Redesigning Our Future: Rachel Carson Council and Catawba College

“It was great to see young students engaged and interested in CAFO issues and coming together to make solutions—seeing that farmers and community members should work together” ~ Rose.

Photo shows the Scattegories activity that resulted in a tug of war “battle” to determine each groups facilitator for the next portion of the event. Elijah, in the center, enthusiastically cheers both teams to tug for the environment!

Amidst the beautiful rays of the summer sun, Catawba College’s Center for the Environment partnered with the Rachel Carson Council to provide an interactive workshop on hog farming and agriculture in North Carolina. As part of their Redesigning Our Future youth summer program, the Center introduces high schoolers ages 14-17 to environmental sciences and mentorship while highlighting the various career opportunities in the field. To bolster the students’ experiences, RCC’s workshop focused on the social components of environmentalism, by highlighting the significance of large scale agriculture in both North Carolina’s economy and environmental landscape.

The students were pleasantly surprised that the session began with embodying the relationships between farmers and their pigs, as a way to provide a lens through which students can examine the difference between small scale hog farming and large scale industrial agriculture. Through the program, students split into two separate groups (i.e. contract growers & frontline community members) to develop an understanding of their respective roles experience with pork agriculture in NC. To close the experience, these young growers and community members “faced off” in a small-scale debate to understanding their counterparts experience around hog farming and improving the conditions for both communities.

Victoria, a joint masters and J.D. candidate at Duke and intern with the RCC, and Elijah, the environmental program associate of the Rachel Carson Council, wanted to push the envelope with the students to highlight the impacts of media and messaging on one’s perception of the world. Though it is a small-scale representation of work happening in North Carolina, it highlights the importance of community building “across the lines” to generate inclusive solutions with local utility.