The World Food Prize Foundation

First Annual World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute Draws Over 300 People


Iowa High School Students Get Inside Look at Global Careers in Science

Ames, Iowa (April 30, 2012) – The World Food Prize today connected the next generation of Iowa scientists, humanitarians and business executives with current leaders in these fields during a truly unique program: the first annual World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute. Over 250 high school students and teachers from across the state gathered on the Iowa State University campus for a day of events focused on inspiring youth to pursue educational and career opportunities in science, agriculture, engineering and other areas on a global level.

The day was filled with interactive workshops. Students discussed their own solutions for global problems such as water scarcity and climate change in countries ranging from Kenya to Bangladesh, and how to feed 9 billion global citizens by the year 2050. They also discovered how their interests, whether in science or the humanities, intersect with current research endeavors and ongoing efforts to solve global challenges through tours of labs and interactive activities with faculty.

Governor Terry Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa State University President Steven Leath, and World Food Prize President Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn all spoke at the event, which was made possible by generous support from Paul and Claudia Schickler, who also addressed the students.

“The World Food Prize is among my favorite ‘extra’ activities for my students,” said Gail Kunch, an AP Environmental Science teacher from Holy Trinity Catholic School in Fort Madison. “This program introduces students to broader subject areas and allows them to use their critical thinking skills to understand global issues and begin to make assessments on how they can solve world problems. The World Food Prize fits into all areas of my curricula and exemplifies and enhances my teaching of 21st Century Skills and Iowa Core.” 

Student Hannah Pagel, a junior from Sumner-Fredericksburg High School, said she got involved and wrote the required five-page research paper because she wants to help others and find careers that will help her do that.

“I decided to participate in the Iowa Youth Institute because I have always been interested in agriculture and how it impacts my life and others around me,” Hannah said. “This program is very unique because it is designed to have teenagers like myself be educated about global issues. I learned a lot through my research of Ghana. Allowing youth to participate in these events will allow a different perspective to help stop world hunger. I also will be able to connect with professionals in the agriculture industry, such as leaders in agriculture and professors.”

Gov. Terry Branstad had lunch with students and addressed them during a keynote. “The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute is exactly the kind of innovative program we need in Iowa to help young people explore the wonderful career opportunities we have available right here at home, which can have a worldwide impact,” Branstad said.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds added, “Listening to these very bright young students talk about these complex issues so eloquently is impressive, and this program truly shows what can happen when the private, public and nonprofit sectors come together around education.”

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, explained that the primary goal of the event is to get students excited about the huge variety of career paths available to them, and to show them how they can make a difference in the world. “The goal of this program is to inspire the next generation of scientific and humanitarian heroes to help solve global issues, just like our Iowa hero Dr. Norman Borlaug did,” Quinn said.

Steven Leath, the new president of Iowa State University, hosted the daylong event. “Iowa State has enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the World Food Prize for over two decades, and this institute involving Iowa youth is one of the most important things we’ve done together,” Leath said. “Our young people have a critical role to play in meeting the world’s food challenges, and we want them to be exposed to the many different careers options available.”

“Engaging the next generation of leaders is critical to bringing new ideas and solutions to solving global food security issues,” said Paul Schickler, whose financial contribution helped make the Iowa Youth Institute possible. “Programs like the World Food Prize Youth Institute support youth in achieving their vision for the future of agriculture by providing unique experiences and supporting teachers. Claudia and I are confident that what we see and hear today from the students is just a first glimpse of what they will accomplish in the future.”

More information is available online at Members of the press can also contact Megan Forgrave, Director of Communications, at 515-245-3794 or


The World Food Prize holds statewide youth institutes in several states. 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, which last year drew 1,400 people from 75 countries, and the Laureate Award Ceremony. They interact with experts, participate in hunger relief programs and activities, and present their research findings to peers and global leaders.

Over 20 students each year are accepted 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 the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


The World Food 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 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. The World Food Prize Foundation is based in Des Moines, Iowa, in the United States.

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