Skip to main content

Farmer Scientists Lead the Way Toward a Greener Future at the 13th Youth Conference

June 6, 2024

As our coverage of this year’s Youth Conference comes to a close, we wanted to shine the spotlight on those who give meaning to our mission – the students! With almost 1,000 students and educators from around the NY metro area in attendance, we were thrilled to connect with new partners, visit with long time friends, and celebrate the hard work of another generation of Farmer Scientists. Student presenters ranged from 2nd to 12th grade, with research subjects covering topics from using compost tea as a nutrient solution to the effect of water temperature on germination. We’re incredibly proud of all those who both took the stage to share, as well as those who made the journey to Javits to listen and learn!

Introducing the first session was once again Javits Center President and CEO Alan Steel, who shared his excitement about the return of the Youth Conference to the rooftop pavilion at North Javits. Steel has helped the iconic NYC convention center establish itself as a leader in the world of sustainable urban infrastructure, spearheading Javits’ successes in creating an environmentally friendly venue. Following opening remarks, presentations began with a session focused on students as Farmer Scientists, running investigations in their Hydroponic Classrooms. Using creative thinking and the scientific method, students investigated topics including the power of mushrooms, the best way to grow strawberries hydroponically, and anticancer potential of synergizing lycopene and garlic. Before the closing of this session, students also heard from Damali Wynter, the Assistant Commissioner of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets about how agriculture relates to all our everyday activities, and how young people can use any skill set they’re passionate about to make a difference in the world of sustainability. 

During the next session, in addition to student presenters, we were honored to hear words of support from a few of our other supporters, including US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and US Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), who shared their excitement about our student showcase and support for quality climate education in NYC. This second session was all about students as innovators, creating their own hydroponic systems and designing solutions to current climate challenges. Research projects in this session included a hydroponic custom rescue lab intended to save plants from malfunctioning systems, as well as an automated tower system, self-sufficient irrigation systems, and a study on germination in different growing substrates. 

Finally, in the third session of the morning, we heard from Daniella Piper, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of New York Power Authority. Piper spoke to her experience growing up in an agricultural community abroad, and how that perspective shapes her approach to innovation and sustainability. Following that, students dove into the session revolving around climate action, with students acting as global citizens engaging in community events and expanding the learning beyond their Hydroponic Classrooms. A few topics that were shared included testing how decomposers like worms help soil become better for plant growth, the impacts of contaminants in tap water on urban agriculture, and the strength of healthy healing herbs. Closing this session, we also heard from US Rep. Dan Goldman (NY-10), who sent our students off with a message of sincere support. 

After the official close of this year’s conference presentations, we were equally excited to dive headfirst into our second-ever College and Career Fair! High school students in our Workforce Development Program had the unique opportunity to connect with a variety of organizations and universities in the realms of urban farming and sustainability, as they pursue certification in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Additionally, they met with members of the NY Sun Works Associate Board for resume and cover letter reviews, and volunteers from EY also provided mentoring in professional networking! And of course, reporting live on all the climate education was our Youth Press Team, which allowed students of nearly all grade levels to interview fellow students and guest speakers after their presentations. 

These students have truly done something worth celebrating, and we are incredibly honored to play our part in empowering so many young New Yorkers to grow a greener future. Additionally, we are thankful for the parents and families who helped prepare them for their big day, the teachers who stewarded them along the way, and all those whose passion and dedication helped the day flourish into such a success. If you’d like to watch the full conference recording or individual student presentations, check out our YouTube channel. For more information on the Youth Press Team, click here


Join Our Mission to Grow Tomorrow’s Climate Leaders.