalist Laura Sikes of Alexandria, VA, is the recipient of the White House News Photographers' Association $5,000 Project Grant for her photographic essay "Poor From The Start," coverage of poor migrant workers living in DeSoto County, FL, the WHNPA Education Committee announced.
The agricultural industry that the migrant workers depend on to earn a living in central Florida was hit hard by the hurricanes and tropical storms that battered the state in 2004. "Their way of life may have been changed forever," Sikes said. A native of Jacksonville, FL, she has visited the area which is home to many low-wage workers and farming families. "With a mix of residential and seasonal migrant workers who come to work during the winter harvests, many workers fear little or no work this season because of the extensive crop damage from Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne," Sikes said.
"Although Florida newspapers will undoubtedly do a great deal of coverage of the reconstruction, I image it will almost all be local and Laura's approach will offer a look at one small, primarily agricultural region that was slammed by Mother Nature," WHNPA Education Committee chairman Leighton Mark said. "The grant will not only assist Laura in her project but will provide a national stage showing what these people are going through to put their lives back together."
"Through our grant program, the WHNPA is able to recognize and help our members pursue their passion for photojournalism," said WHNPA President Susan Walsh. "Our members are the best in the business. We are proud that we can help Laura continue her work so that others will be able to see and understand the world around us."
During Sikes' 20-year career her photographs have appeared in national and international publications and books, including Time, Life, andU.S. News & World Report.
More information on the White House News Photographers' Association and their awards can be found online at www.whnpa.org.