2014 CC Student Luncheon
Students Pursue Questions at Lunch about Food and Water Challenges
For the first time during a Camden Conference, all students from three 2014 Conference venues met during lunch to pursue their questions about Food and Water. Read on to learn about the thinking of students from Camden, Rockport, and Belfast on February 22, 2014.
Camden Congregational Church
A major highlight of the 2014 Conference was the opportunity for students to have lunch with two of the Speakers at noon. Over 80 high school and college students attended this session with Andrew Guzman and Calestous Juma. The First Congregational Church was kind enough to host this gathering, as it has for many past years.
The purpose of this session was for students to take the initiative and set the tone for a free-wheeling exchange of views. Africa served as the focus for much of the discussion, but the students also inquired about the impact of rising temperatures on local conditions here in Maine. Students were fascinated by the wide expertise of these two scholars, posing tough and insightful questions about the impact of global climate change on human health and world politics. Their questions also gave Dr. Juma and Dr. Guzman the chance to respond to each other’s views and to deepen their scholarly dialogue.
As in previous years, this session provided a significant learning opportunity for students, most of whom had never attended a professional conference, nor had the chance to interact personally with scholars of such international prominence. It has grown steadily in total attendance—as well as diversity—and now attracts both students and faculty from several high schools, colleges, and universities. Paul Holman welcomed the students and faculty, and then introduced Jim Matlack who introduced the guest speakers for the Question and Answer Period.
Café Miranda and 3 Crow Restaurant in Rockland; The Hutchinson Center in Belfast
Students at these three luncheon venues generated questions for conversation with their peers and faculty members. At Café Miranda, Pat Mundy and Merlin Miller welcomed the 50 students and faculty members from six high schools and two colleges. Cafe Owner Kerry Altiero shared how his restaurant has for years been a light house to the Mid Coast of Maine for organic farming and making use of local food resources. As students entered the café they were invited to write a question that emerged during the Conference presentations, which could become the focus of conversation during lunch. Karolyn Snyder facilitated dialogue around lunch tables, with big ideas being shared with the whole group. At 3 Crow Restaurant, Will Galloway welcomed 35 students and faculty members to the lunch from two high schools and one college. Following their meal, students were invited to create new groups and address their food and water questions. At the Hutchinson Center John Zavodny and Doug Fox fielded questions raised by the 20 high school and college students in a large group. In each location one of these leaders acted as scribe to record questions and the direction of the dialogue. Student questions and dialogue trends recorded by the scribes have been synthesized here to share with you.
What Issues are Students Talking About?
Question #1: Food Distribution:
“The amount of food doesn’t seem to be as big a problem as distribution, so what will it take to have food equality?”
. Encourage farmers to purchase and sell locally
. Support local, smart farming to minimize transportation and energy costs
. Schools should be a place to explore new directions via student projects
. Establish connections between local farmers and school cafeterias
. Raise awareness of the community regarding locally produced food
. Add green houses to school biology programs
. Cafeterias are not well equipped to handle fresh produce, staff has little experience, so the cafeteria system needs to be modified.
Question #2: Technology and Agriculture
“In what ways could we apply technology, as used in Africa, to agriculture systems in the USA?”
. Use building roof tops as agriculture space
. Green roofs will reduce building energy use
. Develop better water management techniques
Question #3: Water Usage in Maine
“What are some ways that Maine, as a water-rich state, can become a leader in environmental policy issues around usage and distribution?”
. Become a leader in developing water conservation policies
. Find ways to minimize recreational water usage
Question #4: Primary and Secondary Education in the USA
“What are schools doing to highlight the importance of the food and water challenges for this current generation of students?”
. Older students report they hear nothing about these issues in school
. “Some of us college students experienced a focus on food and water issues for the first time at this conference”
. Other students report that they have heard virtually nothing about these issues in school, at any level
. After studying these issues in our course, the future comes down to the global politics of food and water
. “As an international student, I want to express my admiration to your country for this emphasis on the environment. It will take the USA to bring these topics to the world.”
. Reforming society is huge; education is the big thing to change
Question #5: What can Students do about Food and Water issues now?
. Talk to older people
. Educate ourselves. Relying on a single system for education is unworkable
. Inspire each other. Talk about it.
. Develop a community orientation by supporting each other with technology and other resources
. Explore how to use technology, medicine, research, and communication to solve social problems evolving from food and water challenges
Additional Questions raised by students – a sample:
1. What would a paradigm shift look like in regard to water, speaking about the global situation?
2. What are ways to take what we learned here and bring it back to the community?
3. How can we encourage K-12 schools to integrate this topic into education? Why did I not learn anything about agriculture problems in high school?
4. What should we be learning or teaching to prepare the next generations for the issues we will be facing in 2050?
5. What is the impact of rising seas on wetlands?
6. How can the social evolution be facilitated that we need to address climate change? It appears it will not come fast enough.
7. How do we change the culture of over-consumption?
After the 2014 Camden Conference, what happened?
Two weeks after the conference, Teachers Dwight Blue and Mariellen Eaton, took 40 students from Oceanside High School in Rockland and Camden Hills Regional High School in Camden to the Environmental Conference in Augusta. Dwight observes that the 2014 Camden Conference was a remarkable experience for their students, and this year’s topic struck a chord, which prompted interest for attending the State Conference on the Environment.