Young Leaders in Agriculture Making Impacts on Hunger in Their Own Ways
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Check out what the 2015 U.S. Youth Ag Summit Delegates have been up to this year!
In August of 2015, I had the pleasure of traveling to Australia to join five amazing young people as they represented the U.S. at the Youth Ag Summit in Canberra. The summit was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my career.
If you don’t know, the Youth Ag Summit brings together about 100 young people from around the world to develop ideas to solve the challenges of feeding a growing world population. Nearly 2000 young people from 87 countries submitted applications under the theme, “Feeding a Hungry Planet”, and then the top 100 were selected to form a global team of next generation leaders on the topic.
Once selected, our U.S. delegates were prepped and began promoting this important topic in their communities, via radio, television and print news, and interactions with universities. In August, we all boarded flights to attend the summit across the world. The summit was a huge success; ideas were generated and discussions were conducted throughout the summit, and then the group created a declaration that was later taken to the United Nations. So, what’s happening now?
One action asked of the delegates was to create “Three Little Things” before leaving the summit – three small things each of them would commit to do after the summit to continue the momentum. We checked in with Beverley, Edward, Isha, Katelyn and Elyse from the 2015 U.S. delegate team and here’s what we learned.
Besides becoming a beekeeper on her own family farm, Beverley and her husband pursued a Farm to School grant with Metro Nashville Schools and ended up receiving more than $38,000 from the USDA to integrate locally grown foods, nutrition, agricultural education and health awareness in schools with high needs in these areas. She has become very active in local organizations, like the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program, County Beekeepers Association and more. One of Bev’s goals was to find a way to use big data on her small farm, so she will work with a plant and animal biotechnology program (fall 2016) to conduct research on pests with her new bee hives. The research will focus on varroa mite populations and hive production. Beverley and her husband have both been selected to attend the Tennessee Young Leaders Conference in February 2017. Beverley is passionate about agricultural education and continues to make a big impact on children and also in her community.
As a former winner of the Thought for Food Challenge, Edward started working for Thought for Food after the summit. It’s an organization that launches competitions in food and agriculture and Edward has helped lead two competitions so far – one in vertical farming and another in open data. He is also making progress on two ideas that are currently under development. First, he is working to launch a blog series to highlight the work of various young agriculturists who are taking steps to create a more efficient food system. Second, he is in the beginning stages of developing a large idea that uses augmented reality to create and agrotourism industry. Edward is passionate about technologies that will help create a more food secure world and finding ways to bring them to reality, demonstrated by an invention he co-founded called Henlight – a solar powered lighting solution that helps small-scale poultry farmers increase egg production from laying hens during shorter days of the year.
Isha has made impacts on campus as well as in the community. She was excited to be crowned Miss Gold Coast 2016 on her way to the Miss Illinois Scholarship pageant. As a titleholder has a personal platform to raise awareness throughout the year, Isha competed with the platform of battling hunger in America and around the world. She’s proud to use her crown as a microphone on the issue and has spoken with newspapers and radio stations. She is also visiting local farms to deepen her knowledge of agriculture, and she has served on Loyola University’s 2016 Hunger Week Team, fostering beneficial relationships and raising awareness about the prevalence of hunger on a local, national and global scale. Isha became interested in hunger challenges at a young age, volunteering for a nonprofit organization, Feed My Starving Children, and is interested in ways developed countries can help distribute food to other countries that have fewer resources.
Serving as the youngest U.S. delegate, Katelyn is making great progress towards all of her three things, entering her sophomore year at Green Mountain College in Vermont. In an effort to stay connected to delegates from other countries, Katelyn has had the fortune of visiting and collaborating with delegates from India, Canada and Germany, sharing innovative ideas that will help to feed a hungry planet. In school, she quickly became president of her local Slow Food Movement Chapter, an organization dedicated to sourcing ingredients to support local businesses and farms. She has even been selected as a delegate to represent Vermont at Terra Madre, Slow Food International’s conference in Italy in September 2016. To continue her education and understanding of all things agriculture, Katelyn is taking a class called “Envisioning Sustainability and Resiliency in the North Country”, a series of four intensive interconnected classes focusing on community development centered around sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, ecological design, policy and education. This opportunity will allow her to work with diverse community stakeholders from across the New England area to discover problems and solutions that exist, as well as view the urban/rural divide within agriculture.
Since the summit, Elyse has moved a few times, but currently resides in Melbourne, Australia. She has made it a personal goal to keep a “clean plate club” mentality in mind for every meal, making sure that she is hyper aware of not leaving any food on her plate. In the kitchen, she makes it a goal to cook more simply by making sure she is using all of the ingredients she buys, and coming up with clever ways to use parts of ingredients that she would otherwise throw away. One of her long-term goals is to start a veggie garden and create meals with produce grown in her own backyard.