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Paige Kellner will travel to Costa Rica in April to participate in an EF Global Citizen Student Scholarship program.

St. Mary student heads south to Global Leaders Summit

High school student Paige Kellner is part of the growing movement towards sustainability. Since working at Picone Fine Foods in Dundas, the St. Mary student has seen the impact of buying trends on the environment and the economy.

In the past 15 years, Canada’s food imports have risen by 160 percent, a situation that is not only affecting the Canadian farming industry, but the quality and diversity of our food.

The 17-year-old’s research into the growing problem of “food miles” was the subject of a video essay submitted to EF Educational Tours’ annual Global Citizen Scholarship contest. Students were asked to prepare a digital media project or essay on an environmental issue, its global implications and solutions.

After two years at Picone’s, Kellner has seen firsthand the local and global effects of food imports.

“Buying local is sustainable and it benefits everyone, from the producers right down to the consumer,” she states in her video. “It helps preserve farmland, wildlife habitats, and genetic diversity of food.

“Supporting our local farmers and businesses builds our communities, provides local jobs and powers our economy.”

Kellner was recently informed that she had been chosen for an EF Global Citizen Student Scholarship and would join nine other high school students from Canada, as well as 10 from the United States, on a scholarship tour to Costa Rica in April.

The students will learn about environmental and conservation programs, and participate in the two-day inaugural Global Student Leaders Summit in San José. The summit, which features keynote addresses by environmental activists Al Gore, Dr. Oscar Arias and Severn Cullis-Suzuki, will engage students in individual research projects and in-depth collaboration that will equip them with the knowledge and tools to drive environmental change upon their return to Canada.

Kellner, who plans to study environmental sciences at university next September, is excited about the opportunity.

“A trip to Costa Rica with EF Tours in itself will be an amazing adventure,” she said. “What makes it even better is the fact that I will meet new people, build lifelong friendships and learn new skills that will one day help me to make a significant change not only in my community, but also globally.”

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