The World Food Prize Foundation

The World Food Prize Honors Four Students with its Prestigious Internship Award


The World Food Prize Honors Four Students with its Prestigious Internship Award
Students from Iowa, Michigan, California and Connecticut accepted the 2017 John Chrystal and Elaine Szymoniak Awards

Des Moines, Iowa (October 20, 2017) – The World Food Prize Foundation announced the recipients of the 2017 John Chrystal and Elaine Szymoniak Awards at the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate Ceremony at the Iowa State Capital in Des Moines.

The recipients of the awards are Francine Barchett, Nicholas Grandstaff, Akriti Bhattaria and Madeline Song.  All four are students who were a part of the 2016 Borlaug-Ruan Internship Program.

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 19 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.

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.  

Barchett and Grandstaff were awarded the 2017 John Chrystal Award for their work in India.

The John Chrystal Award was established in 2001 in the spirit of John Chrystal's commitment to enriching Iowa's relationship with the world and his belief that everyone is entitled to a sense of dignity and adequate food. The award is presented annually to the intern who most strongly reflects Mr. Chrystal’s commitment.

Bhattaria and Song were awarded the 2017 Elaine Szymoniak Intern Award for their work in Mexico and India.

The Elaine Szymoniak Intern Award was created in 2010 and is named in honor of the Iowa State Senator, Des Moines City Council Member and hearing and speech specialist known for her dedicated public service and great efforts to save the World Food Prize. This award is presented annually to a Borlaug-Ruan International Intern whose fulfillment of his or her research program at an international research center best exemplifies Senator Szymoniak's commitment to meet the needs of the community and dedicated efforts to promote education, health, economic development, equality and justice.

“Being a Borlaug-Ruan International Intern was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had,” said Bhattaria, recipient of the Szymoniak Award. “My goal was to do the best that I could as an intern, and use the skills and knowledge I gained to continue understanding and finding solutions to food insecurity. I learned not only from scientists and global leaders but also from other students at GYI and my fellow Interns and their wonderful research projects. I am very grateful for the opportunities the World Food Prize Foundation has offered me and for everyone who works tirelessly to provide students like me with invaluable experiences.”

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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 46 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 the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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