On June 25, master's and doctoral students from the Royal University of Agriculture and the National University of Battambang, Cambodia organized their first student-led symposium, "Youth Engagement in Sustainable Agriculture." The main goal of this symposium was to bring together high school students, undergraduate students and researchers to explore conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification practices.
The symposium took place at Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with the participation of many international and national speakers from Iowa State University, the S-3 Cambodia Project from the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab, Corteva Agriscience and the Cooperation Office. The symposium was sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition, the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab and the Digital Tools, Geospatial and Farming Systems Consortium of the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab.
Ignacio Ciampitti, director and lead principal investigator for the consortium, attended and presented the closing remarks for the symposium.
"This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to make a real-world impact on our young generations and to foster the importance of agriculture in our society," Ciampitti said.
Additionally, the symposium serves as a platform for creating a teamwork environment and capacity development for graduate students.
"As a graduate student, I never imagined that I could have a chance to learn from the mentors, interact with international and national speakers and work together with other graduate students to organize this symposium," said Sreypich Chhun.
"This symposium had high impacts on organizers and participants, including high school students, to recognize the sciences of agriculture," said Leangsrun Chea, a mentor at the symposium. "There should be other symposia that engage more students because youth farmers are the future of farming."
Around 130 students attended the symposium, with several high schools presenting topics of agriculture conservation, such as the importance of crop rotation, cover crops, and no-till. Students visited the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition Agricultural Technology Park to learn more about sustainable agricultural practices. High school students also received awards for creativity, content and best work on their posters.