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Free conference tackles agriculture and food policy issues

January 9, 2018

Iowa’s largest private university is challenging students and community members to embrace agriculture as a vital realm of civic engagement. The Drake University 2018 Engaged Citizen Conference, “Nourishing (Feeding) the World,” is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 22, and Friday,  Feb. 23 in Drake’s Olmsted Center.

The conference is free and open to the public and will feature panel discussions by a high-profile set of industry representatives, scholars, and policymakers, including a keynote presentation by former Ambassador Darci Vetter, one of the nation’s leading experts on international trade and agriculture.

Drake faculty members, students and community members will lead breakout sessions on topics including agriculture and global health; agricultural labor issues; agriculture, food and the media; and environmental sustainability in Iowa’s agricultural sector.

There will also be a film screening that kicks off a film series, accompanied by a panel discussion with the filmmaker.

“This year’s Engaged Citizen Conference provides Drake students and other attendees the opportunity to examine a wide variety of pressing political and social issues related to agriculture,” said Arthur Sanders, associate provost at Drake University. “The questions that we will explore during the Engaged Citizen Conference benefit from input and engagement from diverse careers and academic disciplines. The interdisciplinary nature of these important issues strike at the core value of a liberal arts education.”

Community members of all ages, professions, and backgrounds are encouraged to attend, said Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University.

“It takes a conscientious and committed community to help feed the world and ensure a sustainable agricultural environment for our children and grandchildren,” Hamilton said. “This conference provides an opportunity for robust, nonpartisan dialogue that helps foster the continued health and vibrancy of Iowa agriculture."

Vetter, a 1996 Drake alumna, served from 2014 to January 2017 as chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, a Senate-confirmed Presidential appointment with the rank of Ambassador. She currently serves as diplomat in residence at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, where she is working to launch the Yeutter Institute in International Trade and Finance.

Documentary Film Series

Filmmaker Graham Meriwether, the writer and director of “Farmers for America,” will lead a free public screening of that film at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in Sussman Theater of Drake’s Olmsted Center, as part of the Engaged Citizen Experience’s Documentary Film Series. A panel discussion will immediately follow the screening.

The film series also includes screenings of “Food Inc.” on Wednesday, March 7, and “We Feed The World” on Monday, April 9. The screenings begin at 6 p.m. in Drake’s Sussman Theater, are free and open to the public, and are followed by a panel discussion.

Conference registration and additional information is available online at www.drake.edu/dc/engagedcitizenexperience/engagedcitizenexperienceconference/.

The 2018 Engaged Citizen Conference is sponsored by the Engaged Citizen Experience at Drake University, David and Carol Golder, The Golder Family Foundation, and the Ronald and Jane Olson Endowment on Global Service-Learning