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Students Engaged in Food Security and Sustainability

Reflections from the Student Climate & Conservation Congress (Sc3) by ECP's Senior Director of Education

It was truly a pleasure to represent the Educated Choices Program at the Student Climate and Conservation Congress (Sc3) on July 12th to discuss the intersection of food and sustainability. Students from around the country, and the world, gathered to discuss conservation and sustainability topics, become motivated to make a difference, and even devise their own solutions to these pressing issues.

This week-long event is hosted by the Green Schools Alliance, one of our amazing partner organizations, which “provides programs, tools, and resources to fast-track sustainable solutions in schools, empowering all members of the school community to become sustainability champions.” Sc3 is held at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a beautiful campus steeped in conservation history. I stayed in the “Rachel Carson” dormitory, which brought back deeply-held memories of when I first read Silent Spring as a 12-year-old and became a budding conservationist. With migration gardens, museum exhibits, and sprawling outdoor space, it was an honor to be hosted at this venue.

Among the many speakers I had the pleasure of hearing at Sc3 were Robert Watson, the founder of the LEED green building rating system, and Dr. Biswajit De, an educator, wildlife photographer, and founder and president of WildRoots India. The array of backgrounds, interests, and expertise of the speakers, faculty, and students made for a truly interesting and well-rounded experience.

For this event, ECP created a brand-new presentation focusing on food security and food choices and their relationship to sustainability. Despite my talk occurring late in the day for a group of 60+ tired people in the middle of their very busy week, it was one of the most engaging and thought-provoking talks I have ever had with students. Breaking down the four dimensions of food security, I was able to engage with the students directly about how our food choices really do matter for themselves, other humans, and the environment. The conversation was so interactive that we needed to cut off questions as my 15-minute presentation quickly approached 45 minutes - a clear sign of a very rewarding experience! Many students and faculty members stayed after the presentation to continue conversations about food security and how our food choices impact the environment. A few even sought me out at breakfast the next morning to discuss the topic further.

I opened my presentation by telling the audience that speaking with students and young people is one of my favorite things to do, because they hold so much passion and power for making the world a better place. The excitement and enthusiasm I saw in this group reminded me of my earlier days at ECP when I worked as a Field Educator presenting in classrooms across Long Island, New York, and southern Indiana. Our program's outreach and impact has grown each year, and now with our all-digital platform, we are able to activate this fervor in millions of students and community members around the world. By investing in young generations, through speaking engagements like this or our always-free online educational materials, we are working to create a healthier, more sustainable future for everyone.

Casey Clemens

Senior Director of Education

Educated Choices Program

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