SVHS to demonstrate AppHarvest project at TEDxCorbin

Lettuce grown as part of a project between AppHarvest and Shelby Valley High School is shown under special lights used to help grow the vegetable in February. It was announced this week that the Shelby Valley project will be a focus of the TEDxCorbin event set to be held Saturday.

High-tech agriculture company AppHarvest announced details this week of a sold-out panel discussion about technology at TEDxCorbin, the first-ever edition of the independent event series to be held in rural Appalachia featuring Shelby Valley student Olivia Thornsbury and Shelby Valley High School Principal Greg Napier discussing the AppHarvest project in its first year at the school.

Titled “How to Use Technology to Develop Resilient Economies,” the panel discussion will explore how to use technology to facilitate collaboration and build diversified economies, which are better able to withstand industry downturns. The discussion will be part of the event’s broad dialogue on moving forward together.

Thornsbury is among the 33 student innovators operating the AppHarvest AgTech container farm. As a team lead she is helping shape the program at her high school.

In partnership with AppHarvest, Thornsbury and her classmates will be providing leafy greens for TEDxCorbin that will be prepared by featured chef Matt Corbin, owner of Pikeville’s The Blue Raven restaurant and pub.

Napier in January launched an AgTech class in which students operate a container farm, growing leafy greens such as red leaf lettuce which are sold to local resturants such as Blue Raven, Bank 253 and others. More than 80 students applied for the 33 available seats, validating Napier’s vision. “Our goal is to give students an opportunity to explore new careers,” he said. “This is a heck of an educational opportunity.” 

Other panelists include:

• 2819 Studios Founder Justin Hall, honored as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2017, and according to the release, Hall grew up in Eastern Kentucky and taught himself to code while recovering from back surgery. Hall helped launch an initiative in the region to teach computer programming to laid-off coal miners and now runs his own technology company, BitSource.

• Shaping Our Appalachian Region Executive Director Jared Arnett, who serves as the founding leader of this bipartisan initiative launched by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and former Gov. Steve Beshear. SOAR’s mission is to improve Eastern Kentucky’s economy and quality of life. According to the release, prior to joining SOAR, Arnett helped 10 successful startups expand in the region.

TEDxCorbin, an independently produced event under license from TED, will be held Saturday, March 9, however the event is already sold out.

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