feedingahungryplanetThe Global 4H Summit which will be held in Calgary, Alberta from August 19th to 25th is shaping up to be an outstanding event targeting the vital issue of “Feeding a Hungry Planet”.  As a natural extension of the 100th anniversary theme of “Food for Thought” the summit will tackle food challenges facing the world today. The global representation includes 60 Canadian delegates from across the country, 20 American delegates, and 40 international delegates from 22 different countries (Australia, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Taiwan, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), plus 25 mentors and other staff, for a total of 161 representatives will attend and participate in the Summit.

Tammy Oswick-Kearney, Special Projects officer for 4-H Canada, provides some background on why feeding world populations is such an important issue. “In November 2011, the United Nations declared that the planet’s population surpassed 7 billion people. By 2050, experts predict an additional 2 billion people will need healthy food and nutrition. No one person, company or nation holds the answer, but through discussion, collaboration and innovation, these young adults know ground breaking agricultural solutions can be found, acted upon and achieved.”  Fortunately, there were groups who saw the need and stepped up to address the possibilities. The Summit came about because of the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Canada. 4-H and their partner, Bayer Crop Science wanted to host a “unique” event that would address “Feeding a Hungry Planet” and be in line with the 100th anniversary theme of “Food for Thought”.  In the intervening time, much has already taken place. “The summit will use a combination of pre-summit work, guest speakers, group discussions, tours and a facilitated process towards viable actions, to enrich the experience of participants from around the world. There will also be the opportunity for youth from around the world to be engaged in the summit, even if they are unable to participate.”

Click on map for enlargement

Click on map for enlargement

Over 400 Applications Received

It is obvious that 4-H youth today are inspired by the urgency of the issue.  Applicants were given the following question to address in an essay or video presentation.  Over 450 applications were received from around the world.

“In the next 40 years the world’s population will grow from 7 billion to 9 billion, yet already today, 1 billion people do not have enough safe and nutritious food to eat.

Using your own village, town, city or country as your point of reference, tell us what YOU think the underlying causes of food insecurity are and why, and the effect it can have on a population (both locally and globally). Explain how sustainable agricultural practices could solve these issues and how you would use the Global 4-H Youth Ag Summit to advance your solution(s).”

The Summit Marks Commitment to New Beginnings

Through combined pre-summit work, guest speakers, group discussions, tours and a facilitated process towards viable actions, youth will have the opportunity to create, discuss and further implement their action plans when they return home. Each delegate will leave the event with three personal actions that they will commit to follow through on with the support of their mentor, upon returning home. We encourage that these individual actions are S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. The entire delegation will develop a collective action plan that all delegates are willing to commit to, using the content of the working group presentations, to build a shared action statement.

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Teamwork brings a great idea from concept to reality

There are many times when a wonderful plan breaks down on the long road through red tape, finances and other logistics of international endeavors.  There can never be too many “Thank you’s” extended to Bayer Crop Science who has been working alongside 4-H Canada to ensure that this Summit comes to fruition, as well as continuing beyond the August 19-25th dates.  It boggles the mind to think of how many dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to also ensure that this Summit is successful.  Tammy emphasizes their importance. “Without the volunteers, we may not have been able to deliver such a diverse opportunity to so many deserving young adults around the globe.”  There is an extensive list of sponsors who support this Summit including – Agriculture Canada, Alberta government, Cargill, Agrium, John Deere, Richardson Pioneer, Farm Credit Canada, Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, who have come to the table to ensure the success of this event. As well Agri-Trend, Alta Genetics, the Calgary Stampede, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Copithorne Ranch, McDonald’s Canada and Sunterra who are participating by providing speakers and/or giving tours.

Passion with a Purpose

The purpose of the Summit is to identify, connect and create ideas, all aimed at progressing agriculture around the world with the next generation of agricultural participants.  This collaborative approach aims to leave participants with actionable ideas that they can take back to their home country as well as their personal operations/careers.  The core themes throughout the week are: Goal setting, innovation, Sustainability, Leadership and Celebration.

A Lofty Goal for the Global Summit

It is exciting to even consider such incredibly challenging topics.  To do so with enthusiasm and with the ultimate goal of taking action is astounding.  Speaking on behalf of the committed visionaries and volunteers Tammy Oswick-Kearney says, “I hope the delegates will take away their action items and implement them quickly. I want the delegates to continue to use their mentors for support and advice as they move to implement the united Youth Ag Summit plan. I want the conversation, ideas and solutions to continue long after the Summit has come to a close. With the growing world population set to reach 9 billion by 2050, we cannot let this conversation, these ideas and solutions, die.”

A “Working” Committee with Milestones to Reach

Organizers report that a working committee will be established to carry forward the work that will be completed over the course of the Youth Ag-Summit.  From its inception the Youth Ag Summit milestones have been:

To create awareness and garner interest in the global food crisis by inviting youth ages 18-25 to apply to attend an expense paid trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to address the issue of “Feeding a Hungry Planet”. This gathering will provide an avenue for agriculturally focused 4-H youth from around the world to dialogue on how they can address feeding a growing world population in an atmosphere that fosters international networks and friendships and provides the opportunity to produce youth-driven action plans focused on feeding a growing world population, for themselves and policy makers around the world.

The Ultimate Goal of the Global Summit

The three key outcomes of the summit are:

  1. To provide an avenue for agriculturally focused 4-H youth from around the world to dialogue on how they can address feeding a growing world population.
  2. To create an atmosphere that fosters international networks and friendships.
  3. To produce youth-driven action plans focused on feeding a growing world population, for themselves and policy makers around the world.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The global 4-H Youth Ag Summit [YAS] will bring young people together to share knowledge, while pursuing a vital cause.  They will also share understanding and become a forum for future leadership at the highest levels. We can only applaud and encourage these young minds and hearts that are prepared to put their hands to work to feed their families, their community and the world!  Bravo!

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