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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Growing Urban Leaders in Food Systems (GULFS)


GULFS is a dynamic, interactive, and engaging youth-centered curriculum developing youth leaders in food systems change. Focused in Milwaukee and Madison, we aim for youth to learn constructive ways to create tangible change and support their families and communities well-being through a food systems lens. The curriculum is written for teachers to use both in the classroom as well as in community programming and designed to deeply engage students in becoming leaders in their academic and/or community contexts.


Currently, there are very few young leaders of color within the movement around food systems and sustainable agriculture, which also encompasses urban agriculture. This is not representative of the diversity of people who are affected by this work. Michael Fields Agricultural Institute seeks to cultivate young leaders from diverse communities in southern Wisconsin so they can help shape the future of food and agricultural policy and benefit their own communities and others like them.


1. Educate young people of color in Southern Wisconsin about basics of civic engagement and community empowerment, using food systems as the lens. 2. Encourage young leaders of color in Southern Wisconsin to pursue work in Food Systems/Sustainable Agriculture change-making. 3. Engage students with real-world opportunities to address inequities in the food system and create job opportunities for young leaders.


GULFS works closely with school leadership, curriculum, community program leaders, and other partners to co-develop an implementation plan that aligns with the mission and vision of those teaching. Since GULFS is aligned with Common Core State Standards,the curriculum can be adapted for multiple purposes and across content areas. In order to see maximum benefit for student outcomes, we encourage school leaders to implement GULFS curriculum at least three times per school year (i.e., once in the fall, winter and spring) for a one-or-two week session.


The GULFS curriculum has been developed with our national educational consultant, Nicodemus Ford. We have designed it to be flexible to the needs of teachers and community partners in addressing subject material and skills they wish to cover. Skills taught in the curriculum include role-playing, research, presentation skills, conflict-resolution, teamwork, communication, and critical thinking.

We are continuing to develop the curriculum to cover additional topics and to respond to feedback from students and partners groups. Our existing lessons cover the basics of what a food system is, exposure to real people working in the food system, community engagement, and various other food systems issues. Make sure to check back in with us to hear about our program updates and feel free to contact us with questions and/or interest in the program.


Below is a collection of photos we have from our work with our various partners piloting lessons from our curriculum.