The World Food Prize Foundation

The World Food Prize Celebrates 21 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.

These exceptional students hail from Iowa and nine other states and will delve into issues related to global hunger and poverty during eight-week internships in Africa, Asia and Latin America. You can follow the students’ summer internships through the Borlaug-Ruan International Intern blog at

This is the 21st year 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.

“My experience as a Borlaug-Ruan Intern has been one of the best experiences of my life,” said 2012 Borlaug-Ruan International Intern Jessica Blosberg. “Six years later, I am still being impacted by what I learned, who I connected with, and how I look at the world.”

The program has grown significantly over the past 21 years, initially sending just two students overseas the first year. At the culmination of the 21st year, 346 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 could inspire 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 women’s self-help; 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 2019 Interns please visit:

“Food accessibility is a human right and sustainability is a way of life that has been lost, but is being refound,” said Priscilla Trinh, 2019 Borlaug-Ruan International Intern. “As I engage with the international community as a Borlaug-Ruan Intern, I hope to expand my thought processes in a more intersectional and reflexive direction. This is a wonderful opportunity to question what the green movement needs to be, and how one aspect (food systems) can be adapted to face today's and future challenges.”

2019 Borlaug-Ruan International Interns

  1. Gautham Ajith | West Des Moines, IA | The S.M Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon, India

  2. Nia Baker | Andover, MN | Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), Londrina, Brazil

  3. James Fairchild | Bridgehampton, NY | The WorldFish Center, Penang, Malaysia

  4. Halee Fisher | Millersburg, IN | International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), El Batán, Mexico

  5. Ava Forystek | Columbus, OH | Peking University, Beijing, China

  6. Donald Gee | Johnston, IA | The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal

  7. Morgan Hasler | Lexington, KY | International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi, Kenya

  8. Wyatt Hellman | Fort Madison, IA | China National Hybrid Rice Research & Development Center (CNHRRDC), Changsha, China

  9. Caleb Lines | Nashua, IA | The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Tainan, Taiwan

  10. Nolan Monaghan | Manchester, IA | China Agricultural University (CAU), Beijing, China

  11. Stefany Naranjo | Belmond, IA | International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Peru

  12. Abigail Overstrom | Lansing, NY | International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), El Batán, Mexico

  13. Renee Piekema | Milo, IA | International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi, Kenya

  14. Andie Pinga | South Burlington, VT | M.S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, India

  15. Raena Prude | Stockbridge, GA | International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya

  16. Sibani Ram | Dubuque, IA | EARTH University, San Jose, Costa Rica

  17. Lydia Rigge | Belview, MN | Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company Limited (Mahyco), Jalna, India

  18. Sandy Shen | Solon, OH | International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India

  19. Derek Sherrange | Argyle, NY |  The S.M Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon, India,

  20. Holly Sims | Tallahassee, FL | Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), Beijing, China

  21. Emma Steely | Catawissa, PA | EARTH University, San Jose, Costa Rica

  22. Shaleen Thiengmany | Mount Pleasant, IA | The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Patancheru, India

  23. Priscilla Trinh | Eden Prairie, MN | International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Baños, Philippines

  24. Jacob Turko | Kempton, PA | International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya

To view a list of the internship sites please visit

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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