The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute Receives Governor’s STEM Council Seal of Approval


The World Food Prize announced today that the Iowa Youth Institute (IYI) has been awarded the Governor’s STEM Council Seal of Approval, an endorsement that recognizes and supports Iowa programs that both encourage interest and celebrate student achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute recruits high school students from across the state to share their own unique ideas to address critical issues in hunger and poverty while also developing skills that prepare them for 21st century careers. The approach centers on inquiry-based learning as each student is tasked with identifying a challenge related to global food security and researching scientific solutions that can sustainably address the problem. Students then present their proposed solutions to a panel of experienced faculty and industry experts at the one day event, held each Spring on the campus of Iowa State University.

“We are immensely proud to receive this significant recognition of our efforts to infuse a passion in Iowa students to confront hunger and malnutrition through the study of STEM subjects,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “The endorsement of  the Iowa Youth Institute, which has reached into 64 percent of Iowa high schools, reflects the vision Norman Borlaug and John Ruan had when they held the first Youth Institute with only 14 Iowa students in 1994.”

This year, the Iowa Youth Institute hosted a record number of participants: 306 high school students and 139 teachers traveling from 134 Iowa high schools. Each student who participates in the day-long event is automatically awarded a $500 scholarship to Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students are also eligible to move on to the Global Youth Institute and present their solutions to world-renowned experts in science and industry and learn how credible research can shape policies and decisions that affect the global economy.

“I recall being here on campus for the first Iowa Youth Institute in 2012 when it was held in the Memorial Union,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said during her luncheon address this past April. “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 STEM Advisory Council aims to increase Iowa students’ interest and achievement in STEM fields to prepare them for career paths in economically vital fields like agriculture, health, finance, information technology, advanced manufacturing and more.

Similarly, World Food Prize founder and humanitarian hero Dr. Norman Borlaug envisioned the Foundation’s youth programs as a way to inspire the next generation of scientists, policy makers, educators and community leaders to pursue careers fighting hunger and poverty.

Kelsey Tyrrell, Director of Youth Leadership Development at the World Food Prize, emphasized the multidisciplinary nature of the Iowa Youth Institute and its STEM promotion.

"What I appreciate most about the institute is that every student has the opportunity to apply their own unique talents to addressing food insecurity,” Ms. Tyrrell said. “From education to engineering, it will take a multitude of professions working together to feed 9 billion people by 2050, and we need to ensure the fresh, innovative ideas of young adults are heard."

More information about the Iowa Youth Institute is available at

In the last six years, this innovative STEM program has engaged over 1,200 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 participated in engaging, hands-on activities and interact with state leaders, Iowa State faculty, and industry experts.

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 48 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.

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