The World Food Prize Foundation

The World Food Prize Celebrates 20 Years of its International Internship Program and Selects 24 Students


The World Food Prize Foundation announced today that it will send 24 high school students abroad for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program at renowned international research centers and NGOs this summer. The students hail from Iowa and twelve other states and will delve into issues related to global hunger and poverty during eight-week internships in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of this unique program, which was created by Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan, Sr. in 1998, allowing high-school-aged 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.

“As an intern at Professor Swaminathan’s foundation in Chennai, I awoke every day thrilled to go into the field and work with small holder farmers of the Kolli Hills,” said Nicholas Grandstaff a Borlaug-Ruan International Intern. “In each of those farmer’s eyes, I saw a spark of Borlaug.  I could see farmers who were committed to improving their sphere of influence. The experiences I have had with the World Food Prize have changed my life in more ways than I can begin to describe.  I am inspired every day by the work of past laureates, my fellow Borlaug-Ruan Interns, World Food Prize staff, and the eager students aspiring to do their part in facing the world’s greatest challenge.”

The program has grown significantly over the past 20 years, initially sending just two students overseas the first year. At the culmination of the twentieth year, 322 young aspiring scientists will have participated in the internship that has created a significant impact on their education and career choices.

“This is one the most unique and innovative programs in the United States,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program seeks to inspire high school students to education and careers in science in order to confront and eliminate food insecurity. Norman Borlaug told us that the great challenge of the 21st century is whether or not we can eradicate hunger, poverty, and malnutrition, and meet what is the greatest challenge human beings have ever faced: are we going to be able to sustainably and nutritiously feed the over 9 billion people who will be on our planet? It will be up to you – Borlaug-Ruan Interns – and your generation to decide whether we meet this challenge or not.”

Dr. Borlaug and John Ruan Sr. believed that by engaging young students in actual hunger-fighting research through the World Food Prize youth education programs, they would be inspiring them to pursue academic and career paths in agricultural science, food technology and natural resource conservation.

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.

A prerequisite for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship is attending the three-day World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, which occurs each October. Youth Institute participants present research papers and interact with World Food Prize Laureates and renowned experts to discuss issues relating to food security throughout the world. 

For more information on the Borlaug-Ruan Internship and 2018 Interns please visit:

“The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship reinforced the idea that food security is much more complex than it seems,” said Akriti Bhattarai, a Borlaug-Ruan Intern at the International Maize & Wheat Improvement Center in El Batán, Mexico. “The more I learned about micronutrient deficiencies and biofortification for my research project, the more interested I became in this issue. My work as a summer intern has solidified my resolve and commitment to combating food insecurity and given me the practical experience that will guide me on my career path to agricultural research.”

To view a list of the internship sites please click HERE.

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 and Latin America. Finally, students who participate in the World Food Prize youth programs are also eligible to apply for Wallace-Carver Fellowship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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