The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute Reaches Record Participation 



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World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute Reaches Record Participation 

The STEM program hosted over 1000 students in the last five years, and continues reaching and inspiring students across Iowa to fight hunger in their hometowns and to explore STEM career paths. Students participated in engaging activities and interacted with Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Congressman David Young, Iowa State University President Steven Leath and over 100 Iowa leaders and experts. 

(Des Moines, Iowa) April 28, 2015 – Last Monday, the fifth anniversary of the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute brought together nearly 300 students from 130 high schools to Iowa State University to explore critical global food security issues and discover academic and career paths in STEM fields. The Iowa Youth Institute has reached over 58 percent of Iowa schools since its inception in 2011, and has been referred to as the most significant event to inspire Iowa high school students to focus on the global issues in STEM.

Governor Terry Branstad, as the keynote speaker, spoke to the students about Norman Borlaug’s dream of feeding the world through small collective efforts. “My hope is that, being here today…will inspire you in all of your lifelong efforts, and fill you with Borlaug-like determination to overcome all obstacles and succeed in all that you do.”

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds emphasized the importance of STEM education and challenged all Iowa high schools to join the Iowa Youth Institute in 2017. “We need to have the most well educated generation in the history of our state,” Reynolds said. “We [were] so impressed with these World Food Prize programs that we recommended them as a model to be emulated on a national basis.”

The President of Iowa State University, Dr. Steven Leath expressed his hope that the high school students would be inspired by the leaders and educators participating in the Iowa Youth Institute to join the mission to make a difference in the world and feed the 9 billion on our planet by 2050. “Not only do we need to be able to produce enough food, feed, fiber, and fuel to meet the needs of all of these people,” Leath said, “we need to produce it in an environmentally sustainable and secure way, and we need to ensure the population has proper access to high-quality food.”

Other speakers at the event included DuPont Pioneer Director of Regulatory Strategy & Industry Relations Dr. Kevin Diehl, and Nora Tobin, Executive Director of Self-Help International. Joining these two leaders were World Food Prize Youth Program alumni, who encouraged the students to continue the global fight against hunger.

The event included over 75 industry professionals and business leaders who served as roundtable discussion experts and special guests during the student networking luncheon. Honored guests at the event included Congressman David Young, Mrs. Janet Leath and Mrs. Claudia Schickler - co-founder of the Iowa Youth Institute with her husband and DuPont Pioneer President Paul Schickler. Students were able to network with and learn from these professionals during the luncheon.

Dr. Norman Borlaug, Iowa’s great hero whose statue is now ensconced in the U.S. Capitol for his exceptional agricultural and humanitarian achievements, founded the World Food Prize and also envisioned the World Food Prize Youth Programs as the way to inspire the next generation of scientists and humanitarians to pursue education and careers in critical global food security fields.

“Norman Borlaug and John Ruan Sr. started the World Food Prize Youth Programs to inspire the next generation to become involved in our food system, and to have that spark of curiosity that will compel them to confront the greatest challenge in human history: whether we can sustainably and nutritiously feed the more than 9 billion people who will be on our planet by 2050,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of The World Food Prize Foundation.

The Iowa Youth Institute connects students interested in science, agriculture and related fields with Iowa leaders and innovators. Each participating high school student has written a research paper on a key issue - such as environmental volatility, nutrition, water scarcity or gender inequality - that impacts hunger in a developing country.

Sophomore Olivia Tidwell from East High School of the Sioux City Community School District said, “Being a part of the World Food Prize helped me realize that agriculture is so much more than farms; it’s learning how to feed the world.”

During the event, the students proposed their solutions in small-group roundtable discussions facilitated by academic and industry experts. Students also engaged in interactive immersion sessions, which cover topics of plant genetics, human nutrition, food insecurity in Iowa, sustainability, and the environment.

Oelwein High School senior Tony Rau said that his experience at the Institute opened his eyes to the issues around world hunger. He said, “The other students in my roundtable pointed out a lot of different solutions, and I realized that there is not a single solution to all the problems, but many small things that need to be done by everybody.”

The impact of this event lasts beyond the afternoon: 92 percent of students that participate in the World Food Prize Youth Programs went on to pursue college degrees in science and agriculture, while 77 percent of students chose a career field related to agriculture, food, science, or food security.

“For students who attended the institute, this is one of their first experiences facing food security issues. The Iowa Youth Institute combines the students’ passion for service with their interest in STEM, leaving a lasting impression on how they can make a positive difference in the lives of others in their future careers,” said Jacob Hunter, Director of Iowa Education at the World Food Prize.

“The Iowa Youth Institute is the foremost leading program for students to learn about food security issues from around the world without leaving the state,” said Bridget Mahoney, educator from Lone Tree high school. “The IYI provided my students an opportunity to collaborate with world-class experts and learn from their peers.”

More information is available at Photos are available at and high resolution photos are available upon request.

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.

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