Dublin-Coffman college students study to localize world considerations on the Atmosphere Symposium
The global COVID-19 pandemic continues, but it’s not the only important issue that will guide students of this generation into their adult lives.
Eight students and graduates from Dublin Coffman High School spoke on such topics from October 18-22 at the Global Youth Institute.
The students are enrolled in the AP environmental science course in Coffman, said student teacher Donna Parker.
“The aim of the course is to study the impact humans have on the earth and its resources and how we can solve the problems we create,” said Parker.
The Global Youth Institute of the World Food Prize Foundation invites more than 200 outstanding high school students from around the world to participate.
Selected students and their teachers and mentors travel to Des Moines, Iowa each October to attend a three-day event where they interact with Nobel Prize winners and World Food Prize winners to discuss food security and agricultural issues with international experts, according to Global Youth Institute website, worldfoodprize.org.
However, this year, as in 2020, the mostly personal conference was made virtual because of the pandemic.
Students from across Ohio attended the Ohio Youth Institute and virtually presented themselves in April to panels selected by delegates from the Global Youth Institute.
The eight Coffman students, some graduating from 2021 and moving up to colleges and universities and some upper class who attended as delegates were Lydia Benham, Adam Gluck, Nate Johnson, Nathan Kassis, Himani Pattisam, Mackenzie Pritchard, Maddie Rappach and Benjamin Holzmannsee.
Kassis is a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh studying environmental studies and policy.
Kassis wrote a dissertation on the drought in Malawi in East Africa and presented possible solutions, including international financial aid and the distribution of drought-resistant crops to farmers.
“My research went well with the discussions on agriculture and soil conditions (during) the conference,” which included presentations from students and experts, he said.
The conference dealt extensively with global environmental problems through issues such as drought, water scarcity, malnutrition and food security, Kassis said.
Kassis said attending the conference deepened his understanding of the crisis and further stimulated his study of environmental law and his desire to address challenges in the United States.
Pritchard, a senior executive at Coffman, addressed the symposium on water quality and distribution issues in Cambodia.
Pritchard said she was disappointed that the symposium had to be virtual, but “the various presentations and opportunities to speak to professionals about environmental issues have been very rewarding”.
In Dublin, she said, she will work to reduce the waste she causes by buying products from more sustainable companies and sources.
“When I’m in college, it might be interesting to continue studying water quality issues in Cambodia if I choose an environmental science area,” said Pritchard.
Johnson, a senior at Coffman, wrote about the impact of rising sea levels on the small island nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific.
“The salinity of the invading water creates unsuitable soil conditions for plant growth, while cyclones and storm surges caused by climate change are killing fish populations in the surrounding coral reefs,” Johnson said.
Fish and grain crops, once vital sources of food, are being reduced, forcing the island’s indigenous people to rely on non-perishable and imported packaged foods, he said.
Johnson’s proposed solutions included a marine sanctuary to revitalize fish populations and “agroforestry” techniques, where weaker plants were plated next to stronger ones to better anchor them in the ground.
He presented Dr. Rattan Lal, 2020 Global Food Prize winner and professor of soil science at Ohio State University.
Johnson said attending the symposium created “a heightened awareness of my personal consumption of food, fossil fuels and shared resources” that he will be aware of in the future.
“I want to prioritize sustainable practices from day one in the companies big and small that I may one day participate,” said Johnson.
Benham, a junior at Coffman, said the experience exceeded her expectations.
“It was really fascinating to hear my colleagues discuss their views on what we can do to ensure food security around the world,” said Benham.
Woodmansee, a senior at Coffman, presented the effects of the civil war in Sierra Leone and said it was memorable to work with international students.
The conference “was absolutely amazing,” he said.
“In my group alone there were people from the Philippines, two people from China and one (student) from the Czech Republic … It was so cool to hear from all of these different people,” said Woodmansee.