Climate Change and Food System: Youth Leading the Way

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CCFS Program Participants in the Field

Climate Change and Food System (CCFS) engages Japanese and American young adults (ages 18-30) through a three-month program focused on issues of leadership, sustainable agriculture, climate change, English language development, and the importance and value of the bilateral US-Japan partnership in youth leading the next generation of social and environmental solutions.

This program is funded by the Japan Foundation, and has three pillars where the first and third are virtual and the second is in-person at ARI (Asian Rural Institute), a few hours drive from Narita International Airport in Tokyo. The scholarship covers (1) all coursework and guest speakers online and in person, (2) tuition for ARI, and (3) transportation, meals, and accommodation fees for Pillar II of the program, which will commence on October 31st and end on the afternoon of November 4th.

Any other expenses are participant’s responsibility such as: (1) transportation fees between your home and Narita International Airport, (2) any expenses occurred to obtain short-term stay visa to enter Japan, (3) accommodation or travel outside the program period, and (4) any other personal expenses. If this is your first time traveling internationally, you will need a government-issued passport. Additionally, you might want to check out what to expect in travel expenses from here.

In partnership with

Japan Foundation
ARI logo
Online &
In-Person: 5 days
Online: 28-40 hours
over 3 months
Primarily in English
with little to no
Japanese assistance
See above
Max 25 people

About the Program

With the Japan Foundation’s support, CCFS Year 2 will launch in September 2023, with three main phases: one, a core course in Leadership for Sustainability and Climate Justice that grounds students in the foundations of sustainable agriculture and leadership, and the issues shaping climate change; two, an intensive, in-person, 5day training in Japan at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI); and, three, guided mentoring on how to bring together the experience into a collective action. 

*Program participants must attend all sessions in every phase.

Phase 1: Online Training "Climate Crisis Leadership"

Dates: Sept 30, Oct 7, Oct 14, Oct 21, 2023 (Program time is 23.00-1.00 CET / 17.00-19.00 EST / 14.00-16.00 PST/ 6.00-8.00 *next day JST)
Location: Online (Zoom)

*Orientation will be on Sept 23

During Phase 1, for the duration of two months, we focus on preparatory work in leadership, sustainable farming, and climate change. The topics include, but not limited to:

  • sustainable agriculture
  • climate change
  • leadership
  • community development

Phase 2: In-Person Training "Learning by Doing at ARI"

Date: October 31st – November 4th, 2023
Location: Nasushiobara-City, Tochigi-Prefecture, JAPAN

For Phase 2, participants will travel to Japan for in-person training at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI), which is an international training institute for grassroots rural leaders primarily from developing countries, with the concept of “Foodlife” – a term designed to recognize and value the inter-dependency between life and the food that sustain all life.

During 5 day stay at the ARI, our focus will be on hands-on work in leadership, sustainable farming, and climate change. RootSpring participants and ARI participants have a number of opportunities to interact and learn from each other.

Phase 3: Online Training "Bringing It All Together"

Date: Nov. 11, Nov. 18, 2023 (Program time is 22.00-0.00 CET / 16.00-18.00 EST / 13.00-15.00 PST/ 6.00-8.00 *next day JST)
Location: Online (Zoom)

After returning from the ARI, participants will come together again online to synthesize the learning from Phases 1 & 2 by developing “Leadership Action Plan”. Main focus will be on transforming learning into actions by learning about plan making and movement building.

Follow up session: Dec. 9, 2023 (Program time is 22.00-0.00 CET / 16.00-18.00 EST / 13.00-15.00 PST/ 6.00-8.00 *next day JST)
Location: Online (Zoom)

Participants will come together to check in to share project updates, learn from each other and to reconnect as a whole community.

Program schedule at ARI from last session

Day Theme Activity
Day 1 Introduction to ARI
  • Orientation
  • Campus Tour
  • Discussion with ARI participants
Day 2 Theme I: Seed & Justice
  • Session (Justice Framework, Leadership)
  • Indian Curry Workshop
Day 3 Theme II: Food & Health
  • Session (Eating Healthy, Organic Way of Living, Veganism)
Day 4 Theme III: Soil & Peace
  • Foodlife Work
  • Session (Organic Farming, Servant Leadership)
Day 5 Reflection
  • Overall Reflection

I came to find knowledge, I found myself and community.

Course Details


*Due to the nature of the scholarship, this program is only for those aged between 18 and 30 years old with U.S. citizenship or Japanese citizenship.

CCFS seeks a candidate who

  • demonstrates interest in issues related to leadership, sustainable agriculture, and climate change

Preferably, a candidate who

  • lives and/or studies in areas outside of major urban centers;
  • is directly connected to and/or advocating for groups in their country working on food, farming, and/or climate issues; and
  • is with a demonstrated interest in Japan and/or US-Japan relations.

Application Process (Final Deadline: August 18th)

  1. Submit the program application via the button down below
  2. Upon passing the first round, schedule an interview with RootSpring
  3. Interview
  4. Admission decision will be notified via email
Sunny Watts


Sunny Watts

For over twenty years, Sunny has been an educator with a passion for creating dynamic learning environments for individuals from diverse international backgrounds. When developing curriculum, she focuses on incorporating arts infused disciplines, so as to facilitate active learning where individuals fully participate in their growth and development. She works with GLA participants with a level of devotion, playfulness and flexibility in order to best light up their learning experience. |  Full bio>

English, Italian
J.B. Hoover

J.B. Hoover

JB’s first work in the environment and education began when he was supervising a team of teachers in the Philippines preparing high school age Vietnam War refugees for US secondary school.  The school campus was flat, hot, and dry with very little vegetation. JB obtained 50 Philippine Mahogany seedlings and two thousand Ipil Ipil seeds. With the help of a forester, who also taught at the school, they developed a program for the students to plant and care for the trees. Watching the hundreds of surviving seedlings grow to provide shade and greatly improve the environment excited the students and even more so, JB.  Inspired by this success, JB developed a project in the northern mountains of the Philippines which was highly deforested.  Three partners, two in the Philippines and one in Japan, agreed on a rural development project that included large-scale reforestation. Over the next 25 years of the project, local people managed nurseries and planted thousands of trees on school campuses, community land, private land and on church properties.

This led JB back to graduate school where he obtained advanced degrees in community development and international agricultural development.  Working as a staff member for 12 years at ARI  (Asian Rural Institute) in Japan provided JB with the opportunity to teach.  For over 10 years, both as a staff member and as a volunteer, he taught Climate Change classes. In his role as Executive Director for the American Friends of ARI he obtained a major gift that put a large solar power system on ARI rooftops which provides much of ARI’s electricity needs.

The majority of JB’s climate change work has been as a volunteer. After attending a training by the city of Seattle to be a “Carbon Coach”, JB spearheaded efforts at his church to install a solar power electric production system. Working with other volunteers he constructed an organic vegetable garden that provided produce for the parish’s food ministry. He established systems for composting yard and food waste. His church received a national award as the “Most Sustainable Church” in 2017.

On the Diocesan level JB worked with the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Washington to establish a carbon offset partnership with a diocese in the Philippines. Over the next 8 years, Filipino church members, most of them farmers, planted tens of thousands of trees to reforest vast areas of the southern Philippines sequestering many thousands of tons of carbon. In the process those farmers have been transforming their agricultural practices from one based on annual cash crops needing chemical fertilizer, to perennial agroforestry requiring no chemical inputs.