The World Food Prize Foundation, based in Des Moines, Iowa, announced on May 7 that it will send a record 24 high school students abroad for internships at renowned international research centers and NGOs (non-government agencies) this summer. The students hail from Iowa and 12 other states and will delve into issues relating to hunger and poverty during eight-week, all-expense-paid internships in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The program, which was created by Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan, Sr. in 1998, seeks to inspire the next generation of agricultural scientists and to expose them to the wide array of fields related to global food security. The program has grown significantly over the past 18 years, initially sending just two students overseas the first year. Over the years, 250 young people have participated in the internship with significant impact on their educational and career choices.
This internship is a life-changing experience for young people
For example, 2015 Borlaug Ruan-Intern Trevor Clemens from What Cheer, Iowa, spent his eight-week experience at the International Livestock Research Institute in Ethiopia. “The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship Program is a program that has changed my life, and inspired me to be the person I am today by developing my passion for agricultural industries and development,” Clemens says. “My experiences in Ethiopia have left me with the utmost inspiration for many, and have helped me to see the world in a new perspective."
During the orientation for the 2016 interns this past weekend World Food Prize president, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, spoke to the interns and expressed the importance of today’s generation in the fight against world hunger.
Norman Borlaug founded program to engage young people
“It was our World Food Prize founder, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's most ardent hope that by engaging young people in actual hunger-fighting research, they will be inspired to pursue academic and career paths in science, food, agricultural and natural resource disciplines, and thus be prepared to become tomorrow’s innovative scientific and humanitarian leaders,” Quinn says.
“Nearly 1 billion people go hungry every day. As the world faces a growing population, climate volatility and other global challenges, the next generation will be charged with continuing the battle against hunger and finding new solutions to feed the world.”
Get first-hand view of real and pressing food and ag issues
The Borlaug-Ruan Internship is a unique program that allows student interns to participate in projects with distinguished researchers at leading agricultural research centers around the globe. While getting a firsthand view of real and pressing food security issues and nutrition problems in poverty-stricken areas, the students become an integral part of a project, spending time in the lab as well as days or weeks at a time in the field conducting research and interviews, and gathering data.
The interns are involved in a myriad of global projects dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger such as: fisheries and aquaculture studies; plant biotechnology research; micro-credit and the women’s self-help concept; the influence of education on household food security; livestock value chains; and the calculation of Vitamin C concentration in numerous potato varieties.
Gain valuable life skills along with knowledge and information
A prerequisite for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship is attending the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, which occurs each October and exposes students to opportunities associated with careers in agricultural, natural resource, life sciences and affiliated fields. Youth Institute participants present research papers and interact with World Food Prize Laureates and renowned experts to discuss issues relating to food security throughout the world.
A list of the 24 Borlaug-Ruan International Interns, including photos, can be found online at: worldfoodprize.org/2016interns.
“The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship provided me not only with technical knowledge, but I also gained valuable life skills of independence and determination,” says Paige Meyers, 2015 Borlaug-Ruan intern from Boone, Iowa. “During my summer at BRAC in Bangladesh I made countless connections and memories that I'll have for a lifetime. Thanks to the World Food Prize, I have a much better idea of how I will make a contribution to improving food security in the world.”
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE: The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored 41 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE YOUTH PROGRAMS: The World Food Prize holds statewide youth institutes in several states to inspire young people to continue the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug and fight hunger by pursuing educational and career paths in global agriculture; the goal is to eventually have every school in our home state of Iowa participate. The top students each year and others from around the country are invited to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in October, where they participate in other World Food Prize events such as the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and the Laureate Award Ceremony. There, youth interact with experts, participate in hunger relief programs and activities, and present their research findings to peers and global leaders. Over 20 students from the programs each year are then selected as Borlaug-Ruan International Interns, and are sent on all-expenses-paid, eight-week internships at research centers in Asia, Africa, Latin American and the Middle East. Finally, students who participate in the World Food Prize youth programs are also eligible to apply for Wallace-Carver internships with USDA.