Statement Of Mary Harrison
Environmental Protection Agency
Aging Initiative Public Listening Session
April 3, 2003
University of South Florida Extension
I want to compliment you on having this meeting. You are targeting an issue that is so vitally important. We have medicine and doctors that have enabled us to extend our lives and our lifestyle is attributed to that. What you are addressing now is to add quality to those extended years that we have. Living a long time is important, but living a quality life is very, very important. Let me tell you about who we are and what we do. Many of you may not be familiar with the Cooperative Extension Service. It is a part of the University of Florida. It is part of a land grant university. Our goal is to research information and then channel that information down to the consumers themselves. We do this through professionally staffed offices in each of Florida's counties. We have a wonderful delivery system so it is a good way to get programs from the headquarters to the people because Extension Agents work directly with the people. Our goal is to provide the information to the people so they can make the changes that are needed to improve the quality of their lives. We have programs that address the problems of the elderly, some of those activities are supported by EPA. We work closely with them and their concerns about the environment and the health of the people. Some of the programs deal with nutrition, the environment and the lifestyle that you would use to address asthma, for example, or diabetes. What you are doing is trying to help these people. We do need to expand our programs so that people will realize the full extent of problems faced by the elderly in Florida. They stay in their homes, their energy is low, they do not clean up as they did, therefore dust and litter begin to be a problem. Because of their concern about injuries, they lock themselves in. The air quality deteriorates. We need more programs to address those issues and to get them to dispose of some of those things they wish to discard.