Miss Florida Citrus Has a New Squeeze!
February 4, 2021 / Education
By Brenda Eubanks Burnette
In January, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) hosted virtual “Florida Citrus Squeeze” events at elementary schools throughout Florida with Chef Paula Kendrick and Miss Florida Citrus Leila Sabet. The program was announced in December to Florida food service personnel and teachers that participate in the division’s Harvest of the Month Program.
Participating schools were sent citrus, and virtual citrus-tasting events were scheduled with classrooms to expose students to all the great flavors of Florida citrus. In addition, “Produce at a Glance” cards and “I Tried it Stickers” were distributed to the students and referenced by Kendrick during the program.
Miss Florida Citrus was introduced as a special guest and explained how citrus gets from the grove to the grocery store. She also discussed the old adage of “beauty is on the inside,” for both people and for Florida citrus. Sabet told the students how citrus is part of a healthy lifestyle that can replenish nutrients after exercising.
“Spending my lunch breaks at work with the students is definitely a lunch well-spent,” said Sabet. “Our Citrus Squeeze conversations are necessary so we can talk about the nutritional value of citrus with elementary/middle school students, and ultimately, ensure we help instill these healthy habits at a young age.”
Sabet also engaged the students with fun facts on citrus, such as how grapefruit got its name (fruit grows on the tree in clusters, like grapes) and why Florida citrus plantings are still called groves rather than orchards (from the wild groves which sprouted up as the Indians and explorers made their way across Florida eating oranges and dropping the seeds). She ends her Citrus Squeeze sessions by asking students to guess how many different types of citrus exist, in addition to educating the students on the different types of citrus grown in Florida.
“The citrus industry is something I wish I learned more about when I was in elementary/middle school,” Sabet said. “Especially after speaking with Florida growers, citrus is not only a necessity to our daily diets, but also to Florida’s economic success. Students have been extremely receptive to our Citrus Squeeze presentations, giving feedback such as, ‘I didn’t like it … I LOVED it!’”
Classrooms were invited to share pictures of students with citrus smiles or other fun ways they are celebrating the Florida citrus season on the FDACS social media pages (Facebook: @FLFNW, Instagram: @FL_FNW). In addition, Miss Florida Citrus posted her photos of the virtual visits on all of her social media pages.
So far, she has participated in six Citrus Squeeze events, including Gadsden County, San Jose Elementary, John M. Sexton Elementary, South Grade Elementary and Walter Elementary, with three more scheduled over the next two weeks.
If you know of a school interested in participating in a Florida Citrus Squeeze event, contact Marina Lickson at Marina.Lickson@FDACS.gov or Brenda Eubanks Burnette at MFCitrus81@gmail.com.
Orange You Glad to Meet Miss Florida Citrus?
December 22, 2020 / Citrus
By Brenda Eubanks Burnette
Leila Sabet, Miss Florida Citrus 2020, virtually started her year of service in June by competing in the very first virtual Miss America preliminary pageant in Florida. Due to COVID-19, Miss Florida Citrus appearances have not been as prolific as in past years. However, as restrictions have eased, Sabet has been invited to several industry events.
Her first non-virtual appearance was at LongHorn Steakhouse in Winter Haven, where she was awarded her crown and sash and met Michaela McLean, the former Miss Florida Citrus crowned Miss Florida, who placed in the Top 15 at the Miss America Pageant last year. Sabet also met Ann Daniel Adams, a forever Florida Citrus Queen and Miss Florida. Adams was a Florida Citrus Queen/Miss Florida in 1954 and first runner-up at the Miss America Pageant to Lee Meriwether.
In October, Sabet was on hand for the dedication of the first installation of the Vero Heritage Citrus Label Trail at the Indian River Citrus Museum. Sabet, along with George Hamner Jr., sponsor of the “Flo” citrus label sign, helped unveil the first of four signs that will be displayed in the Vero Beach area. Afterward, Hamner gave Miss Florida Citrus her first tour of a citrus grove and packinghouse to help assist her in understanding the industry and to enable her to answer questions from the public during future appearances.