Lawrence holds Community Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture conference

DSC_0021This Friday and Saturday, April 11th and 12th, Lawrence University hosted the Community Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture (CISA) conference. The program aims to educate the community about sustainable agriculture in the context of career and lifestyle choices.

About 170 people attended the CISA conference, 40 from the Lawrence campus. Visiting students from schools, like University of Minnesota, took advantage of free housing on campus. Many have participated in previous CISA conferences.

During last weekend, the two days were filled with workshops, lectures, luncheons, and social events. CISA held diverse activities for participants, ranging from “Starting a Livestock Operation” to ”Funk with the Mustache” to “Sustainable Agriculture Job Fair”.

sat down with one of CISA’s student leaders, Polly Dalton, to ask about her own motivation to keep the program moving along. She mentioned that CISA is “totally run by students” and “students even help open internships for other students”.

When asked about her own interests in the club, Ms. Dalton responded to saying she enjoyed the “World Café Programing” and “Open Space” events. She liked the fact that it allowed students to exchange ideas, ask questions, and hold casual discourse on present issues, like Nutritional Labeling and GMO foods.

Dalton began volunteering with the Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens (SLUG) her . This played a large role in her interest in CISA . What she really took most from the conference is the fact that CISA invites more people to educate on how we grow and supply our food, allowing us to “quickly jump into meaningful conversation and open ideas”.

CISA has had growing support in Appleton every year that it was hosted here. It is currently led by SLUG and MOSAS, the United States’ largest conference located in Wisconsin. Local sponsors include Green Geco, Kangaroostaurant, and Stone Cellar. Passing years have allowed the conferences to be more openly conversational when educating the public on how food reaches consumers.


The conference was run by two members of the Lawrence University class of 2011 in order to promote awareness of the importance of Agriculture to local communities and to students finding careers/volunteering opportunities.

Two years ago, the program extended from Washington to Connecticut through 38 different college campuses. CISA now focuses on the Midwest region in states, like Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Through community outreach, CISA brings together a diverse audience of college professors, students, parents, farmers, business owners etc.