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Young Scholars 2014

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Young Scholars 2014 – “Food for Thought: Greening Our Schools

Across the nation secondary schools are increasingly focused on providing nutritious, healthy food to students.  Farm-to-School programs (http://www.farmtoschool.org/) link local farmers with schools, while K-12 students are able to participate in summer farm (http://www.grownyc.org/openspace/school_tours) and semester programs (http://landbasedlearning.org/farms.php).  But what if the “Farm” and the “School” were the same place?  What if every school in America had a gym, library, athletic fields, cafeteria and a working farm, however large or small, where students learned about the energy and water systems involved in agriculture, grew food for the school and community, and managed waste and pests?  Imagine K-12 curricula that taught all the basic subjects by applying them in an integrated way to the problems of growing and consuming food, and to teaching the concepts of environmental sustainability and resiliency along the way.

This year’s Young Scholars Program will address the following hypothetical scenario:

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has set an ambitious goal of requiring every school district in the State by 2020 to have in place an integrated Farm School Program.  Utilizing the school itself (in the case of urban schools) or the surrounding grounds in the case of suburban and rural schools, districts will be required to create a safe, sustainable food system that 1) utilizes local resources; 2) produces safe and nutritious food products for on-site consumption; 3) manages energy and material inputs and outputs sustainably and renewably; and 4) integrates and engages all aspects of the curriculum.

To assist with the transition, New York State’s Departments of Education and Agriculture have issued a joint Request for Proposals (RFP) from for-profit consulting firms.  This summer’s Young Scholars will become one of the consulting firms that will submit a proposal.  Working with three Clarkson Professors specializing in Engineering, Marketing, and Ethics and Sustainability, students will create a consulting firm specializing in Farm-School projects, and develop a conceptual design for both an Urban and a Suburban Farm-School.  Students will learn basic engineering, eco-system and agri-system concepts, and apply them to creating an on-campus mini-agricultural enterprise.  Students will also need to become familiar with curricular standards and their creative application to the School Farm.  And as a for-profit firm, marketing the “product” will be central to the success of the RFP.  At the conclusion of the weeklong program, students will deliver a professional presentation to school administrators, agricultural experts, local government officials, and other professionals outlining their School Farm proposal.

Helpful Websites relating to this topic:

http://landbasedlearning.org/farms.php             

http://www.summerfieldws.org/index.php?id=224

http://commongroundct.org/                             

http://ofrf.org/education/database

https://www.ffa.org/fowsah/index.html               

http://lhs.wpusd.k12.ca.us/pointsofpride/schoolfarm/

http://hspsfarm.blogspot.com/p/about-farm.html 

http://www.natickfarm.org/Pages/School_Programs/MS_HS_Main.html

Students at Young Scholars 2013