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The Largest Student Sustainability Event at Penn State

Smeal Citizenship Conference

Photo: Smeal students at the Smeal Citizenship Conference 2017; credit: SCC website

I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Smeal Citizenship Conference this week. Organized by the student group Net Impact and with over 1,500 students, dozens of leading companies, and always a terrific keynote, SCC has become a much anticipated annual event and the largest student sustainability event at Penn State.

It was held this past week on Wednesday April 4th, appropriately on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death. The events upholds many of the values and moral commitment King championed in his life and in his legacy.

The goals of SCC is to create opportunities for professionals and students to connect, educate, and discuss the growing and essential business aspects of sustainability, corporate social responsibility (“CSR”), and ethics.

Big shout out to Net Impact advisor and the always energetic Ron Johnson, Senior Instructor in Management & Organization, and to Will Swart, Gabrielle Klien, Tanya Walia and the full Conference Committee for organizing and putting on this great event.

Matt Carstens, Land O'Lakes sustainability

The keynote this year was Matt Carstens (pictured below), Vice President of SUSTAIN, a new business unit within Land O'Lakes, the agricultural cooperative based in Minneapolis. Since it's founding in 1921 by co-op creameries, the company has focused on improving the livelihoods of farmers and farming communities. Matt began by asking us to raise our hands if we had a connection to agriculture. Only few raised a hand. Then he asked if we ate food. Then all raised their hand.

I will close with a Land O'Lakes video featuring the 19th century poem "The Farmer" by Amelia E. Barr is a powerful reminder of our complete dependence on the land and, therefore, the farmer.

Complete Poem "The Farmer" (19th century poem by Amelia E. Barr) The king may rule o’er land and sea, The lord may live right royally, The soldier ride in pomp and pride, The sailor roam o’er ocean wide; But this or that, whate’er befall, The farmer he must feed them all.

The writer thinks, the poet sings, The craftsmen fashion wondrous things, The doctor heals, the lawyer pleads, The miner follows the precious leads; But this or that, whate’er befall, The farmer he must feed them all.

The merchant he may buy and sell, The teacher do his duty well; But men may toil through busy days, Or men may stroll through pleasant ways; From king to beggar, whate’er befall, The farmer he must feed them all.

The farmer’s trade is one of worth; He’s partner with the sky and earth, He’s partner with the sun and rain, And no man loses for his gain; And men may rise, or men may fall, But the farmer he must feed them all.

God bless the man who sows the wheat, Who finds us milk and fruit and meat; May his purse be heavy, his heart be light, His cattle and corn and all go right; God bless the seeds his hands let fall, For the farmer he must feed us all.

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