The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Hosts Record Number of Iowa High Schools at its Iowa Youth Institute at Iowa State University


Since the inception of the program, the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute has engaged over 1,000 students from more than 225 schools across Iowa and continues reaching and inspiring students across our state to fight hunger at home and abroad and to explore STEM career paths. Students were immersed into the world food insecurity and interacted with Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Acting Chief Scientist & REE Deputy Under Secretary of USDA, world-renowned faculty experts and business leaders.

Today, the seventh annual World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute brought together 309 students from 135 high schools at Iowa State University to explore critical global food security issues and discover academic and career paths in STEM fields.

“I recall being here on campus for the first Iowa Youth Institute in 2012 when it was held in the Memorial Union,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds during the Youth Institute, “The fact that today we are only able to accommodate all of the students and teachers here on the floor of Hilton Coliseum is a testament to the vision of the World Food Prize leadership, and the hard work of everyone who has been involved, including the faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Your dedication and investment in the young leaders who are here today is remarkable and we are so fortunate to have leaders who value the talents and ideas of our students.”

The Iowa Youth Institute has now reached over 64 percent of all Iowa high schools since its inauguration in 2011, and has been referred to as the most unique and innovative event to inspire Iowa high school students to focus on global issues and opportunities in STEM. This innovative experience encourages students to explore academic and career paths in fields related to STEM, food security, agriculture and global development and aims to inspire the next generation of leaders through research presentations and networking with global experts.

“IYI is one of the best experiences for students,” said Casey Dunley, an educator from Des Moines Roosevelt. “From researching real world issues, to generating viable solutions, to creating the paper based on the new learning, to today’s event; this is a wonderful opportunity to show students that they have the power to have an impact on the future.” 

Interested students select a developing country and write an essay about a key factor affecting its food security. The paper should explain typical living conditions, the selected factor and potential solutions. Students will present their ideas at the Iowa Youth Institute, participate in interactive activities in labs and classrooms on campus, and interact with innovative professors and business leaders from across the state. All participants are eligible to earn a $500 scholarship to Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as opportunities for prestigious international internships through the World Food Prize.

Since 2012, Iowa State University has awarded over $250,000 to students participating in World Food Prize programming, ensuring that young leaders have access to a high-quality education, professional mentors, and are prepared to tackle our world’s toughest issues in hunger and poverty.  The top Iowa participants will also be selected to join scientists and policy experts from around the world at the three-day World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in October.

“I commend you for being here, for embracing the desire to improve the global food supply, and for wanting to take action on behalf of people you might never know,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator and Acting Deputy Under Secretary REE, USDA during her morning keynote presentation. “You, as a generation, are important to USDA, because you will be the consumers, the employees, and the leaders of our future. Your efforts can make the difference.”

In 2017, The Iowa Youth Institute had a record participation of 310 high school students in more than 134 schools, and aims to eventually reach every school in Iowa to meaningfully engage students interested in these careers. This one-day event is offered at no cost to teachers or students. More details are available at

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Nicole Barreca, Director of Communications and Events
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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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