KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 14, 2022 – Agricultural and food justice advocate Vanessa García Polanco ’18 will present at the 2022 University of Rhode Island Honors Colloquium Tuesday, Sept. 27, discussing “The Exception and Not the Norm: Becoming an Agricultural and Food Justice Advocate.” An alumna of the University, she has received numerous honors for her work and brings her experiences and identities as an Afro-Dominican immigrant to her policy and advocacy activities.
Polanco will speak at 7 p.m. at Edwards Hall on the Kingston Campus and online. This is the second presentation of the fall Honors Colloquium, “Just Good Food,” which will be presented in person and streamed live (video links available on the day of each event, at the link above). Polanco serves as the policy campaigns co-director for the National Young Farmers Coalition in Washington, D.C., working and conducting research in food justice, food systems and immigrants, and traditional underserved or historically socially disadvantaged farmers. She co-designs the strategy and implementation of Young Farmers’ policy campaigns, ensuring equity-driven, farmer-centric research, policy, and programmatic interventions for a more just food system. Polanco also is an organizational council member and co-chair of the Farming Opportunities & Fair Competition Committee of the U.S. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and previously worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.
She is a member of the United Nations YOUNGO Agriculture Working Group and was part of the 2021 New York Times Generation Climate at the UN Conference of the Parties Climate Hub. Polanco is a James Beard Foundation Scholar and a 2021 Emerging Leader in Food and Ag.
Polanco graduated from URI in 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; she participated in the Peace Corps Pre-Program (Agriculture) and URI Honors Program. She also was a member of the Student Senate for four years and was the president of Student Action for Sustainability. Looking forward to returning to campus to speak at the Honors Colloquium, Polanco said, “I have been thinking a lot about how my time at URI prepared me to embark on the roles I have known and the conditions that cultivate success in my field. I am also a we. I also ask, why are there not more young immigrants and New Americans in agriculture policy and advocacy like me? Over 13 percent of the U.S. population identifies as an immigrant and many more as New Americans.”
The URI Honors Colloquium is the University’s premier lecture series. Hosted by the University’s Honors Program, this university-wide educational forum is open to the public. This year’s free lecture series will bring several experts to the Kingston Campus to examine local and global food systems, examining ways to create equitable, sustainable and resilient food systems, on Tuesday evenings through Dec. 13; also online. Learn more about the fall colloquium.