Oct. 13 2017 01:37 PM

“Shark Tank-style” event funds innovative solutions to bring dairy farm-to-table story to life in schools and communities

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

Students from the Kansas City area were given the unique opportunity to participate in the AdVenture Capital Farm-to-Table Challenge presented by Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), and supported by GENYOUth and Midwest Dairy Council. The event fostered student-led, dairy farm-to-table themed ideas to drive changes in their schools and communities.

AdVenture Capital (AdCap) empowers passionate student entrepreneurs to create healthy school communities. Conceived in 2013, the program is open to students ages 13-17 across the country and provides funding, resources and the support of business mentors to help students cultivate and implement their ideas that improve access to healthy foods and physical activity. In the process of thinking and acting like entrepreneurs, students develop 21st century skills that help them to succeed in school and in life.

In teaming up with DFA, the AdCap Farm-to-Table Challenge taps into students' desire to make an impact in their community, and participate in the conversation around agriculture and sustainable nutrition, in which students learn more about how their food is grown and produced as well as careers in modern agriculture. Students cultivate ideas and compete to win grants to support projects that inspire youth to understand and explore the breadth of careers in agriculture, bring the dairy farm-to-table message to life or increase access to and consumption of nutritious foods, including milk, cheese and yogurt, in school communities.

“Innovation and community are core values for DFA. As a farmer-owned cooperative, we’re excited to sponsor this event with AdVenture Capital to engage with area students to help educate about nutrition and agriculture as well as the important role farm-to-table plays within local communities and the global economy,” said Monica Massey, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff at DFA.

Students worked with DFA employee volunteer mentors to develop farm-to-table solutions through rapid prototyping and design thinking exercises. They pitched their ideas to a panel of judges (consisting of DFA leadership) in what has been described as a “mini-Shark Tank-style” competition. At stake for each student was the chance to walk away with a $1,000 grant to bring their big idea to life.

“America’s dairy farmers are committed to supporting youth health and wellness and to ensuring that they have access to nutritious foods in and out of school including milk, cheese and yogurt,” said Lucas Lentsch, CEO, Midwest Dairy. “In partnering with DFA, a member of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy board, around an AdCap event focused exclusively on dairy-related, farm-to-table projects, we are leveraging an established youth engagement platform to inspire further interest in the importance of sustainability and innovation in farming and farm-to-fork initiatives within our schools and communities, while also providing students with an awareness of future career opportunities in agribusiness.”

At the end of their “design time,” students pitched individually to a panel of judges, which included DFA executives, members and more:

  • Renee Cool, Vice President, Legal and Chief Compliance and Integrity Officer, DFA
  • Tom Kane, Vice President, Talent Management and Organization Development, DFA
  • Will Patterson, Manager, Partnership and Development, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Alex Peterson, DFA Member, Central Area, Trenton, Mo.

The judges selected 15 final winners with a total of $15,000 granted at the end of the event to help support the winning ideas and project implementation in schools. Some of the winning projects included:

  • Order of Our Agriculture: An educational program about careers in agriculture, including a shadow day opportunity (developed by students from California Trail Middle School);
  • Fresh Food Life: A program to incorporate local produce into school meals to help involve local farmers in the community and keep school meals fresh (developed by students from Ottawa High School);
  • The Healthy Eating Initiative: A speaker engagement program partnering with registered dietitians to learn more about healthy options, in conjunction with a healthy vending machine (developed by students from Grandview High School);
  • Farm Fresh Food: A farmer engagement program for students at the school to learn more about their local dairy farm and nutritious food options available to them (developed by students from Fort Osage CTC).

“I cannot think of a more fitting partnership to showcase the dairy community’s commitment to meeting the unique environmental and social challenges of a growing global economy, and to exhibit their continued investment in initiatives that are good for the environment, communities and future generations,” said Alexis Glick, CEO, GENYOUth. “We’re proud to partner with innovative organizations who are investing in their communities to help students be healthy, informed, and future-ready adults.”

To learn more about The AdVenture Capital Farm-to-Table Challenge presented by Dairy Farmers of America, visit adcapyouth.org/events/dfa, and if you’re interested in keeping up with the progress of the winning projects from yesterday’s event, be sure to follow @AdCapYOUth, @dfamilk, @GenYOUthnow and @MidwestDairy on Twitter, as well as the hashtags #DFAMilk and #empoweryouthnow. Click here to view the AdVenture Capital 2017 Progress Report: Empowering America’s Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs (a snapshot report developed earlier in 2017 with an overview of the program’s history, successes to-date and vision for the future, highlighting five successful years of learning derived through the efforts and ideas of student social entrepreneurs across America).

About AdVenture Capital

AdVenture Capital (“AdCap”) is a social entrepreneurship program of GENYOUth, which provides funding, mentoring and experiences to students ages 13 and older with ideas for improving health and wellness in their schools and communities. To learn more, visit the digital platform at www.AdCapYOUth.org.

About Dairy Farmers of America

Dairy Farmers of America is a national dairy marketing cooperative that serves and is owned by more than 13,000 members on nearly 8,000 farms in 48 states. DFA also is one of the country's most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients and is a leader in formulating and packaging shelf-stable dairy products. For more information, call 1-888-DFA-MILK (332-6455) or visit www.dfamilk.com.

About GENYOUth

GENYOUth empowers students to create a healthier future for themselves and their peers by convening a network of private and public partners to raise funds for youth wellness initiatives that bolster healthy, high-achieving students, schools and communities nationwide. We believe that all students are change-agents, who deserve the opportunity to identify and lead innovative solutions that positively impact nutrition, physical activity, and student success. For more information about GENYOUth, visit www.genyouthnow.org.

Midwest Dairy Council®, an affiliate of National Dairy Council, is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council is dedicated to dairy nutrition research and education through the investment of 8,000 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states, and is committed to child health and wellness through our collaborative program, Fuel Up to Play 60. For more information, visit MidwestDairy.com. Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook at Midwest Dairy.