Earth Optimism Teen Event – A Focus on Food
Saturday, March 16, 2019, 1-5 pm
Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Free Event for Teens Ages 13-19
- We strongly recommend pre-registration for this popular event, but will accept drop-in attendees if space is available.
- Participants ages 13-17 must have the following signed permission slip to participate. Paper copies will also be available at the event check-in table.
Come Celebrate Earth Optimism 2019: A Focus on Food!
Once again, Q?rius will be closed to the public and open only to teens, plus scientists, curators, community leaders, and other experts in the field of food.
- Hang Out: Meet other local teens and enjoy FREE sustainable and local food!
- Be Empowered: Explore ways to make informed decisions about food: nutrition, health, sustainability, security, culture, and more.
- Be Informed: Talk with scientists, food experts, community leaders, and your peers about aspects of food you never thought of.
- Get Involved: Find out about Earth Day events, internships, places to visit, and local projects.
- Sign Up Here!
What Is Happening? Who Will You Meet?
Hear from teens about how they are making a difference in their communities.
Taste test a variety of foods that will make your tummy happy and expand your horizons. Hang out with other teens and talk with local restaurant and food organization leaders!
Participate in one of the following discussions to problem-solve with scientists, food experts, and community leaders.
Take the Smithsonian Recycling Challenge
This activity will be led by Dr. Eric Hollinger, an archaeologist who helps the Smithsonian study ways of reducing its environmental impacts by diverting its waste to recycling and composting.
Talk informally to any number of these amazing people who view food topics from a range of perspectives. Ask questions, share your ideas, and be inspired.
Ruth Bennett – Migratory Bird Center Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Ruth researches tropical agroforestry in Central America to figure out how coffee and chocolate production can provide better habitat for wildlife. At the Smithsonian, she works with the Bird Friendly program, which certifies shade coffee plantations that support migratory birds and helps those farmers sell their coffee for higher prices. Talk to her about how chocolate and coffee can help people and animals. Habla español.
Kristie Blumer – Organics Solutions Manager, Compost Crew
Kristie is a leader of the Compost Crew. Similar to a recycling service, The Compost Crew collects food waste and other organic material from the local community to be composted and reused. Composting enhances soil, protects our watersheds, creates jobs, and reduces the impacts of climate change. We challenge you to try composting at your home, school, or local organization to promote a zero waste lifestyle!
Eva Boyle – George Washington University
Bathsheba Bryant-Tarpeh – Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, Smithsonian, Office of International Relations and Conservation Commons
Bathsheba’s research has focused on the roles of women in ensuring food and nutrition security in rural communities in West Africa. At the Smithsonian, she has helped to develop the new Sustainable Food Systems initiative at the Conservation Commons, which (in part!) aims to engage with social movements around food justice and sustainability on local, regional, and international scales. Bathsheba first became interested in food systems while spending my summers with her grandparents on their farm in central Louisiana, where they raised cows, pigs, and chickens, and grew okra, green beans, and tomatoes.
Asha Carter – Food Justice Strategist, DC Greens
Asha Carter is a is a social justice educator, community organizer, and the creator of the Community Advocates Program at DC Greens, which builds the power of people most impacted by poverty and food insecurity to affect food policy at the city level. Before her time at DC Greens, Asha served in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and supported teen-led campaigns for environmental justice in Boston. Asha enjoys singing, traveling, and spending time with trees.
Kate Christen – Senior Manager, Conservation Commons Sustainable Food Systems Initiative
Recently, a young artist colleague described her as a Smithsonian "cross-pollinator." It makes her happy to resemble that remark! Every day her work brings her the joy of helping connect diverse Smithsonian science, humanities, and arts units, plus inspired outside colleagues, in conservation and sustainability-focused events, projects and programs. Her work on Earth Optimism and as lead developer on the Commons' new Sustainable Food Systems initiative also cross-pollinates with her métier as a mom. With her teenager she shares both rampant food curiosity and cooking chops, and a commitment to community engagement and empowerment of youth voices and actions as keys to an equitable, sustainable, and biodiversity-friendly new food world order.
Ellie – Teen ambassador with Teens Dream and Global CoLabs
Ellie works on with the Plastic Pollution Reduction project to minimize single-use plastic consumption tied to food and drinks, by connecting DC-area teens so they can work towards common goals. They use their website and virtual meeting room, to connect teens and will be hosting an open house in May! She has connections with a lot of DC area environmental organizations, so feel free to ask her questions about other initiatives.
Shannon Gaffey – Youth Leadership and Garden Educator for Teens, City School Yard Gardens
Shannon works for City Schoolyard Gardens (CSG) as the Youth Leadership and Garden Educator for Teens. CSG aims to create a healthy and equitable future — personally, in community and across systems and structures. We do this through school gardening programs, the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville farms and community markets, and the Charlottesville Food Justice Network advocacy and collaborations. During the school year, Shannon works directly with Buford Middle School students to maintain and grow their school garden, connecting students with opportunities to engage in nature, discover through experience, build equity, lead and cultivate healthy living skills. Shannon also works with CSG’s Youth Interns; local high school students who spend their summers working in CSG gardens, honing their food production, leadership and food justice advocacy skills within their communities.
Julianna Greenberg – Food Recovery Network – UMD
Julianna is a senior at the University of Maryland studying ecology and sustainability and has been involved with Food Recovery Network since she was a freshman. She’s had many roles, but as the president her biggest job is volunteer coordination and scheduling. Through her work, and the work of many others, Food Recovery Network is able to save over 200 pounds of food each night from being thrown away. They help to distribute it to people in the greater DC area who need it.
Pam Hess – Executive Director, Arcadia
Pam is the executive director of Arcadia which is working to create a more equitable, sustainable food system where everyone -- regardless of where they live or how much money they have -- has access to "the good stuff." Arcadia grows food on their farm (and have lots of high school volunteers who help with that!); train military veterans to become farmers; teach school children about healthy food and how to grow it; and run Mobile Markets in 10 neighborhoods that don't have grocery stores and have a high use rate of SNAP (food stamps). They accept and double SNAP so customers can afford more great food -- all of which was grown on their farm and other quality farms within about 120 miles of Washington, D.C.
Jillian Holzer – World Resource Institute
Jillian is leads communications and outreach for WRI's Food Program. As the organization's Vice President for Science and Research says, food is the mother of all sustainability challenges. Jillian's role is to spread the word about the impact food and agriculture have on the environment, and the solution set WRI's developed to ensure we can sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050. She works with top food companies, country governments, journalists, chefs and more to promote issues with real impact — like halving food waste by 2030 and shifting people's diets to be more sustainable.
Paula Johnson – Curator of Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History
I am a curator of food history, which means I do research, collect objects and documents, and create exhibitions and programs around the history of food in the United States. Through artifacts and stories from the past, I help the public understand how the important challenges of today — food security, sustainability, nutrition, innovation, labor, cross cultural understanding, and food justice — have roots in the past that can help us navigate our way forward. Sometimes people think our exhibition on food history has actual food from the past that they can sample; I have to admit it would be kind of cool to taste grains, vegetables, and fruits from earlier eras and diverse places around the globe. Anyone interested in developing a new technology that could accurately replicate foods from the past?
Logan Kistler – Curator of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History
I am an archaeologist who uses ancient DNA and genomics to learn about the origin stories of our food. I think about how pumpkins only exist because of mastodons, I travel to villages in Brazil to learn about traditional agriculture, and I use big data and coding to test new ideas about the history of food.
Krithika – Teen Leader, Teen Eco Network
Krithika is one of the teen leaders for the Teen Eco Network, working to recruit teens to join different Co-Labs. These Co-Labs are networks of passionate local and global teens who are addressing environmental issues. The current Co-Labs include Plastics, Food Security, Climate Change, and Wildlife Conservation. Krithika is also an active member of her school's environmental club. Her current project is to start a composting system at her school to reduce food waste. Come talk to her about Co-Labs!
Gary Krupnick – Curator of Botany, National Museum of Natural History
Dr. Gary Krupnick, head of the Plant Conservation Unit in the Department of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History, examines how data from herbarium specimens can be used in assessing the global conservation status of plant species. He is the Vice Chair U.S. of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, a collaborative body that encourages the health of pollinating animals in ecosystem health, agriculture, and food supplies. Along with the American Society of Botanical Artists, he co-curated the traveling exhibition, "Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World," a convergence of art, science, conservation, and education.
Katrina Lohan - Ecologist, Marine Disease Ecology Lab, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Katrina studies how parasites impact plants and animals that live in coastal waters. Parasites can have both positive and negative impacts on our seafood, impacting the quality and quantity of many types of seafood (including the shellfish, which is her focus), but they are also extremely important to connections across food webs. Her research examines these complex interactions to better understand how to produce enough yummy seafood for all!
Andre Radloff – Science Curriculum Developer, Smithsonian Science Education Center
If you could recommend or decide the things teachers and kids are doing everyday at your school concerning sustainability, what guidance would you provide them? If you could recommend or decide the things teachers and kids are doing everyday at a school in a different country and culture concerning sustainability, what guidance would you provide them? These are some of the questions Andre asks himself everyday in the work he does. Andre works with educators and youth around the world to create and design science education programs, resources, and experiences to support educators and youth ages 8-18 to make local decisions around globally relevant sustainability issues. Through these experiences, he hopes to motivate people to engage in community-based research on global issues that inspires them to take local action towards a fully realized version of sustainability.
David Rico – Cook, I-Collective
David Rico is a cook and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He works for Jose Andres as a butcher and collaborates with a group of Indigenous Chefs called the I-Collective. He hopes to make Native Foods more accessible to the people of DC.
Tracey Ritchie – Director of Education, Earth Day Network
Tracey joined the Earth Day Network as the Director of Education in January 2018. She has held positions from Florida to North Carolina working with Environmental Education programs ranging from sea turtle walks to birding adventures, and local green book clubs to statewide water education programs. Tracey's career has focused on helping people connect to their environment and teaching individuals how their daily actions can impact local ecosystem health.
Malka Roth – Program Manager, City Blossoms Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative Program
Mighty Greens is a youth-led, garden-based, entrepreneurship program of City Blossoms. A cooperative of young people (ages 14-19) that uses school gardens and greenhouses as spaces to learn how to care for edible and native plants while growing our business. Throughout the year we grow, harvest, and share some of the freshest produce and products in D.C.!
Bill Schindler – Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab and Associate Professor of Anthropology, Washington College
Dr. Bill Schindler is the director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and the co-star of the National Geographic series, "The Great Human Race." As an experimental archaeologist, primitive technologist, and chef, his research and teaching — both in and outside of the college — revolve around a comprehensive understanding of prehistoric and traditional technologies especially as they relate to food acquisition, processing, storage, and consumption. He believes that the better understanding of prehistoric life made possible through the archaeological record and a practical understanding of the technologies that created it can contextualize our place in the world and help provide answers to many of the issues facing us today. Bill is a strong advocate of traditional foodways and is constantly seeking new ways to incorporate lessons learned from his research into the diets of modern humans. His outlook on food has revolutionized the way in which he and his family eat and he attributes much of the health his wife and three children enjoy to the nutrient dense hunted, gathered, and fermented foods that comprise a significant portion of their diets.
Carrie Soltanoff – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries: Fisheries Management Specialist
At NOAA, Carrie manages fisheries for species that swim throughout the Atlantic Ocean, like bluefin tuna, swordfish, and sharks. Sustainable management of fisheries is important so that we can eat seafood —- a source of healthy protein! — without harming populations of fish or their environment. Outside of work, she volunteers here at the Sant Ocean Hall talking to visitors about the ocean and climate, in both English and Spanish.
Tambra Stevenson – Founder & CEO, WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture
Curious and concerned growing up in Oklahoma, Tambra wondered why her family members were dying from diabetes, cancer and heart disease, which led her into research, policy, program development. As the founder of WANDA, her life's journey led her to restoring her divine feminine power, reclaiming her heritage foodways, and reconnecting to the land by advocating for women and girls in nutrition and agriculture. As a recovering band nerd and former Future Farmers of America card-carrying member, Tambra's early biology rap days have shifted into writing stories and songs through the "Where's WANDA?" children's book series to spark more healthy eaters, readers, and global foods leaders.
Natalie Sutton – Volunteer Program Specialist, Friends of the National Zoo
Natalie manages and trains both adult and teen volunteers at the Kids' Farm exhibit at the National Zoo. This is a very special place at the Zoo because not only do kids learn about where their food comes from but they also get to connect with the animals and develop empathy towards animals and wildlife. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association for Interpretation, a Virginia Master Naturalist, and a volunteer with the Wildlife Rescue League.
Steve Velasquez – Curator of Culture and Community Life, National Museum of American History
I am a curator who studies food, food labor, immigration history, and Latinx history. I have worked on many exhibits including "Food: Transforming the American Table," "Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964" — which deals with agricultural guest workers — and "Many Voices, One Nation," a 500-year look at cultural history through the lens of migration. I am currently working on entertainment history and a possible exhibit on lowriders.
Ryan Walter – President, The Compost Crew
Ryan has spent his career bringing people and technology together to solve tough problems and make the world a better place. By working to eliminate waste and revitalize our soil, The Compost Crew has made a positive impact in our community. Walter is also an expert dog caretaker and can answer any questions on that. :)
Psyche Williams-Forson - Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Maryland College Park
Psyche is a professor at the University of Maryland College Park and an expert in African-American culture. In particular, she studies the things that are used by society in general and those favored by African Americans. She also studies food cultures. She is interested in how the things we eat convey messages about gender, about class, about race, and space. She is also interested in how power is communicated through food. Food speaks and it says an awful lot of good (and not so good) things!
Taylor Winkleman – Next Generation Global Health Security Network
Taylor is a veterinarian and infectious disease public health specialist concerned especially with the human-livestock-wildlife interface. She spends a great deal of time advocating for the voice of the next generation (students and early career scientists) to be included in the highest levels of discussion on global health. She also writes, creates podcasts, and does flying trapeze.
Anna Wunsch – Treasurer, Food Recovery Network
Anna is a college student in her final year at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is studying Agricultural Science & Technology, with a special interest in food crops! When she's not studying or working, she fights food waste as part of Food Recovery Network — an on-campus organization dedicated to recovering food from campus dining halls that would otherwise end up in the landfill.
Ashley Rose Young – Historian of Food History, National Museum of American History
Dr. Ashley Rose Young is the historian of the American Food History Project at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. At the museum, you can find her hosting live cooking demonstrations with guest chefs and home cooks. Together, they use dishes to explore aspects of U.S. history ranging from the development of the transatlantic economy in the colonial period to the advent of refrigeration technology and Jell-O mania in the mid-20th century. Dr. Young is also a member of the curatorial team at the museum and is working on the "FOOD: Transforming the American Table" exhibition.