Dr. Audrey Depelteau, director of the ETSU Innovation Lab, attended the inaugural, invitation only gathering of The Climate Underground in October. The two-day conference was hosted by former Vice President Al Gore at his Caney Fork Farms in Carthage, Tennessee.
The conference convened leading farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs, chefs, researchers, policymakers and other experts to explore the intersection between soil health, food and healthy communities. The program focused on current research and policy areas to advance the development of regenerative practices that reduce carbon emissions, promote soil health and protect Earth’s biodiversity. Depelteau was among those to assist in securing panelists for the event.
“At the Climate Underground, the conversations focused on solutions around sustainable agricultural practices that will capture carbon and grow food,” Depelteau said. “It is the intention for this group to convene either every year or every other year as we explore, research and develop best practices.”
Depelteau serves as a mentor in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, founded by Gore and dedicated to formulating a global solution to the climate crisis. The CRP is committed to building a more just and equitable world, one where all voices are heard and respected. Depelteau mentors three of Gore’s top farm managers - Zach Wolf, farm manager; Gabrielle Hathaway, livestock manager; and Ranan Sokoloff, vegetable and agroforestry manager. Her role as mentor is to assist and support new Climate Reality Leaders throughout their training and to build their capacity to drive change in their communities.
“I am so proud of these young men and this young woman who, through their education and other circuitous routes, have dedicated their lives to sustainable agricultural practices and to making this world a better place,” she said.
Depelteau trained to be a Climate Reality Leader in 2013 and is often asked to speak to various community groups. She will present on a Climate Reality Project, “24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action,” at Tusculum University on Nov. 20 from 7-9 p.m.
Depelteau is also writing a book on climate.
“I will be partnering with others in writing a book that will highlight and advocate for the many initiatives that are already in place or in the works throughout the Appalachian Highlands,” she added. “I already have a preliminary outline for the book and look forward to the many collaborations, interviews and conversations that will occur to bring this to fruition.”
In her role at ETSU’s Innovation Lab, located at 2109 W. Market St., Depelteau assists aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to develop their ideas from concept to commercialization. The lab offers wet and dry lab space, office space, an entrepreneur resource center, meeting rooms and an innovation studio.