To Spearhead advancements in BNRE science, engineering, and technology for small scale producers fostering cross-collaboration and identifying next-gen sustainable technologies.

The Impact of Dr. Uzochukwu and Pioneering Sustainable Horizons

Portrait of Dr. Uzochukwu

Steered by the visionary Dr. Godfrey A. Uzochukwu, the National Conference on Next-Generation Technologies for Small-Scale Producers marked a significant milestone in sustainable farming. As the Executive Chair of the Organizing Committee, Dr. Uzochukwu was instrumental in catalyzing a fusion of ideas and expertise, setting the stage for transformative discussions. His leadership bridged global perspectives, sparking innovation and actionable solutions in sustainable agriculture.

In a surge of innovative spirit and collaborative energy, the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 emerged as a groundbreaking epicenter for agricultural evolution. This forum was not just a meeting place but a vibrant crucible of ideas, where pioneers in agriculture, technology, and environmental science converged. Here, the pressing issues of our times - climate resilience, cyber security in farming, the quest for farm justice, and the complexities of food security - were not just discussed but dynamically explored and challenged. As the conference unfolded, it became a living showcase of the future, revealing the latest advancements in planting and harvesting automation. These sessions weren’t mere presentations; they were vivid demonstrations of how technology is reshaping the very fabric of agriculture. The essence of the conference was its transformative approach, turning rigorous research in sustainable technologies into tangible, real-world solutions. It was here that the seeds of a new agricultural era were sown. An era where innovation is meticulously tailored to empower the small-scale farmer, ensuring that every breakthrough is a step towards a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future in farming.

Forging a Sustainable Future: Highlights from the Conference

In today's rapidly shifting agricultural landscape, the call for sustainability is louder and clearer than ever. The NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 transcended the conventional academic gathering, evolving into a vibrant nexus of innovative minds. Our objective was to delve deeply into next-generation solutions specifically designed for small-scale producers. This event was not merely a congregation of minds but a dynamic fusion of visionaries, researchers, and passionate farmers. The discussions ventured beyond present challenges; they shaped a vision for a future where every farm, regardless of size, flourishes sustainably. Through engaging discussions, eye-opening technical showcases, and hands-on demonstrations, the conference addressed the real challenges faced by today's small-scale farmers. For college students aspiring towards the future, this conference represented more than just an educational experience; it was an invitation to join the dialogue that is steering our planet towards a sustainable future.

Spotlight on Student Research Presentations

A dynamic and inspiring feature of the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 was the array of student presenters. These bright, up-and-coming scholars showcased their cutting-edge research through engaging poster presentations. Their displays offered fresh insights into sustainable agricultural practices, reflecting both the depth of their academic rigor and their innovative spirit. This platform not only allowed students to share their valuable research with a wider audience but also fostered an environment of learning and exchange between seasoned professionals and the next generation of agricultural leaders. Moreover, this interaction served as a catalyst for novel ideas and partnerships, underlining the conference's role in shaping a future where academia and industry collaboratively drive agricultural advancements.

Exploring Agricultural Innovation in VR

Attendees experienced firsthand the transformative potential of virtual reality (VR) in agriculture. Captured in the photographs, participants were immersed in a virtual farming world using Oculus VR headsets. This hands-on experience was not just about the novelty of technology; it was a window into how VR can revolutionize our approach to farming. By virtually navigating agricultural environments and processes, attendees gained a deeper, more intuitive understanding of sustainable farming practices. The use of VR served as a powerful educational tool, demonstrating how emerging technologies can be harnessed to enhance learning and operational efficiency in agriculture. The integration of such innovative technology highlighted the conference's dedication to pioneering modern, practical solutions in agricultural education and development.
Attendee utilizing virtual reality

Engaging Dialogues: Round Table Discussions 

The NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 was enriched by a series of round table discussions and focus groups, as captured in the accompanying photos. These sessions were hubs of dynamic interaction, where attendees exchanged ideas, challenged perspectives, and brainstormed solutions. The discussions brought together diverse minds, from industry experts to academics, fostering a collaborative environment essential for driving forward the future of sustainable agriculture. Moreover, these dialogues not only sparked innovative thoughts but also laid the groundwork for ongoing partnerships and initiatives, further solidifying the conference's impact on shaping a more sustainable and technologically advanced agricultural landscape.

Alabama A&M University’s Small Farms Research Center and Participants

Alabama A&M University’s Small Farms Research Center played a pivotal role in the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 as both a sponsor and an exhibitor. Their sponsorship showcased their commitment to advancing sustainable practices in small-scale farming. At their exhibition booth, the center displayed innovative research and practical solutions tailored for small farms, highlighting their ongoing projects and achievements. This interactive display provided valuable insights and sparked engaging discussions among attendees, emphasizing the center's dedication to enhancing sustainable agriculture. Their presence significantly enriched the conference, bridging academic research with real-world agricultural applications.

Virginia State University's Small Farms Outreach Program Insightful Exhibits 

Virginia State University's Small Farms Outreach Program added a rich layer of storytelling to the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 with their thought-provoking exhibits. They brought the world of small-scale farming to life with an engaging photo exhibit, capturing its trials and triumphs through a lens that spoke volumes. Complementing this, their hydroponic garden exhibit was a showcase of forward-thinking, sustainable farming techniques. Together, these displays eloquently underscored the program's dedication to empowering small-scale farmers with innovative and practical agricultural solutions.

VA State Small Farms outreach exhibit
Virginia state University  Hydroponic Farm

Illuminating Insights: Esteemed Speakers of NextGen 2022

The NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 was graced by the expertise and insights of luminaries in various fields. Mortimer Neufville, Ph.D., President and CEO of the 1890 Universities Foundation, led the charge with his profound academic leadership. Andrew Geller, Ph.D., Senior Science Advisor and Executive Lead for Environmental Justice at the EPA, brought a pivotal environmental policy perspective. Representing North Carolina A&T State University with their diverse specializations were Tonya Smith-Jackson, Ph.D., Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Mohamed Ahmedna, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Environmental Sciences; Barbara A. Board, Ph.D., Interim Associate Dean/Administrator of Cooperative Extension; and Eric Muth, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development. Joining these distinguished figures was Kevin Kephart, Ph.D., Deputy Director at USDA NIFA’s Institute for Bioenergy, Climate, and the Environment (IBCE), who enriched the conversations with his insights on bioenergy and environmental challenges. Each speaker's contribution was a beacon of knowledge, collectively tackling key issues in sustainable agriculture, technology, and environmental stewardship. Their presentations and interactive sessions went beyond mere knowledge-sharing, inspiring meaningful action and dialogue aimed at forging a sustainable future in small-scale farming.
Dr. Kathleen Liang
Dr. Liang bridged sustainable agriculture with entrepreneurship, offering practical insights into how small-scale producers can adopt innovative technologies to elevate both their farming practices and business viability. Through real-world examples, the speaker inspired attendees to explore sustainable agriculture not just as a practice, but as a thriving business model.
Dr. Eric Muth
Dr. Eric Muth, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at North Carolina A&T, made a significant impact as both a speaker and mentor. In a notable moment, he was photographed shaking hands with a PhD student, symbolizing the vital connection between academic research and real-world agricultural advancements. His expertise highlighted the practical relevance of research in enhancing small-scale farming.

Uniting Vision and Action: Leadership and Civic Recognition at NextGen 2022

Godfrey Uzochukwu and Provost Tonya Smith-Jackson truly captured the essence of collaborative leadership at the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022. Their interactions, ranging from in-depth discussions to shared moments of insight, exemplified a dynamic synergy between academic administration and sustainable technology research. Both esteemed figures, they not only embodied the conference's spirit of interdisciplinary cooperation but also drove its mission towards practical sustainability solutions in agriculture. Amidst this backdrop of collaborative innovation, a significant highlight was the presentation of the NGST Proclamation by Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson of Greensboro, NC. This momentous event, led by a figure deeply committed to public service and community development, underscored the broader societal reach and impact of the conference. Mayor Pro Tem Johnson's recognition of the advancements in sustainable agriculture championed at the conference served as a testament to the fruitful convergence of academic research, civic engagement, and local governance in fostering sustainable initiatives.

The Essence of Inclusive Farming

African American Farmers brought invaluable insights and perspectives to the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022, deeply rooted in their unique experiences and rich heritage in agriculture. Their participation not only showcased the varied faces of American agriculture but also greatly enriched the conference's discussions and learning opportunities. These farmers shared stories and practices that highlighted the resilience and innovation inherent in their communities, offering fresh viewpoints on sustainability and technology in farming. Their engagement at the conference served not just as a testament to their contributions to agriculture but also as a vital step towards building a more inclusive and equitable agricultural sector. It was a powerful reflection of the conference's commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse agricultural community, recognizing the importance of diverse voices in shaping the future of sustainable farming.

Picture of African American Farmers

Exploring the Heart of Agriculture: Farm Engagement

A key highlight of the NextGen Sustainable Technologies Conference 2022 was the immersive farm experience at NC A&T’s 492-acre working farm. Attendees had the unique opportunity to delve into the roots of agriculture, experiencing more than just a tour – it was a multi-sensory journey into the core of practical farming. Participants experienced firsthand the farm's vibrancy through field demonstrations, where innovative agricultural practices were showcased in action. They rode on a chariot-like vehicle, pulled by a robust tractor, for a panoramic view of the thriving farm landscape. As they walked through lush gardens, inhaling the scents of fresh herbs, and observing the sustainable management of both horticulture and livestock, attendees gained a comprehensive understanding of a large-scale, productive farm. The diverse range of livestock and crops, part of the hands-on demonstrations, highlighted the holistic approach to agricultural production. This engaging farm visit underscored N.C. A&T's dedication to its land grant university mission, beautifully weaving together learning, discovery, and community engagement. It provided attendees with a tangible connection to the conference's themes and left them with a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of sustainable agricultural practices, demonstrating how theory is translated into practice in the realm of modern farming.