High school student headed to Global Youth Institute

Someday, Trey Richardson would like to work in a skyscraper—as a farmer. Those two things—high-rise buildings and agriculture—may seem at odds, but Richardson, whose passion is hydroponic farming, thinks this combination may be part of the solution to feeding a world of 9 billion people by 2050.

“I want to be a part of securing the food supply,” Richardson said. “My dream is to create my own vertical farm in a big city.”

A senior at Oakleaf High School in Orange Park, Florida, Richardson will discuss this and other ideas about feeding the world October 13 to 15 at the Global Youth Institute (GYI), a prestigious international conference hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation and held each year in Des Moines, Iowa.

During the three-day experience, he will be among 200 other high school students from 30 states and seven foreign counties who will tour cutting-edge research facilities, meet with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates, and present their research and recommendations to scientific, humanitarian and agribusiness leaders from 65 countries.

“I’m looking forward to being around very influential people who want to listen to my ideas and see how the leaders of the industry are combating tough issues in today’s world,” said Richardson. “Also, the chance to hear other high school students’ opinions and ideas about these issues is very exciting.”

This past July, Richardson’s essay on promoting sustainable agriculture in Haiti earned him a spot at GYI when he presented it to a panel of judges at the Florida Youth Institute (FYI). FYI is a week-long summer program sponsored by the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the World Food Prize Foundation.

“My favorite part about FYI was the hands-on approach we took to learning about the agriculture industry,” Richardson said. “For example, visiting the UF/IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center in Live Oak, Florida, was a great experience for me. I was able to learn about the different hydroponics systems they are researching and using. Considering that I would like to use hydroponics in my career, getting my questions answered by an expert in the field was very beneficial.”

Richardson and three other FYI participants will attend GYI this year. Once they enter college, all GYI attendees are eligible to apply for the Borlaug-Ruan Internship, a program offered by the World Food Prize Foundation that sends students all over the world to study with top agricultural researchers.

“I will definitely want to make the most of this opportunity when I go to college,” Richardson said of the internship.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Contact: Elaine Turner, 352-392-1963, returner@ufl.edu

Charlotte Emerson, 352-273-3575, cemer@ufl.edu