Five young agriculturists have been selected to represent the U.S. at the Bayer Crop Science Youth Ag-Summit in Brussels, Belgium, from October 9-13, 2017. The young leaders are part of a delegation of 100 people from 49 countries selected to participate in a week-long think-tank focused on identifying innovative, sustainable, and actionable solutions to address global food security challenges.
Themed “Feeding a Hungry Planet,” this year’s summit aims to address the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger, achieving food security, and promoting sustainable agriculture. This year’s summit will be the third that Bayer has offered to young people around the world, and represents a long-standing history of support for the next generation of leaders and innovators.
“The agricultural industry can contribute strongly to achieving some of the key U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, but this also requires the active involvement of the next generation. The Youth Ag-Summit aims to give young leaders the opportunity to foster their ideas, share best practices, and explore the role of modern agriculture in feeding a hungry planet,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and head of the Crop Science Division.
The five young delegates representing the U.S. are:
- Anna Gomes, age 20 from Ferndale, California, is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis studying agriculture and environmental education with an emphasis in plant and soil science. She is a National FFA alum, has held internships with the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C., and participated in study abroad programs taking her everywhere from London to Paris. All of these experiences have ultimately solidified her passion for plants. During high school she started an agricultural business, Anna’s Herbs, growing and marketing herbs and flowers to local consumers through farmers markets. Trading labor for greenhouse space, she worked for a local farmer and learned the basics of farming, marketing and nurturing young crops. All this has led to her current activities, which include a biology lab assistant, serving as a research intern for the UC Davis Water Management Lab, and the SCOPE Project, a plant breeding for organic systems initiative. Upon graduation in 2018, she will focus on researching climate change and its impact on food production.
- Ben Carson, age 20 from Plant City, Florida, found early inspiration through his upbringing in the thriving farming region of Central Florida. Although citrus production used to be one of Florida’s largest economic drivers, the citrus industry has been greatly impacted by citrus greening. This exposure helped foster an early interest in agriculture and the belief in the importance of growing nutritious food for thriving communities. During high school, he furthered that interest by spending his spring breaks in Brazilian favelas working with impoverished, food insecure children. Today, he is a finance and marketing major at Samford University. After graduation, he hopes to provide management consulting services to agricultural businesses to boost economic development around the country.
- Emily Buck, age 24 from Gallatin, Tennessee, has devoted her career to agricultural policy. Buck grew up on a 400-acre family farm, participated in 4-H and FFA, and later earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee, a background that fostered her passion for agriculture. She currently works for the House of Representatives as a congressional staffer for Diane Black, where she guides policy on agricultural issues. As someone who lives with Crohn’s disease, Emily knows what it’s like to go long periods without food. The resulting difficulty with studying and maintaining a job during those times has given her a personal glimpse into one dimension of what it’s like to be profoundly hungry. This has inspired her quest to find solutions for others by helping to foster a policy environment in which agriculture can flourish.
- Julie Greenwald, age 21, from Boston, Massachusetts, is pursuing a double major in environmental studies and cultural studies, with a minor in peace and justice from Villanova University. The young scholar has earned a 3.94 GPA, was on the Dean’s list for three consecutive terms and has raised more than $23,000 for the university. Beyond these accomplishments, Greenwald spent five weeks living and working on organic farms in three Belgian cities this past summer. Her agricultural career aspirations are guided by her belief that food security is a basic human right. Field experience at home and abroad, coursework and her personal research have all inspired her to roll-up her sleeves alongside her peers to discover solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time.
- Noah Hamlish, age 22 from Chicago, Illinois, is a Thomas J. Watson Fellow researching aquaculture practices in Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand, Chile, Norway, and Scotland. He received a B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Wesleyan University. There he was an elected member of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and recipient of the Scott Biomedical Prize and William Firshein Prize in molecular biology for research completed during his senior year. He also held an undergraduate research fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he cultivated a passion for understanding the foundations for healthy aquatic environments.He hopes to combine his scientific background with his recent experiences on fish farms to promote new perspectives on aquaculture in his community. In the future, he would like to direct food science research that benefits sustainable, socially conscious urban farming and food production initiatives through studying more efficient biological systems.
The chosen delegates – who all share a passion for agriculture and a vision of a world without hunger – will undertake group projects and participate in industry tours, as well as learn from expert guest speakers. Their mission is to come up with concrete new ideas that can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice back home.
To be considered for participation, delegates were required to submit essays on the topic of food insecurity, factoring in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. A total of 1,187 essays from 95 different countries were submitted, all of which were reviewed by a panel of industry experts, including six U.S. judges representing national youth leadership organizations such as the FFA and 4-H, academia, a former Youth Ag-Summit delegate, and Bayer.