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Manitoba teen looks back on Youth Ag Summit experience

Manitoba teen looks back on Youth Ag Summit experience

Emily Robb was one of two Canadians to attend the virtual event

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Manitoba teen’s experience being one of two Canadian delegates during an international youth ag summit will stay with her forever.

“There was such a diverse group of people coming together to talk about things and it really made a lasting impression on me,” Emily Robb told “There were industry professionals and world leaders having discussions on different topics and all of them were connected to agriculture in some way.”

Robb, who is working towards her Bachelor of Science in Agroecology degree at the University of Manitoba, represented Canada at Bayer’s Youth Agricultural Summit in November.

Amanda Hardman, a sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta, was Canada’s other representative.

The biennial event brings together a total of 100 delegates between the ages of 18 and 25. The attendees represent nearly 50 countries.

Learning about crops and farming practices from different parts of the world helped to broaden the way she thinks about agriculture, Robb said.

“Just last night I was attending a workshop about presenting pitches with members of my group and I was talking to someone from Indonesia who told me one of the main sources of food there is the honey pumpkin,” she said. I was talking to someone in Malaysia who talked about using mirrors on the underside of their greenhouses to reflect sunlight onto the underside of the plant leaf to photosynthesize that as well and optimize plant growth.

“Listening to these ideas and learning from others has certainly opened my eyes and helped me see things other than from my western Manitoba agriculture mindset.”

As part of the application process, interested youth had to present project ideas and examples of advocacy work on the event’s overall theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet.”

Robb’s current project is based on developing specific hydroponic fertilizers for crop growth.

It’s an extension of a science project which earned her multiple science fair awards.

Her experience at the summit proved to her the work she’s doing will be worthwhile in the future.

“There was a lot of talk about urban agriculture and I think hydroponics fits in nicely there because its scalable and you can put it almost anywhere,” she said. “Hydroponics can help reduce carbon emissions and also help people know where their food is coming from if they’re able to grow it in their high-rise apartment building. It gave me a boost of confidence knowing the work I’m doing is going to be valuable.”

Work on her hydroponic fertilizers is on the backburner for now.

School is the priority, she said.

“School has taken up so much of my time and I’ve communicated to Bayer that my academics come first,” she said. “But I’m still plugging away to source things, see if my project is feasible and how I can scale it. Maybe in the summer when the academic year isn’t going so hard I’ll have an opportunity to do more work on it.”

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