At ABC Action News, we know it's the combination of all the communities that make Tampa Bay great to live in. That's why we've started a new series of reporting highlighting good things happening around town, discovering cool gems you may not know about, and uncovering the big news events impacting those areas.
On Friday, the Good Morning Tampa Bay team focused on Wimauma.
The tiny town is surrounded by open farmland and rows of taco trucks. Wimauma is known as a migrant farmworker community. But, if you look a little closer, you'll find families working hard to achieve their American Dream.
The number of migrant workers coming to Wimauma varies season by season. Some are permanent residents; others are temporary. Most need help to take care of their families or get established in a new place. For more than 40-years, the nonprofit Beth-El Farmworker Ministry has worked to fill that void.
Good Afternoon, Friends and Amigos is an after-school program on the campus of Wimauma's Reddick Elementary School.
The program is funded by the Hillsborough County Children's Board and sponsored by the Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services.
Students at RCMA Wimauma Community Academy who call themselves The Chicken Tenders love taking care of the chickens on the school's K-8 campus.
"We take care of them. We bathed them."
The coop sits next to a garden and hydroponics, all of which teach the students' life skills and even math.
"This is just an amazing place to work, an amazing school. I think we're a diamond in the rough and kind of a hidden gem in Wimauma," Mark Haggett, Principal at RMCA Community Academy in Wimauma said. "I kind of liked that. But a fantastic program of fantastic staff, families, the family engagement is so high here and they're so involved. They want what's best, just like any other parent wants for their kiddos."
There's a big effort by multiple people and organizations in Wimauma to make sure people have access to healthcare.
Baycare and Catholic Charities opened La Esperanza last year to those with no insurance.
Growth and development have been a huge challenge for people who live in South Hillsborough County.
Schools are also facing challenges. Sumner High School opened 18 months ago and is now already overcapacity.
In fact, Wimauma is the largest growing area in Hillsborough County Schools.
There's a very peaceful place in Wimauma that pays homage to the areas and owners' Native American History.
Wimauma is a more rural community with a lot of farmland and is also one of the last remaining places to develop in Hillsborough County.
One of the biggest concerns from people who live in this area is development.
Keeping the small-town feel is important to those who live here, while also adding the infrastructure to handle the future development.
Jackie Panameno is not one to sit still.
This Wimauma stay-at-home mom is a mover, a doer, a true force of nature.
So during the pandemic, Panameno "reflected on my life and my passions, so I decided to just go for it!"
Her passions? Fashion and recycling and they're perfectly expressed in her new business, Restyled Moda Boutique.
Experience ‘Real Florida’ with your family this weekend at Little Manatee River State Park in southern Hillsborough County. This local gem has miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, and one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in Southwest Florida.
A local woman in Wimauma decided to take on a new venture during the pandemic— a zoo!
Jenny Walker comes from an entire family of circus performers.
Prior to the pandemic she, her family and her animals traveled all over performing in different cities.
When all those came to a halt, she decided to let people come to her.
Dr. Jennifer Dames, principal at Reddick Elementary is so proud of her students that she sent picture after picture of kids to showcase.
"It was so hard to choose who to spotlight this morning because Reddick Elementary School is chock full of amazing students," Dr. Dames said.
Just a short drive from the UF research office in Wimauma is one of south Hillsborough County's hidden gems.
The Balm Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve is more than 5,000 acres of pristine Florida wildlife.
It's best known for its mountain biking trails but plenty of people come out to trail run, walk dogs and bird watch.
A nonprofit in Wimauma is training service dogs for veterans and first responders.
Valor Service Programs train dogs for mobility assistance and PTSD. The dogs can also work in hospitals, VA systems and fire stations.
The dogs are trained to open and close doors, retrieve objects and help someone off the ground.
They can also watch for signs of anxiety, stress or frustration.
It’s harvest day for a new crop of cascade hops.
Hops, the key ingredient in making beer primarily comes from the Pacific Northwest.
But University of Florida scientists have been working for five years to successfully grow them here at UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma.
In one lab at this University of Florida research facility in Hillsborough County, they are fighting diseases that kill strawberry crops including a new one that recently started plaguing farmers.
The fungus is called Neopestalotiopsis.