The World Food Prize Foundation

World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute Reaches a Record Number of Iowa High Schools


Since the inception of the program in 2012, the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute has engaged 71 percent of  all Iowa high schools. Over 2,000 students from more than 275 schools across the state have participated in the Youth Institute.

Today, the eighth annual World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute brought together 304 students from 130 high schools at Iowa State University to explore critical global food security issues and discover academic and career paths in STEM fields.

The Iowa Youth Institute has hosted participants from over 71 percent of Iowa high schools since its inaugural event in 2012 and has been referred to as the most unique and innovative event that inspires Iowa high school students to become global leaders. 

“In gathering here for this event, I know that Dr. Norman Borlaug would want you to focus on the important mission of eliminating hunger around the world. It was that objective that motivated him every day of his life. It was that mission that took him from his boyhood farm in Northeast Iowa to Mexico, India, Pakistan, China, Africa, and all around the world,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. “My hope for all of you is that, having been here today, you will carry with you a part of Dr. Borlaug’s legacy and that as a member of the next generation of young Iowans, you will commit yourself to continue your education, build your careers, and conduct your lives focused on that goal, that unites us all and makes us so very proud to be Iowans: using the power of science and STEM to feed the world.”

This innovative experience encourages students to explore academic and career paths in fields related to STEM, agriculture and global development and aims to inspire the next generation of leaders through authentic research presentations and networking opportunities with global experts.

“The Iowa Youth Institute showed me the power of agriculture in an unparalleled way. It's opened my eyes to new career opportunities that I never would have considered prior to attending this event,” said Sibani Ram, a student at Western Dubuque High School. The Iowa Youth Institute is known for exposing young leaders to real-world opportunities that allow them to become part of a larger strategic plan to end hunger and poverty on a global scale.  

To participate, students identify a challenge affecting food security within a specified country and propose their own solution to address the challenge. Students then present their ideas to a roundtable of peers and experts at the Iowa Youth Institute, participate in interactive activities in labs and classrooms on campus, and connect with innovative leaders from across the state. All students who participate automatically receive a $500 scholarship to Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and are eligible to apply for the prestigious Wallace-Carver Fellowship program in partnership with the USDA. 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.

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. 

“For you students who are 18 years old today, when Iowa celebrates its bicentennial in 2046 and you will be celebrating your 45th birthday, the population of our planet will have just reached 9 billion people,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. “Whether we can nutritiously and sustainably feed all of those people is the single greatest challenge human beings have ever faced. It will be up to you to fulfill Norman Borlaug’s legacy and meet this challenge.”

In 2018, the Iowa Youth Institute hosted a record participation of 309 students from 134 schools and aims to reach every school in Iowa to encourage students to pursue hunger-fighting career paths in science, technology, and policy. This one-day event is offered at no cost to teachers or students. More details are available at

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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