HC Students Represent at the Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit

By Donel Young
Rob Helsel & Charlotte Singer

Honors College students Rob Helsel ('19, SEBS/HC) and Charlotte Singer ('19, SAS/HC) were awarded scholarships to attend the Smithsonian Institution's inaugural Earth Optimism Summit this April in Washington, DC. Positioned as a master class in saving the planet, more than 150 speakers and 1,000 thought leaders, scientists, artists, environmentalists, and civic and business leaders from around the world, as well as students and young professionals, gathered over three days to share stories of what's working in conservation. Two-hundred student leaders were awarded scholarships to attend.

Charlotte was invited to give a Student Lightning Talk about her research with Professor Robin Brumfield through the Aresty Research Assistant Program. In her talk titled "Urban Agriculture: Environmentally and Economically Sustainable," she discussed the dynamics that make commercial urban agriculture viable and relevant, and the enormous impact that it can make on society and the environment. She said, "It was inspiring to see people so passionate about the environment and explore all of the creative solutions. It affirmed for me that optimism sparks change."

Charlotte Singer speaking at the Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit"This summit afforded me the opportunity to speak with people who I have admired for a long time (and some new heroes as well) in a casual setting I didn't imagine was possible," said Rob. "In the heart of our nation's capital, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, field ecologists, hobbyists, and students converged to discuss and push the boundaries of what works in conservation. Pessimism has accomplished nothing, but the summit confirmed for me that collaborative optimism certainly has and will."

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