Monday, April 24, 2023

Local Food Economics Data Visualization Challenge

Practice your coding and data visualization skills, build your network, connect with mentors, learn about USDA AMS’ new local food system data tools, and receive travel support to attend the AAEA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC!

Generously sponsored by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and co-organized by the AAEA Graduate Student Section (GSS) and AMS, this AAEA competition will challenge graduate student teams of three from around the US to develop a novel data visualization and analysis that responds to competition prompts using the new Local Food Data Warehouse and FAME tools developed by a team of researchers from Colorado State University, the University of Kentucky, and the USDA AMS, as well as many representatives from local and regional food system nonprofits. USDA AMS funds will provide travel support for student teams to attend the AAEA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC and cash awards for winning teams.

Who’s eligible to participate?

-          Students enrolled in a Master’s or PhD program in applied economics or a related field in the United States during the 2022-2023 academic year who…

o   Have interest and/or experience in coding and data visualization (specific software program doesn’t matter, but please note no coding or data visualization training will be provided as part of this program).

o   Have interest and/or experience related to local food system economics.

-          Graduate students from minority serving institutions are encouraged to apply.

How will the competition be structured?

-          Students can apply either as an individual or as a team of up to three students. Individuals will be assigned to a team and those applying as a pair will have a third person added to complete the team.

o   Please note that teams can include students from different universities.

-          Teams will be assigned two mentors—one faculty advisor and one AMS staff member.

What’s expected of participants?

-          Attend one 60-90-minute competition kick-off webinar in early June (date/time TBD) to become oriented to FAME and the Data Warehouse, hear the competition prompts, and meet with your team and mentors.

-          Work in person (if at same school/in same location) or virtually with your team in June and July 2023 to develop your data visualization and analysis based on the prompts provided at the kick-off webinar.

-          Meet with your team and mentors 2-3 times over Zoom during June and July 2023 to discuss ideas, get feedback, and ask questions – your group can determine the meeting times that best fit your schedule.

-          Present your data visualization and analysis to competition judges at the AAEA Annual Meeting on Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Washington, DC.

What are the benefit to participants?

-          Winners will receive a cash prize and plaque and be recognized during the Awards Ceremony at the AAEA Annual Meeting.

o   $1,000 for 1st place team, $500 for 2nd place team, and $200 for 3rd place team.

-          Participating graduate students will receive full or partial travel support to attend the 2023 AAEA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC based on need.

-          Network with fellow graduate students, faculty experts in local food systems, and USDA AMS staff members

-          Develop or practice your data visualization and coding skills

-          Build familiarity with AMS’ new local food tools for your own future use

-          Receive recognition on the AAEA and AMS websites, where competition visualizations will be featured + shared!

To register, please complete this brief form at your earliest convenience, and no later than Monday, May 15: Link to form

If registering as a team, each individual team member must register separately.

Questions can be directed to AAEA Mentorship Committee Chair and AAEA GSS Faculty Advisor Dr. Zoë Plakias (

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