Jessica Meszaros

Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of All Things Considered for WGCU News.

She was a multimedia reporter for Miami’s public radio station, WLRN Radio, for more than two years.

In the summer of 2013, Jessica interned for NPR's All Things Considered  in Washington D.C. She has a background in newspaper reporting from her summer 2014 internship with the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.  

Jessica graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Honors College.

 

Researchers say invasive Burmese pythons are depleting so many animals in the Everglades, mosquitoes there are mainly biting a species of rat that carries a virus dangerous to humans. 

Hurricane Irma destroyed farms and groves all around Hendry County. An agriculture expert says 78 percent of the adult population in Hendry works in the ag industry.  Irma damages will affect everyone from growers to grocery stores.

The Lee County School District is starting a substance abuse intervention program just in time for the new school year, which began Thursday, Aug. 10. Instead of being suspended or sent to an alternative school, kids can go through this program for a first recorded incident with drugs or alcohol on school property. 

A Southwest Florida group is making menstrual kits for women in Guatemala. Medical experts in the Central American country say women in rural areas there are sometimes isolated during their periods due to lack of sanitary pads and tampons. They can sometimes be too expensive. Some women can also get sick from overusing the little supplies they have. And there’s another problem: some villages are said to have zero sex education.

The Florida Supreme Court will not overturn the governor’s vetoes of money the state owes some residents for destroying their citrus trees. However, justices did appear to agree the homeowners are due their compensation.

A Lee County circuit court judge said the state agriculture department needs to repay local residents for destroyed citrus trees, or explain why it refuses to pay. The Florida Department of Agriculture has less than 40 days to respond.

Residents in Lee and Broward Counties took Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Supreme Court this week. They’re trying to overturn Scott’s vetoes of state money owed to them after agriculture officials destroyed their healthy citrus trees. The homeowners also took the state’s agriculture commissioner to lower courts.

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 2:20 PM

Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed a part of the state budget that would’ve compensated residents in Lee and Broward Counties years after the state removed their healthy citrus trees. The 16-year battle for reimbursement continues.


  The Florida Legislature finally included compensation in the state budget for Lee County and Broward County residents after agriculture officials removed their healthy citrus trees in the early 2000s. It was a failed attempt by the Florida Department of Agriculture to eradicate the bacterial disease citrus canker. These residents hope the governor will sign the state budget to end their years-long battle. 

This past state legislative session, Florida’s beaches got the most funding for renourishment than they have in more than a decade: $50 million. 

 UPDATED: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 10:36 AM 

CORRECTION: WGCU originally wrote, "Acquaviva did not return WGCU’s calls for comment," but it should read "call."

Lee County is once again looking for the chemical arsenic on Pine Island. That’s after documents surfaced from a few years ago showing arsenic levels hundreds and sometimes thousands of times higher than the federal government allows on private and public lands.

Experts say this could’ve potentially harmed island residents and wildlife within the surrounding estuaries. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, but state and federal health officials say if high levels are consumed, it can make people sick and cause cancer.

Public records show state environmental officials knew about the high arsenic levels but decided to stop testing for it in 2015.

A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.

South Florida Water managers heard presentations recently on their options for underground water storage. These are possible solutions to excess fresh water that sometimes fills Lake Okeechobee, leading to harmful discharges in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. Experts say one choice is more ideal than another.

Cities in South Florida are torn about a recent ruling that allows water managers to back-pump water into Lake Okeechobee without federal permits. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York made the decision Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The Florida Burrowing Owl is now considered a “Threatened” species, which means it has higher protections from the state. And environmental advocates in the city of Cape Coral hope this new title will help their efforts in preserving the local burrowing owl population. 

Harvard University wants to study impacts of sea level rise in Southwest Florida-- Collier County, in particular. This was proposed during a climate change meeting at Florida Gulf Coast University on Monday. 

State wildlife biologists rescued a manatee in Southwest Florida waters Wednesday for symptoms resulting from a toxic red tide algal bloom. This seems to be a trend.

A Southwest Florida research company said it has developed a medication to combat Zika. The pill is meant to treat people who’ve already contracted the mosquito-borne virus. 

People in Southwest Florida are having a new and sometimes uncomfortable kind of conversation at the dinner table… about death. Medical professionals say most people are not preparing for their deaths. And this usually leaves families scrambling to make choices for their loved ones. So to fix that, there’s this worldwide initiative called Death Over Dinner. 

As South Floridians evacuate ahead of Hurricane Matthew, experts warn this could spread the Zika virus. The storm is expected to hit the east coast—an area of the state with the most local Zika cases. Those fleeing Miami could also take the virus with them.

Toxicologists say Floridians using mosquito repellent for Zika virus prevention should not overuse it. Mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County are transmitting the illness, which is linked to birth defects. And misusing repellent could cause some health issues, too.


UPDATE: If you think you've spotted  a New Guinea flatworm in your area, the recommendation is to not touch it, take a picture of it and report it to state wildlife officials at 888-IVE-GOT1.

An invasive flatworm could potentially threaten wildlife, and even people in Southwest Florida. The New Guinea Flatworm was first found in the state near Miami more than a year ago. Now, they’ve popped up in Cape Coral, and most recently, Sanibel Island. 


Federal lawmakers from Florida are criticizing the state’s recent decision to allow for higher levels of toxins in its waterways. They’re worried about public health because some of the toxins cause cancer.

The Florida Environmental Regulation Commission approved increased levels for about 20 different toxins in Florida surface waters, like rivers and estuaries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would still have to approve the move.

Nine members of Congress recently sent the EPA a letter voicing their concern.

Federal, state and local scientists brought Florida’s freshwater crisis to Washington D.C. on Thursday.  They met with congressmen to talk about the damage.

Scientists found blue-green algae again in Southwest Florida waters this week. The toxic algae has been plaguing beaches on the east coast for weeks now.  Experts say this could get worse on both coasts now because of the summer heat.


Recent water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River could be the indirect cause of a disfigurement in some shore birds along Florida’s Gulf Coast. WGCU reported in March about royal terns spotted in Southwest Florida with, what looked like, possible third beaks. But experts now say those could actually be their tongues.


The state wants to increase the amount of toxins it can put in Florida’s surface waters. State officials said they’re doing this based on federal guidelines. But some people worry it could harm residents. 

Researchers around the world say mollusks are threatened because of climate change. There are about 70,000 kinds of mollusks, ranging from clams to octopi. 

They say young mollusks are vulnerable to things like ocean acidification because their shells are soft. They’re worried that can cut down populations or even cause them to disappear.

 

Gov. Rick Scott was in Fort Myers on Friday, talking about Zika virus preparations in the state. Zika is linked to deformities in unborn babies. It’s a mosquito-borne virus, but Florida’s more than 90 cases are so far only travel-related. The governor said he’s ready for the possibility of Zika-infected mosquitoes to cross over state lines.

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