Roger Williams University Reports Feeding the Planet

Roger Williams University seniors Nicholle Buckley and Christopher Ferreira were among the attendees at the Feeding the Planet Summit. These journalism students came to DC, experienced the city and met with leaders and innovators in the agricultural field. They also presented their own innovation, RWU's oyster farming aquaculture project. In addition to recording video blogs at the summit, both students wrote about their experiences on their class blogs.

Off to Washington!

By Nicholle Buckley - November 6, 2013

This past week, with Professor Michael Scully and four of my fellow classmates, I attended the Planet Forward conference at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. We flew out of T.F. Green on Tuesday around 2 p.m. only to arrive in Baltimore 59 minutes later.

When we entered baggage claim there was a man with an electronic message on his tablet reading “Michael Scully.” Yes, we had a driver waiting for us! It took less than an hour to get to our hotel in Dupont Circle. We dropped our stuff off before walking towards the White House.

RWU Students at the Lincoln MemorialWe went to dinner at a restaurant called Vapiano. It was delicious. We called it an early night and went to bed knowing the next day was going to be a big one!

The last time I was in DC, I was 8 years old. I was so excited to be back considering my political knowledge and cultural literacy has grown since I was a child. My friend Chris, and fellow journalism major, spent last semester in DC with the Washington Internship Institute and interning at CBS, so he was ecstatic to be back. He was pointing out every street and every building explaining what it was. He was like a little kid on Christmas.

Nicholle records her video blogScully met us in our hotel lobby on Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. We walked over to the Jack Morton Auditorium and checked-in. The Feeding The Planet Summit began sharply at 8:30 a.m. I was already loving it because they asked us to tweet using the hashtag #FoodFWD. Yes, tweeting during a professional conference. I kind of love it.

One of the first speakers was Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc (who we later ate lunch with). The question to be discussed was how we would feed 9 billion people in 2050 and beyond. We also discussed climate change, innovation, GMOs and NGOs.

Other speakers included:

  • Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The GWU
  • Dennis Dimick, the Executive Environment Editor at National Geographic Magazine
  • Amy Harmon, Pulitzer Prize winner at The New York Times
  • Jeff Simmons, President of Elanco

And many more, BUT the highlight of the day was when our video was shown. Since the moment we all arrived on campus late this summer, we’ve been producing a video about oyster farming in Rhode Island. The star was Heather Kinney, a senior at Roger who works out by the learning platform with the oyster cages. The expert was Dale Leavitt, professor of marine biology, and the big-picture guy was Kyle Hess who owns his own oyster farm off of Hog Island.

Read the PDQ article:

AND watch it!!:

Nicholle in front of the White HouseProducing it was a lot of work. We spent hours filming b-roll, interviewing, taking photos, story-boarding, editing using Final Cut, researching and preparing. I got to practice my journalism skills and learn about a topic I normally wouldn’t find interest in.

Overall, the experience was so rewarding and fun. Working closely with my peers allowed me to learn. Professor Scully was a great mentor. Frank Sesno welcomed us to D.C. with open arms (cliche, I know). The biggest honor was representing RWU. I hope we made you proud!

Crickets and Job Applications

By Christopher Ferreira - November 12, 2013

The title of this post might throw you off.  Crickets and job applications, what do those have to do with anything remotely related to Roger Williams?  Well job applications makes sense seeing how I will be out in the real world in just a matter of months (starting to freak out just a little bit).  I have started the task of looking for job openings that I can apply to as graduation is just around the corner.  It is a pretty stressful task.  Finding a job that fits what you want can be difficult, especially in today’s market.  I have learned that you have to take some risks and be willing to take whatever comes your way.  But more on that topic will come in later posts as the process is just getting started. But crickets?  Well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

RWU Students in front of the White HouseLast week I had the pleasure to accompany one of my Journalism Professors, Michael Scully, and four of my fellow journalism classmates to Washington, D.C.  There, we attended the Planet Forward “Feeding the Planet”conference which we had produced a video for.  Our video centered around the idea of oyster farming and aquaculture here in Rhode Island and how a lot of the most innovative technology is being produced and used right here at RWU.

During the conference there were a number of presentations all related to innovations that can help to move our planet forward and to feed the estimated nine billion people that will live on our planet by the year 2050, yeah that’s right — nine billion.  The numbers were shocking to me.  I came to this conference as a journalism student but learned much more related to the fields of science and sustainability than I had expected to learn.  There were Pulitzer prize-winning writers, CEOs of Bayer and Land O’ Lakes and even a woman from Kenya who is trying to clean up the way that food is produced in her country.  But one presentation stuck out to me in particular, and here is where the crickets come in.

Harman Johar's CricketsHarman Johar took the stage to introduce his innovation, crickets.  Yes that’s right, the little brown bugs that chirp all night.  Johar is using crickets as a food source to grind up into flour that can be used to bake breads and other goods.  This idea stuck out to me because of how simple of an idea it really is.  Crickets are relatively inexpensive to produce, they do not need a lot of space to grow (they can live on top of each other) and they are so rich in protein and fatty acids (the good kind).  These crickets can be brought to nations and areas of the world where food is scarce and used to provide essential nutrients in such a simple manner.

Now I know what everyone is thinking.  Crickets…really…No way.  I did in fact taste the crunchy little critters.  In fact after Harman Johar’s presentation I had to, I could not pass up the opportunity to taste the idea that may just help to save some lives.  The verdict?  Delicious.  The first cricket I tried was a plain unsalted one.  While it tasted mainly like a sunflower seed the gross factor of the little legs was there.  The second one that I tasted was covered in a teriyaki coating and it really was delicious.  It tasted just like teriyaki chicken…just with legs and a crunch of course.  But in all seriousness, the crickets weren’t all that bad and if such a simple idea such as this one can help to feed millions, possibly billions, then I am all for it.  To learn more about Harman Johar’s crickets visit his website

Chris prepares to taste cricketsTo wrap it up, here is the link to a brand new FREE iBook titled “Oyster Farming.”  This iBook was another product of our oyster video project and is a multimedia iBook of the same topic.  In it you will find history and features about the people who are growing oysters here in Rhode Island.  It features both the written word along with videos and slideshows and all of it is original content.  A lot of time and hard work went into the book and I highly recommend that everyone checks it out.  It can be downloaded with the iBooks app for Mac or iPad and once again it is free!  We would love to know what everyone thinks of it.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.