1,000 NYC Students And Teachers Attend 13th Annual Discovering Sustainability Science Youth Conference

May 29, 2024

NY Sun Works hosted 1,000 young people and educators today at their 13th Annual Discovering Sustainability Science Youth Conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

The nonprofit, which is celebrating 20 years of bringing climate education through hydroponic farming technology to the largest public school system in the U.S. – held a day-long event that featured presentations from students showcasing their hydroponic farm lab experiments and findings, a Career and College Networking event for high students in the elective workforce certification course and interactive activities for all ages, guest speakers from the climate science and sustainability community.

“Today, we celebrate science, our talented young farmer scientists and their committed educators. I am blown away by the students’ presentations which are indicative of the learning happening at our partner school’s Hydroponic Classrooms,” said NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora. “For 20 years, New York Sun Works has been working to prepare our future climate scientists and green-workforce; it is evident that students make meaningful connections between urban farming experiments, sustainability science and the human impacts on current climate challenges.”

“… think small because that can lead to important changes on a local level.”


“Welcome to the Javits Center! It’s exciting to see the future generation who will find solutions to our climate crisis,” said Javits Center CEO Alan Steel. “I know each and every one of you wants to make a difference, which is why I encourage you all to think small because that can lead to important changes on a local level. Thank you for what you are doing today but even more importantly thank you for what you will do tomorrow.”

“Agriculture intersects with everything – with law, business, even event planning and we need you because you are our future leaders,” said Damali Wynter, Assistant Commissioner of NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. “All of this innovation and opportunity that I am seeing today puts you in a unique position and I am confident that you will bring all kinds of new ideas and concepts to the table that we haven’t even thought of yet.”

Students also heard from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Nydia Velázquez, and Representative Daniel Goldman through video messages. The youth event was also acknowledged and celebrated by education leaders. 


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“… translate hands-on learning experiences into solutions …”

“I want to acknowledge the students, administrators, and supporters for their tremendous efforts to execute the 13th Annual NY Sun Works Discovering Sustainability Science Youth Conference. At the U.S. Department of Education, we believe in the importance of a rigorous, relevant, and joyful science education,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten. “We celebrate the youth researchers and are encouraged by their spirit of exploration as they translate hands-on learning experiences into solutions that emphasize sustainability for future generations.

The conference took place – for its second consecutive year – at the iconic New York City structure Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the 1.6-million-square foot facility is one of the largest convention centers in the US and in recent years it has added a feature that put the facility on the path to sustainability – a 7-acre green roof – complete with farm, orchard, and beehives, which students and guests toured during the conference. The event was sponsored by Con Edison, Bear Maple, New York Power Authority (NYPA), Clean Path NY, CVC Capital Partners and EY.

“These hard-working students pooled their motivation, curiosity and innovation to illustrate how science and sustainability solutions show promise in the face of climate change,” said NYPA Environmental Justice program Vice President Kaela Mainsah. “The New York Power Authority is proud to have partnered with New York Sun Works to offer students in 28 schools the opportunity to learn hands-on urban farming and climate education. Sharing their findings in a collaborative environment is yet one more way to build skills that will be needed in tomorrow’s workforce.”

The conference highlights NY Sun Works commitment to delivering inquiry-based K-12 science and sustainability education through the lens of urban farming to all NYC students. The goals are to support each school’s long-term capacity to deliver a high-quality science program; optimize students’ learning experience in the Hydroponic Classroom; and expand access to fresh produce for students and their families, while covering the Common Core, Scope and Sequence and EfS science standards. Hydroponic technology is indoor vertical farming that enables the cultivation of plants in an indoor environment.

“… Partner schools receive ongoing professional development …”

Rather than from the sun, plants receive energy from LED lighting that is tailored specifically to the energy needs of the plants. Partner schools receive ongoing professional development training for educators and weekly visits from a hydroponic specialist to guide teachers in hydroponic systems maintenance, provide planting, harvest, and produce distribution support; and clean, prep, and troubleshoot systems.

NY Sun Works

NY Sun Works is a not-for-profit organization that builds hydroponic classrooms in city schools to teach the science of sustainability through urban farming. Through our comprehensive curriculum, we engage K-12th grade students and educators in hands-on, standards-based sustainability and climate education. We are dedicated to bringing high-quality education to the communities where it’s most needed and envision a generation of environmental innovators, empowered to create solutions to 21st-century climate challenges. Our first hydroponic classroom opened in 2010; today, we’re partnered with over 300 schools and reach 120,000 students annually in New York City and the metro area.

Photo credit: NY Sun Works.


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