Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A look back at our first summer Summit for Native Youth

On July 25, 2014, we had to say goodbye to forty-four amazing youth who attended our first annual Summer Leadership Summit for Native American Youth in Food & Agriculture. The students, who represented twenty-one tribes, came from all over the country to spend a week on our University of Arkansas campus. During their intensive week of study, the students met and talked with leaders in the food and agriculture industry, learning about risk management, food and agribusiness, legal issues, and marketing of food products, with a particular emphasis on the unique problems that Indian Country producers face. Over the course of the week, they heard from national leaders on each of these topics.

Northwest Arkansas is home to a wide variety of food and agriculture industries, ranging from the smaller farms at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, who sell food to a local client base, to larger industry leaders like Tyson, WalMart, and Sams Club, who sell food on a global scale, and the students were able to engage with representatives from these smaller farms and larger companies while attending the Summit. Throughout the week, they also worked together in small groups to create a business plan and proposal for a fictional farm or agribusiness. The Summit was made possible by our generous program partners at Intertribal Agriculture Council, FFA (formerly the Future Farmers of America), the Farm Credit Council, and the Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Without their help, we could not have provided such excellent programming for the students.

To see some of their activities in action, check out this Prezi compiled by Elise Clote, one of our student leaders and Graduate Assistants to the Initiative:

Engaging the next generation of Native American farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness leaders is one of our primary goals here at the Initiative, as the future of food and agriculture in Indian Country is in their hands. It was a joy to watch this first class learn and grow over the week they were here, and we know these forty-four incredible students will continue to accomplish great things for Indian Country throughout their lifetimes. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook for updates from the field as we keep up with our first class of future leaders! 

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