A Rotorua student with a passion for sustainable food production is the only New Zealand nominee selected to attend the biennial 2021 Bayer Youth Ag Summit in November.
Kaitlyn Lamb, 17, is one of 100 delegates selected aged 25 and under from around the world.
She is passionate about reconnecting her community back to Papatūānuku through growing organic regenerative food and making compost.
Kaitlyn applied online to attend the summit, and says she was surprised when she found out she was selected.
"I didn't think I would get in. It's normally held in China so feels like a huge deal, however the summit is being held online this year."
She says in November she gets to meet the delegates from around the world, and in February the youth receive mentorship and learn about each other's project ideas.
The project ideas are based around the theme of 'how we can feed a hungry planet'.
"Mine is to have urban farms every one kilometre. We present our ideas and you can be selected as a prize winner.
"What I'm looking forward to most is meeting everyone, especially because everyone will have different experiences from their countries.
"It will be interesting to hear what ideas they have on how we can feed a hungry planet."
The passion and her knowledge of the impact of food production on our environment led to her and her twin Jessica to start volunteering at the not-for-profit environmental group Forest and Bird, leading the Rotorua Forest and Bird youth hub group for youth aged 14 to 25.
As part of this, Kaitlyn runs a range of workshops from composting to tree planting.
In 2020, Kaitlyn was selected as a kaitaki, or a food guide, with Eat New Zealand - another not-for-profit - which enabled her to meet a range of people across the food system, from food waste to people facing food insecurities.
She says this has been a highlight for her so far and she had been the youngest kaitaki.
"What we eat affects our health and wellbeing, and community wellbeing is super important to me."
Kaitlyn began as a home gardener with kaitaki learning about organic agriculture, then was led to the Urban Farmers Alliance, whose aim is to have working farms within one kilometre of each other.
Other organisations she volunteers with include the Rotorua Seed Library, Kai Rotorua, Lux Organics and the Whakarewarewa Pest Control.
Kaitlyn is also the youngest member of Biodynamics New Zealand.
The Year 13 John Paul College student now volunteers on an urban farm in Rotorua, where she is working to learn, support and raise awareness about urban farms.
Her goal is to set up an urban farm to contribute to the Urban Farmers Alliance's aim, and to run community events on it to bring people together.
Kaitlyn's vision is for these urban farms to become hubs where people in the community can buy organic produce within walking distance from their homes and help educate people about where their food comes from.
She plans to study Environmental Science majoring in Environmental Contamination, specifically focusing on soil microbiology, at the University of Canterbury next year.
Kaitlyn believes soil health is one of the key solutions to ensuring the health of ourselves, as well as our planet.
She says it is important for youth to get involved in environmental projects and solutions, as organisations want to hear youth voices.
"We have the opportunity to express our concerns and have a huge role in creating these beautiful solutions.
"If everyone comes together, we can use our different skills to create a better environment.
"If we don't do anything, by the time we are adults we won't have a healthy environment to live in which we need to survive. This is why healthy soil is one of my main priorities."