Environmental Activism

Lynn Henning was born and raised on a farm in Michigan. Lynn and her husband had a farm where they raised grain and vegetables. The nature of farming changed when coordinated animal feeding operations (CAFO) began buying up land. The income generated by the CAFO’s was welcome by the local farmers.

The problem with the CAFO’s was in how they handled the animal waste. The animal waste along with other waste was placed in ponds. The waste material started seeping into the groundwater. The ponds also released toxic fumes of ammonia, sulfur, and methane.

When Lynn’s parents were diagnosed with hydrogen sulfide poisoning, she began investigating what could be done to make the CAFO’s more environmentally compatible. The problem that she found was that local environmental regulations and management was geared to small family farms.

When a CAFO was accused of polluting a local state park lake, they accused Lynn and her husband of being a whistle-blower. While the Hemmings didn’t initiate the investigation, that gave them the idea of becoming more active in looking into the CAFO’s. Lynn and her husband worked with their neighbors to form an environmental group to address the problems generated by the CAFO’s.

They collected water samples and began to document the extent of the pollution. They found that pollution and E.coli levels were 2,000 times the approved maximum levels. Fines were issued and regulators were brought up-to-date.

Lynn was harassed and ostracized. Her vehicle was run off the road. Her pastor asked her to stay away from their church because of complaints about her activism. Perhaps the worst form of harassment was when a bullet was shot into her granddaughter’s room.

Hidden heroes often break the seal of silence that keeps others from speaking up. They are ostracized from relationship groups. What they do have is a conscience for doing what they feel they must do.

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            “Activism is my rent for living on the planet.” – Alice Walker (Author)

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