Cheyenne Wagi is the Toxic Free Kids Program Manager at Toxic Free NC and a new member of the NC Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force. Before joining Toxic Free NC, she earned dual master’s degrees in global public health and applied medical anthropology from the University of South Florida and dual bachelor’s degrees in community health education and anthropology from UNC-Wilmington.
During her time at UNC-Wilmington, Cheyenne conducted research looking at the effects of marital status on neonatal outcomes and has since been exposed to many different maternal and child health issues, such as breastfeeding and infertility. While in graduate school, Cheyenne worked for Champions for Children, a nonprofit organization with a mission to reduce child abuse and neglect through building stronger families. Through this work and her education, she further developed her passion for collaborating with nonprofit organizations and working in maternal and child health. Since joining Toxic Free NC, she has also developed an interest in environmental justice.
The goal of the Toxic Free Kids Program is to reduce children’s exposure to toxins in the environment. As Program Manager, Cheyenne plans programs, coordinates and conducts workshops and trainings on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and other pest related topics, and connects with stakeholders and other groups. Engaging with stakeholders and other groups, she says, “helps build environmental health champions in the environmental health community”.
Cheyenne is most excited about her work when she is educating a community, which occurs often and in many different forms. She explains, “sometimes I conduct IPM workshops for childcare center employees and sometimes I’m teaching elementary school children about pollinators”. She admits that learning about the whole world of childcare, including child advocacy and child health organizations, is a huge undertaking because there is such a large group of people working on so many different causes, and it can be difficult to know who to contact.
Luckily, being part of the NC Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force provides Cheyenne and Toxic Free NC with connections to increase leverage at childcare centers and awareness of other issues besides pests and pesticides. Since joining Toxic Free NC, Cheyenne has participated in two Task Force meetings and she says, “it’s a great community of organizations and a good fit for Toxic Free NC”.