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Youth & Social Networking

Youth poster

Highlights from Day 1 of the SUMMIT, May 11th:

YOUTH F2F WIT PPT Presentation

brief overview of the breakout:

•    This group responded very favorably to the concept of creating a NC Youth Corps (the name of a corp was ify, but concept appeals to all).
•    Broad concurrence that we’re talking about engaging and mentoring youth and promoting careers throughout the entire food system not just production – including dietician, advertising & marketing, advocates, policy analysts, artisan butchers, chefs, business management and administration, etc…
•    Awareness of the complexity and importance of working on dismantling racism within the food system and the challenges and opportunities to build on the good work already being done by existing organizations.
•    What about creating a statewide youth food council that could work with the statewide food policy council?
•    What is the work you are doing NOW that you can expand to include youth?

Original WIT meeting facilitator & SUMMIT breakout leader:

Shorlette Ammons-Stephens, Wayne County Public Library & Wayne Food Initiative

team members:

  • David Hamilton, The Real Food Challenge
  • Rob Jones, Crop Mob
  • David Jones, Ag Extension, LYFE
  • Karlie Justus, NCDA & CS
  • Kavanah Ramsier, SEEDs
  • Justin Robinson, The Carolina Chocolate Drops
  • Chris Rumbley, Bountiful Backyards and Good Work
  • Rachel Smith, NC DENR, Environmental Ed
  • Tahz Walker, Stone House Center and SEEDS
  • Hillary Wilson, Maverick Farm, BLAST cadre

staff: tes thraves



With increased access to leadership skills and broad based food system knowledge, youth can become the next generation of food advocates and more actively begin farming and food system careers. Social networking by youths is one of the dominant trends across socio-economic and cultural groups, and the integration of youth leadership in Food Justice arenas is already growing nationwide. Leadership development has been tied to Sustainable Ag through hugely successful efforts like the BLAST program at The Food Project, important strides for making farming relevant and appealing in youth spheres have been accomplished by creative efforts such as The Greenhorns Major foundations and organizations have recognized the necessity of focusing on youth leadership (see Food and Society and Kellogg for national examples). However, these models are still largely unknown outside Community Food Systems and Ag communities: what are the possibilities for taking youth-led Ag and CFS efforts to mainstream popularity? And what are thepossibilities for youth leadership in Sustainable agriculture and food justice here in NC?

North Carolina Perspective

North Carolina has quality programming across the state focusing on younger children: 4-H K-12 and Discover Agriculture provide interactive experience for students to learn about agricultural science and specifically farming. North Carolina A&T’s Linking Youth and Farm Enterprise (LYFE) program also supports interest in farming endeavors by linking youth with mentor growers. The Durham Inner-city Gardeners (DIG) at SEEDS empowers teens by teaching organic gardening, sound business practices, healthy food choices, and food security values. UNC Chapel Hill’s­ Fair Local Organic (FLO) Foods is a student organization that works closely with dining service administrators, local farmers, community members, and students to provide more sustainable food in on-campus dining. FLO Food and The Real Food Challenge, a national student campaign for a just and sustainable food system, recently collaborated to create The Southeast Youth Food Activist Summit (SYFAS), the first of its kind in our region, bringing seventy students and other youth activists from across the Southeast to Chapel Hill to share strategies and strengthen a youth food network.

Issues Under Discussion

Working with existing programs to replicate strong models should be accompanied by connecting with opportunities that have established infrastructure. For example, tying food system work to required senior projects at public high schools can be supported through local tool box ideas and mentor identification, and supporting the development of local chapters of national and regional efforts like The Real Food Challenge increases opportunities for students both within NC and beyond. Developing new programs—such as media campaigns, skill-share campaigns, regional youth-organized food festivals, or a statewide leadership initiative—can place youth as ambassadors of this NC movement, extending current efforts from childhood to young adulthood while putting youth at the forefront of community outreach and education of statewide local and sustainable food efforts.


The initial WIT meeting produced the following ideas, to be discussed, developed and expanded further at the SUMMIT:


Game Changer

NC Food Corp – a youth leadership program, focused on 15-25 year olds (high school through young adult), that will provide training in food & food systems, leadership development, and Food Justice and diversity. This will have a train-the-trainer and pass-it-forward structure to facilitate building both a network of youth across the state and also clusters of trained food system workers with interest and skills in various food sectors. Additionally, the structure would have an intergenerational component both in connections with younger children and through connections with career mentors.

Other Statewide Action Plan Ideas

  • Music and Art statewide celebrations (sequential and simultaneous regional food festival days including advocacy and growing trainings plus community outreach festivities)
  • U-Tube promo and skill-share campaign

Local Action Ideas

  • How To Food System senior project kit (mentor lists, project ideas, linkage of projects to careers and business development ideas)
  • How To for groups wanting to “do something green”
  • Youth Recruitment and Outreach tools
  • Mapping of all Children and Youth food system projects across NC (linked with Ag tourism map)
  • Guide to creating youth-built Seasonal Cookbooks, and other multi-age projects

Complete notes from the SUMMIT Breakout Session:


Ask ourselves: what work are we doing NOW that could include youth?

If this is a movement, it should MOVE! (bio bus . . .)

Career Path, Career Ladder—vital first step!

We must have this conversation with YOUTH GROUPS!

Must connect youths to youths—field trips and networking of existing groups.

What are the Social Justice/Food Justice we want to implement?:

  • dismantling racism training
  • intergenerational work
  • leadership training
  • opportunity for limited resource youth

Who is involved ideally?

  • all ethnic and socio-economic groups represented in NC, including particularly traditionally underserved populations

Game Changer Idea:

NC Food Corps (18-30) youth leadership program with train the trainer and pass-it-forward structure with intergenerational and career mentor component)

  • diversity training should include everyone, not just youths—teach youths to do diversity training? resource: institute for dismantling racism
  • intergenerational learning vital, a component in all aspects, but not just old teaching young
  • formal relationship with drop-out rate
    • so that can be publicized
    • graduation related project
    • tie in for drop-outs, hs grads, and non-college bound as well as college bound
  • Americorp spin off?
  • 18-30 age limitations/distinction:
    • this older group age makes possible bridging between programs like 4-H that address programming for younger ages
    • build and link to existing, so this is next and non-existing step
    • creative ways to incorporate all ages so not just old teaching young
    • formalize and visualize youth offerings at ages leading up to youth corp
    • 15 up includes highschool
    • include middle school
    • think about communication and learning style needs of different age groups and divide by that—18 year old does not learn in same way a 15 year old does, 18 diff than 30 year old . . .
  • combine working in “own” community and “new” community
  • college loan deferment program
  • tie in to current administrations efforts in funding service by youth
  • statewide structure but in regional units
  • is this a summer thing?  timing?
  • realistic project ideas needed
  • tie in with farmers—farmer mentors and they get labor pool
  • tie into community colleges
  • tie in with WWOOF, early childcare ed
  • mentor training to existing food system workers and farmers

What is important for us to know about this game changer idea? Additional questions, strategies, concerns?

  • link Food Corp to 4-H, FFA
    • present sustainable farming options (as market opportunity) to traditional farming families
    • expand what and who 4-H works with, similar goals
  • make 4-H “cool”
  • “story corp” like—young folks collecting recipes, stories, seeds . . .
  • rural urban connections – fieldtrips
  • run Pilot programs?
  • Project-based /Experiential training
  • need hip marketing strategy
  • varied teaching styles to appeal to all youth
  • Compensation: pay or college credit?  volunteer/paid/loan forgiveness
  • NRG possible model for website
  • rooted in community (15-25)
  • must engage folks not represented here
  • cooking as corp of diversity training and bridge to collective work
  • do not make campus based—broader constituency
  • make campus sited for dorm housing

What is important for us to know about other discussed ideas? Any additional state action ideas?

OTHER STATEWIDE action ideas

  • Music and Food and Art festival/s
    • sweet potato festival
    • celebrating NC specific products can bridge conventional ag perspectives and sustainable ag perspective
  • U-tube promo and statewide skill share campaign
    • Food Corps SUMMIT
    • catalog of different skill share offerings—opens knowledge that is youth collected to wide audience
    • use distance education structure of community colleges and state institutions
    • business training, communication training, diversity training

NEW STATEWIDE action ideas

  • Integrate sus ag and local food into nutritional benefits and public health system
  • Youth on State Food Policy Council
  • “Food Down” Iron Chef Live
  • Statewide exchange between schools and food projects to inspire youths through work of other youths
  • facebook and/or website
  • traveling gardening bus—runs on veggie oil, plants, manuals, etc (white house bus)
  • policy changes to allow schools to consume food grown at school gardens
  • statewide teacher conferences, teaching teachers how to incorporate sus ag and food system work
  • youth presentation opportunities at CFSA and other state food conferences

Any suggestions for local action ideas presented today? Any additional local action ideas?


How to Food System senior project tool box

  • note about senior projects: if these are optional, danger that they will self divide into college-bound and not

How to for groups wanting to “do something green”

Youth Recruitment and Outreach tools

Mapping of all Children’s and Youth food system projects across NC

Guide to creating youth-built Seasonal Cookbooks

  • how to make this “cool”


  • Involve Schools
    • mobilize PTAs to fund sustainable education, as a position, so not dependent on individual teacher interest/action
    • mobilize PTAs to use sustainable projects as fundraisers at schools, student run
    • field trips to sustainable farms, food sector fieldtrips to look at systems
    • connect with gleaning programs having youth do labor as community service time
    • resource list of field trips available to youths across the state
    • food curriculum in science classes
  • green corp model expanded to include food issues—GO Asheville model
  • statewide healthy/local cooking competitions
  • Outward Bound foraging program
  • Develop a resource guide for career opportunities in Food Systems (identifying nitch businesses and products and highlighting future areas of emphasis)
    • job fair/career day related to food/ag
    • funding and grant possibilities
  • Integrate youth on local food policy councils
  • youth led food assessments
  • youth engagement with seniors on food histories and skills
  • teach grant-writing in schools
  • geo-referenced food assessments/food shed GIS data, youth compiling info for pay
  • local wellness programs involving youth more
  • “underground” guerilla gardening workshops
  • community gardens run by youths (like Seeds)
  • seed collection by youths, and seed packets made by children
    • could/would local seed companies use seed packets designed by kids projects in schools—contest and prize is garden stuff for their schools
  • seasonal eating