Sandra Tenorio

“Some of my first meetings as director (of TDA’s Right to Know Program), imagine this room: Rebecca Harrington from the United Farmworkers, Jon Fisher from the Chemical Council, somebody from the Farm Bureau, somebody from the Farmers Union and then we had somebody from Legal Aid. Those were the five entities that were in the room to negotiate the regulations for the Right to Know law. You talk about having five different perspectives and five different ideas about how to proceed. You had two or three ideas that didn’t want to proceed at all. It was absolutely the most contentious of processes because there were some people in that room that had completely opposite agendas. It took a long time to get those regulations done but they got done and they got published and it was great. I learned to respect that they had extremely different views and the best thing to do is pretend that I did not notice how rude they were being on all sides.
The big message was pesticides are dangerous so please wait. Producers had to post the pesticide application notice. Farmworkers were trained to be aware of the signs and to wait before going into the field. That was the biggest message that the program got across. Then the second message was what to do if you are exposed and how to recognize those symptoms and what to do about it. TDA had crop sheets for every possible crop and what chemicals were used. The message was to be aware of the postings, be aware of the signs, be aware of crop dusters, and then what to do if you were exposed. That was TDA’s main message. “

Sandra Tenorio was hired in 1989 as an assistant to Ellen Widess, who directed the Pesticide Enforcement division. That included the Right to Know program, Pesticide Registration and Pesticide Enforcement. Eight months later she became the director of the Right to Know program. Part of her job was to develop crop sheets to train farmworkers and producers on the various pesticides. The crop sheets were unique to Texas. There was a sheet for each chemical and the sheet had pictures of the different vegetables or produce that the chemical was used on. It had a wait period. All of that was articulated or presented in the form of almost a comic book. It was illustrated. It was in English and Spanish, one side was English, and one side was Spanish. But you have people that can’t read so it was intended for people to be able to look at it and get the message across.

Picture of Sandra Tenorio