Iowa this week is hosting 160 extraordinary high school students from 24 U.S. states and territories, as well as Canada, China, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco and Nigeria. They are delegates to the 20th Anniversary Global Youth Institute. The annual event, sponsored by the World Food Prize, is taking place Oct. 16-18 in Des Moines. The students will interact with World Food Prize Laureates and the 1,500 global leaders and experts from over 65 countries attending the World Food Prize's annual Borlaug Dialogue international symposium.
Event has grown to be a very successful youth program
The Global Youth Institute was started by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Norman Borlaug, who was raised on a farm at Cresco in northeast Iowa. Borlaug went on to become a plant scientist and is well-known as the Father of the Green Revolution, mainly for his success in breeding higher yielding, disease-resistant varieties of wheat. He died in 2009 at the age of 95. This year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of his birth and is being celebrated by the World Food Prize Foundation as the Borlaug Centennial.
The Global Youth Institute has grown each year and is now known as one of the most unique and successful youth programs in the country. Of the students who complete the program 92% go on to pursue college degrees in agriculture and science and 77% go on to careers in agriculture, STEM and other fields critical to fight against hunger. Further, the youth institute boasts a staggering two-thirds participation of young women.
Students from across the U.S. and abroad who attend this event have had to research and ponder the critical aspects of global food security in developing countries. They then write a paper explaining their solutions and ideas. Each year the World Food Prize symposium has a different theme. And the students' research paper has to be centered on that theme. This year's theme is: "The Greatest Challenge in Human History: Can We Sustainably Feed the 9 Billion People on our Planet by the Year 2050?"
Students get to discuss their ideas and findings with experts
The research papers are reviewed by a committee at the World Food Prize Foundation, headquartered in Des Moines. There are also other criteria for selection to attend the Global Youth Institute. At the end of this process, the top students in each state and country are invited to attend the three-day World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in October, where they interact with, present, and discuss their research findings with a diverse group of internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates, heads of state, government leaders, dignitaries, business executives, and experts in food, agriculture and international development.
"The Global Youth Institute inspired me to pursue a career in agriculture and international development to improve the lives of small holder farmers around the world. Conversing with the Laureates, experts and scientists and hearing about their journeys convinced me that I too could follow in the footsteps of Norman Borlaug to solve global food security issues."—2011 GYI participant, Mikayla Sullivan
In addition, the students attending the Global Youth Institute in Des Moines also participate in a hands-on service project. They package meals with Outreach Inc., a hunger-fighting organization that serves people in Iowa and abroad. The students also get to tour cutting-edge industrial and agricultural research facilities, and take part in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet that demonstrates the realities of global hunger and poverty.
Unique opportunities to learn more about agriculture's role
The students also listen to past international Borlaug-Ruan Interns present their research and experiences; attend a luncheon with this year's World Food Prize laureate and get to see a private viewing of the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony, which takes place in the Iowa State Capitol. This year's award winner is Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, winning the prestigious prize for his scientific research that led to a prodigious increase in global wheat production, providing more nutritious food around the world and significantly helping to alleviate world hunger.
This year's Global Youth Institute will take place on Thursday, October 16 and Friday October 17 at the downtown Des Moines Marriott hotel and Saturday, October 18 at DuPont Pioneer headquarters in Johnston, Iowa. For a complete schedule of the Borlaug Dialogue, you can visit www.worldfoodprize.org/agenda. For more information about The World Food Prize Global Youth Institute visit www.worldfoodprize.org/youth.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE YOUTH PROGRAMS: In 2014, a total of 1,500 high school students participated in statewide WFP Youth Institutes held in 13 states. These are hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation, several Land-Grant Universities and a number of local partners in those states. By participating in the World Food Prize youth programs, students are eligible to apply for various scholarships, as well as the Borlaug-Ruan International Internships at top ag research facilities around the world, and the annual Wallace-Carver fellowships with USDA.
BACKGROUND: The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug in order to recognize great achievements in improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. The Global Youth Institute began in 1994 with 13 students from Iowa with the goal to educate and inspire the next generation of young scientific and humanitarian leaders in the fight to end hunger. Since 1994 over 1,500 students from 39 states and territories and 25 countries have been selected to participate in the WFP Global Youth Institute.
Teachers also can attend and learn with their students
Teachers of the 160 students at this year's Global Youth Institute can also attend. On Friday night October 17 a total of 300 students and teachers, from Iowa and across the country, will participate in the annual Hunger Banquet. That's where the meal they are served depends on what lot in life they draw on a ticket mirroring the demographic makeup of the world. On Saturday the 160 students will interact with global experts and present their original research and posters during the 20th Anniversary Global Youth Institute, which was originally started by Norman Borlaug and John Ruan, Sr.
The national STEM Food and Ag Committee recently announced it is promoting the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute as a national model for STEM education. "This year, the 160 students from 24 states and 7 countries who were selected to present their solutions on the critical aspects of food security have a truly unique opportunity to interact with and learn from the experts and global leaders," says Libby Crimmings, director of national education programs for the World Food Prize Foundation. "Also, at this year's event, several national leaders and CEOs will announce major investments in youth leadership programs and opportunities."