Conservation Commons

Food and Good Spirits at the Smithsonian 2019 Teen Optimism Event

Previous Teen Earth Optimism events have engaged kids in the conversation around environmental challenges.
Previous Teen Earth Optimism events have engaged kids in the conversation around environmental challenges.

Next March, teenagers will take over the Q?rius The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) to talk about food. For its third consecutive year, at the Teen Earth Optimism event, kids from 13 to 19 years old will participate in conversations about the challenges facing the planet and solutions that are making an impact.

This time, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Conservation Commons Sustainable Food Systems team, they will explore ways to make informed decisions regarding food, discussing a wide variety of topics from nutrition to health, sustainability, food security and the cultural underpinnings of what we choose to put in our mouths.

The 2019 Teen Earth Optimism event will start off with a panel of teens sharing stories about food from a broad range of perspectives. The panel will be followed by four simultaneous ‘empowerment sessions’ on nutrition, cultural connections, food innovations and ethics.

“We really want these to be opportunities for kids to do the talking. To challenge them with things to think about, including decision making,” explained Jennifer Collins, Manager of Ocean Education at NMNH and lead organizer of the Teen EO event.

After the ‘empowerment sessions’, participants will explore conversation stations around the Q?rius Education Center and talk with different people and organizational representatives of a wider range of food associated topics, including current research being done by NMNH in related fields.

The final component of the 2019 Teen Earth Optimism event will be a food social, an informal space to hang-out, while trying local, sustainable foods.

Ultimately, the event will offer kids the information they need to discuss food with scientists, food experts, community leaders and peers. Organizers will also highlight other Earth Day events, internships, local projects, places to visit and more ways to get involved with food and other planet savvy topics.

The event will take place on Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 1pm to 5pm at Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Registration is open and free, and can be done here. Interested teens can also register at the door on the day of the event.

The Conservation Commons is an action network within the Smithsonian Institution (SI), highlighting the relevance of science and innovative interdisciplinary approaches across science and culture to on-the-ground conservation worldwide.

Next March, kids will have the opportunity to explore ways to make informed decisions around food, from a wide variety of perspectives. (National Museum of Natural History)
Leila Nilipour

Leila Nilipour is a bilingual science and culture journalist based in Panama City, reporting conservation stories for the Smithsonian Conservation Commons Initiative. She won Panama's Premio Nacional de Periodismo for best cultural journalism in 2017 and curated literary and writing workshops for the 2018 Feria Internacional del Libro. She is a founding member of Concolón, Panama’s first independent NGO dedicated to the promotion of nonfiction writing in Panama.

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