Proof that food security and agriculture are of interest to the younger generation is evident from the number of responses to this year’s Baylab Lab Coat Competition.
Over 800 schools entered, involving close to 134,000 students from primary to secondary ages. The response staggered Bayer’s Bethany Leaver, who with colleagues Emma Schierbaum and Grace Beglam (pictured left) now have the sizeable task of sifting through a mountain of entries to select the finalists for the Infant, Primary and Secondary age categories.
What started out five years ago has continued to build and the theme for this year’s Lab Coat event is centred on food waste, an initiative coinciding with the UN’s Sustainability Goals and Food Waste Action Week. The UN aim being to reduce global food waste by 2030.
Students who took part by designing a food waste themed lab coat are now in the running to win a grow-your-own veg pack and a set of lab coats for their class.
Winners will be selected based on the creativity of their lab coat designs as well as how well they express their care for our planet and the food we produce within those designs.
Students who participated could use a template provided in the entry pack, which also included a number of learning objectives based on reducing food waste and its impact. “Our aim is to engage students with how agriculture can help tackle some of the key global issues we face in a fun and inspiring way. Judging by the Lab Coat Competition result, we are doing that,” notes Bethany.
To coincide with the Lab Coat Competition, Baylab also offered schools the chance to partake in a Wacky Wellies Fun-raiser: an activity where students could wear their wellingtons to school for a day, in recognition of our farmers. Schools could raise money for one of three national charities – Alexandra Rose, Feeding Britain, and FareShare – or a local food waste initiative as part of the Fun-raiser if they wished.
100 schools that took part in the Lab Coat Competition participated, with students wearing their wellies to school either as they came or ‘wackier’. 50 of those schools with approximately 11,408 pupils also chose to fundraise. “Again, we were overwhelmed with the response. According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) a global NGO, a third of UK food ultimately goes to waste, which is enough food to provide all chronically undernourished people with ten meals per day, every day, so this activity really helped to raise awareness about the fight against food waste.”
“It was up to schools to decide on the level of donations and how they were distributed to their charity or charities of choice. But if every pupil who chose to fundraise made the suggested donation of £1, that equates to over £11,000 which is just incredible,” notes Bethany.