On October 28th, Vermont First, Farm to Plate, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture hosted the Taking Root Student Symposium at the University of Vermont. This symposium was designed for all Vermont college students to celebrate farm to institution and learn about what it means to chart a career in food. The keynote speaker was Ben Hewitt, a Vermont-based author of many books including The Town That Food Saved and Making Supper Safe. Throughout the day, students learned about:
Why farm to institution is important
Innovative work happening in Vermont’s food system
Career paths of many of Vermont’s leading entrepreneurs and thinkers
Resources available at each campus for students to pursue food systems-relevant coursework as well as food-related employment
Current food-related job opportunities; students will also have time to network directly with some Vermont employers in the food industry.
Champlain College student reflections:
Emily Gatz ’20, Graphic Design; Waste Reduction Coordinator on Champlain College Campus
What I enjoyed most was the keynote speaker Ben Hewitt. He shared a lot of anecdotal information which made his speech more personal. Towards the end of his speech he shared a list of fourteen actions that can change your life or others around you, and they are as follows:
Remember it is important to feed yourself with locally grown and even personally grown items
Ask someone for help since most people when asked if they need help say no and use manners (please and thank you)
Turn off the news
Every week write a handwritten letter to a Facebook friend
Eat Dirt! Literally!!
Don’t have a credit card, unless you get cash back and miles
Give something away, especially if it has a lot of worth
Do not fear, someone is profiting off your fear
Look up to the sky in early morning and take it all in
Provocative by choice
Ask a question to have more questions or knowing that there will be more questions coming out of the question (ask good questions, you know – like in Core classes)
The way you spend your time is the way you live your life
Before finishing, he stated “small talk is nothing but it is everything.” I took it as it didn’t matter what they talked about, it was that shared moment, those small moments in life that make all the difference.
I want to be challenged to follow his fourteen points of advance especially writing a handwritten letter to a Facebook friend especially since I don’t talk to most of them on a daily or weekly basis through other means. I hope these pieces of advice will shift my perspective, even in the slightest, so I can live a more positive, sustainable, and healthful lifestyle.
Hansel Alexander Carter IV ’20, Filmmaking; Eco-Rep Area Coordinator
My greatest takeaway from this symposium was from listening to the second round of panelists. As each one told their stories and backgrounds of their experiences, they told of the importance of working your way up to your end goal and making connections in and out of your field. There was one woman who worked as a chef and moved from University to University to France, and then ended up at UVM from a connection she made a while back. It just reminded me to take each day one day at a time and really make an effort to get connected with the people you meet and not set your mind on your end goal. Your end goal will come to you in time, but for now you have to live in the moment.
Lauren Guiney, ’19,Management & Innovation with a minor in Psychology; Eco-Rep