Garst Seed Company recently gave tours of its headquarters in Slater, Iowa, to 77 high school students who participated in the 2006 World Food Prize Youth Institute. High school students from across Iowa, as well as several from Brazil, India and Nigeria, participated in the three-day educational forum held in Des Moines in mid-October.
The Youth Institute also hosted several student and teacher teams representing Delaware, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Youth Institute is expanding in number of participants and in geographical reach. No longer are the students who attend only from Iowa high schools. Other states and countries are now represented.
Students learn about agriculture
The goal of the Youth Institute is to increase student awareness of The World Food Prize mission among Iowa youth. During the event, students meet with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug and other World Food Prize Laureates for three days of dialogue, presentations and interaction. Students also attend an Oxfam Hunger Banquet and a Civic Leadership session that inspires students to make a difference in their own communities.
The three-day event provides young Iowans with opportunities to explore careers in food, agriculture and natural resources disciplines. This year's theme was "Looking Ahead: Sustainable Paths toward Food and Nutrition Security." Students participating in the Youth Institute visited Garst to learn more about a company involved in agriculture.
Focus on feeding a hungry world
"This was an extraordinary group of students who were undoubtedly interested in agriculture and the challenge of providing food for this nation and to the rest of the world," says Lori Thomas, communications manager for Garst. "The interest and questions we received regarding Garst's breeding program and the entire seed industry's focus on trait development were impressive."
The tour at Garst highlighted work the seed company is conducting in several key areas — research, plant breeding and equipment engineering. Garst brand headquarters is one of three corn mega-breeding sites for Syngenta. The group heard about trait conversion and product development work, including nearly $1 million in recent capital investments to support product development efforts in Slater. In research, participants learned about the company's $2-million-per-day investment in research and the company's molecular marker efforts.
"Garst believes the day was a tremendous success," adds Thomas. "We were able to share with these future leaders in agriculture and food production the efforts that the industry is making to feed the world."
Do you know someone who is interested?
Each high school student who participated in the Youth Institute either wrote or was part of a team of fellow high schools students who prepared a discussion paper on the chosen theme. The student and a faculty member from that high school presented the discussion paper during a day-long seminar before a panel of World Food Prize Council of Advisers and Laureates — individuals who are acknowledged leaders in a broad range of food and agricultural disciplines.
For information about how your son, daughter, grandchild or any high school age youth interested in food production and agriculture can attend the World Food Prize Institute in 2007, visit www.worldfoodprize.org.