Robin Sussingham

Reporter/Host

Robin Sussingham is a reporter/producer and host at WUSF Public Broadcasting.  A native of Lakeland, she frequently reports on events and issues in Polk County.

She came to WUSF from public radio stations KUER and KCPW in Utah, has contributed stories to NPR and Marketplace, and has an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and online reporting. 

Robin majored in chemistry at Duke, and went to NYU for a Masters Degree in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting. She's reported on everything from the Olympics to the oil spill, but will jump at a chance to talk about food or books.

Ways to Connect

www.ed.gov / U.S. Department of Education

Schools in Florida have a lot to deal with. A massive new federal education law looms on the horizon. Parents are suing over standardized testing  and the NAACP is suing over vouchers for private school. To help us sort out the issues, we speak to two reporters who are close observers of education in our state.


Oh, Florida! On the one hand, a white sands, warm winter paradise. On the other hand -- alligators, sinkholes, pythons, hurricanes...you get the idea! Author Craig Pittman explores the irony of the Sunshine State in his new book: "Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country."

The Zika virus, which has been linked to the birth defect, microcephaly, is now in Florida. That development has taken concern over the mosquito-borne disease to a new level.

Laura Reiley / Tampa Bay Times

"Locally-grown," "farm-to-table," and "pasture-raised" are the new buzzwords in the food culture, and restaurants are rushing to meet the demand. But one reporter says that at many Tampa Bay area restaurants we're being -- as she writes -- "fed fiction." When she investigated, she found that even farmer's markets are mainly absent of local farmers. Florida Matters' Robin Sussingham sat down with food critic Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times to talk about her recent exposé, "Farm to Fable."

A state that has places like Little Havana, Key West,  Disney World and the “Redneck Riviera" is just begging to be written about in fiction. We're talking about the way Florida has been depicted in recent years. What can fiction capture that other types of writing and reporting can not?

A state that has places like Little Havana, Key West, Disney World and the "Redneck Riviera" is just begging to be written about in fiction. Several recent award-winning novels have been set in Florida, and that's the topic of an upcoming Florida Matters on WUSF 89.7.

In this preview,  Florida Matters' Robin Sussingham sat down with Dr. Julie Armstrong, an English professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and Colette Bancroft, the book editor at the Tampa Bay Times, to talk about the novel "Fates and Furies," by Lauren Groff.
 

Michael McArthur

The statistics are familiar; most startups don't make it. But job growth and innovation are the life blood of a thriving community. On Florida Matters, we discuss how to grow -- and keep -- successful entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay.

The Merriam-Webster definition of an entrepreneur is "a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money." They also must be willing to work hard and crazy hours and give up the security of working for someone else. But the rewards can be substantial.

Robin Sussingham/WUSF

The Dixie Highway that meandered through Polk County in the early 20th century inspired the creation of lots of roadside attractions along its path.

Most are gone now, but their memories are kept alive at the Polk County History Center in Bartow, where WUSF's' Robin Sussingham spoke with curator Maria Trippe about Polk's "Lost Roadside Attractions."

Cathy Carter / WUSF

Long before Florida was known for Mickey Mouse and Disney World, it was a vacation destination defined by its beaches and other attractions that drew on the state's natural beauty. Spots like Silver Springs and Cypress Gardens -- and a variety of places that put the word "gator" in their names.

On this Florida Matters, we take you on a ride through the Tampa Bay area's  weird and wonderful roadside attractions, with stops in the past and present.

Daylina Miller/WUSF

A massive fish kill in the Indian River Lagoon in spring has been linked to fertilizer use, and with growing concerns about pesticides and where food comes from, more people are growing their own produce right in their own yard. 

Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

Last weekend's nightclub massacre in Orlando will, no doubt, leave an indelible mark on the families, friends, and survivors.  Scenes of carnage and terror often leave people traumatized.  

There are those who are specially trained to help treat the psychological wounds of such events.  

The shooter in the Orlando mass murder was Omar Mateen, a US citizen who said he was a practicing Muslim. He professed his allegiance to ISIS during his attack on the gay nightclub.

In this Florida Matters preview, Retired Army Colonel Derek Harvey, a senior fellow at USF's Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict, and Dave Couvertier, who recently retired from the FBI with 33 years in law enforcement including experience with SWAT, hostage negotiations and as an agency spokesman, speak with Robin Sussingham of WUSF's Florida Matters. Harvey and Courvertier discuss extremist Muslim groups, and the way  the Internet is one big way they spread their message.
 

Robin Sussingham

You hear a lot of bad news about Florida's agriculture industry. Competition from foreign markets, labor shortages, insects, the loss of farmland to development. And most seriously, the disease of citrus greening, which has devastated Florida's signature crop.

But surprisingly, young people aren't shying away from agriculture education in their schools. In fact, participation is at record highs.

Jayne Chapman

 Two years ago the Florida High School Athletic Association, or FHSAA, passed a wildly unpopular mandate, requiring girls lacrosse players to wear head gear. The organization said it was responding to concussion risks -- but critics say policy and public perception of risk are getting ahead of the actual data.

Within the massive education bill awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature is a provision that says that parents will be able to enroll their child in any school they choose, as long as there's space available.

If there's room on the roster, those students also can immediately start playing a sanctioned sport.

Courtesy of Catherine Eskin

WUSF’s Robin Sussingham recently hosted “Our Jewish Communion: Religious Identity and Growing Up Jewish in Polk County” at Florida Southern College in Lakeland to discuss what it was like to come of age in a predominantly Christian region. This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 20 at 7:30 a.m.), we bring you highlights of the conversation.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Computer coding is the language that tells a computer what to do, but is it a foreign language? The Florida Senate has approved a bill saying yes; if it passes into law, high school students could substitute computer coding for required foreign language credits. It's an attempt to get more of the state's students into computer science classes.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

College can be expensive, and most families need some help paying for it. To get that help, they have to fill out something called the FAFSA  -- "the Free Application for Federal Student Aid." The FAFSA is important. In 2014, Florida high school grads left unclaimed more than $167 MILLION  in federal grant money  -- which they wouldn't have had to pay back -- because they didn't turn in a FAFSA.

Kristen M. Clark

The Florida House of Representatives last week wrestled with key education proposals. 
 

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