Amanda Hardman is one of two people representing Canada
By Diego Flammini
A sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta will represent Canada at a youth event later this year.
Amanda Hardman of Stony Plain, Alta. is one of two Canadians chosen to participate in Bayer’s 2021 Youth Ag Summit (YAS).
“I wasn’t quite sure what my chances were when I applied, so to find out I’d been selected was very exciting,” the 19-year-old told Farms.com. “Being one of only two Canadians selected adds a little bit of pressure but I’m thrilled to be part of the event.”
Emily Robb, an 18-year-old University of Manitoba student studying agroecology, is the other Canadian representative.
The biennial YAS brings together 100 delegates between the ages of 18 and 25 from 44 countries.
As part of the YAS application process, interested youth had to present project ideas and examples of advocacy work on the event’s overall theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet.”
Hardman’s project focuses on biodegradable food packaging to replace plastic clamshell packaging.
“I took a sugarcane fibre to-go box and sprayed it with nano-crystals from wood pulp,” she said. “Together it combines into this alternative to plastic clamshell packaging. The plastic packaging is hard to get rid of and in Alberta, landfills had to stop accepting them because they took up too much space.”
Hardman decided to apply to be a part of YAS after hearing about the experience from one of her friends.
Canada sent five delegates to the previous event two years ago.
“A friend of mine went in 2019 and only had good things to say about it,” she said. “It’s right up my alley with sustainable agriculture and it just kind of spoke to me.”
Hardman hoping to draw on her life experience around the discussion tables.
Being from a rural community but not from a farm gives her a unique look at agriculture.
“I understand what our producers are doing, and I also have an understanding of what people from an urban setting are thinking,” she said. “I’m hoping to bring that kind of middle ground perspective and convey how to approach ag education or how to satisfy consumers while including producers.”
She’s also excited to learn about what projects her peers are bringing to the summit.
“There’s a really wide variety of projects including GMOs and urban farming,” she said. “I’m hoping to learn what experiences they’ve gained from their projects and bring that back to a Canadian or an Alberta perspective.”
The two-day event will take place on Nov. 16 and 17.
Afterwards, delegates participate in a 10-week online mentoring program to help further their research projects.