LEAF’s teenag­er engagement

Over sixty teenagers from across the country came together on12th September to debate and discuss issues around farming and food production and help shape the future direction of how the industry engages with young people.

LEAF Education’s Teenager Engagement Day, held at the award-winning educational facility, The Farmschool in Harpenden, was attended by LEAF Honorary President, HRH The Countess of Wessex. The outcomes from the event will feed into a wider research study, supported by Rothamsted Research, exploring young people’s views, beliefs and values in relation to food, farming and the countryside.

As LEAF Education looks to extend its outreach to teenagers, the event represented the first in a series of new and exciting initiatives aimed at understanding the way in which 12 to 18-year olds view food and farming and crucially, involving them as it formulates its future strategy and priorities.

During the day teenagers led and participated in discussion groups debating issues such as outdoor learning, health and wellbeing, communication, careers in agriculture and linking schools with farming.

Speaking at the event, Carl Edwards, Director, LEAF Education said: “Engaging young people in farming and food production is vitally important; both to the future of the agricultural industry as well as for their own health and wellbeing.

“Today’s event was all about listening to teenagers, hearing their ideas, finding out what issues matter most to them and why they feel disconnected to farming and the outside world. It has been a truly inspiring day.

Professor Angela Karp, Director for Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships at Rothamsted Research, said: “It has been so refreshing to hear directly from young people on the challenges we all face in producing sufficient, nutritious food for future generations and caring for our environment at the same time."

LEAF Education will now work with the facilitator students from Brockhill Park School to analyse the outputs from today’s Teenager Engagement Day; combined with the results of a wider research study, supported by Rothamsted Research, involving an omnibus survey carried out amongst 12 to 18 year-olds – to shape future outreach activity. The research findings will be revealed and presented alongside an outline of forthcoming LEAF Education activity at the LEAF Education and Public Engagement conference on 16th October, held at Rothamsted Research Institute.