Upper Sixth Student Lauren Wheeler has been selected as a youth delegate at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit in Brazil. We caught up with her to hear about the exciting opportunity.
How do you feel about being selected?
I’m really excited! I’ve really taken an interest in the environment recently. I think everyone has really begun to realise how much of an issue the challenges currently facing our plant are and that we really do need to come up with some more sustainable solutions. When I saw this opportunity it looked like an amazing way to get involved with developing ideas that might actually have a positive impact in the future. Although, when I applied I never thought that I would be selected!
What was the selection process like?
I had to send in an application form as well as creating about 2-3 minute video about why I thought I deserved to be chosen as a delegate for the summit. I think they said that there were just under 3,000 applications from 140 countries so I feel very lucky to have been chosen! In our application, we had to pitch an idea to develop during the Summit, which would enable food security in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is a huge issue with over 800 million people around the world going to bed hungry each night. My idea was using nutrition education to improve food security in the UK through developing a handful of simple recipes/meal plans which could be taught to all 16-18 year olds throughout the country. My hope was that by giving everyone leaving school or college the confidence to cook straightforward meals using sustainably sourced ingredients whilst on a low budget we could reduce the amount of ultra-processed foods that we import. This is important from a sustainability point of view but also from a health perspective. On average we eat half the recommended amount of fruit and veg and almost three times the recommended amount of sugar daily with 2/3 of adults in the UK classed as overweight or obese so enabling people to cook healthy food seems vital.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to meeting the other delegates from across the world and learning more about their cultures and the specific problems faced by different parts of the world in terms of food security, sustainability, etc. There are 100 delegates from 45 different countries across the globe so it should be really interesting to be able to work with them to hopefully come up with some new ideas for targeting the growing food shortage.
What do you hope to get out of your experience in Brazil?
I really hope to get a better perspective of the challenges that we are currently facing in terms of the global food system and to develop an understanding of the larger picture. Also, I hope to improve my science communication skills and learn more about the process involved in developing an initial idea into a fully formed initiative which has the ability to make a positive impact on the world.
Are you nervous?
Yes, I’m definitely a bit nervous! It’s a long way to go and I will be one of the youngest delegates there so there will be a lot of people with more experience and knowledge than me. However, it will be great to be able to learn from them and I believe that everyone brings something different/ a fresh perspective so I think everyone’s ideas listened to and valued.
What’s next for you?
I’m not sure what I want to do in the future yet but I definitely want to work in a scientific field and would love to have the chance to pursue a career which allowed me to make some sort of tangible difference to someone else’s life.