A Week With Ambassador Kenneth Quinn and the Lessons that I Learned While Being a Part of the World Food Prize Foundation's Week of Events
My name is Lainey Bourgeois, and I am a first semester student in the Masters of Agribusiness Program at Texas A&M University. This past October, I had the unique opportunity to attend the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be the handler for the President of the World Food Prize, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn. This one of a kind position allowed me the responsibility to work behind the scenes at the 2017 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, as well as work first hand with all of the staff, interns and volunteers at the Foundation.
I expected a lot of work to go into a week as hectic as World Food Prize Week, but so much more goes into welcoming over 1,000 people from over 50 different countries at this international conference and award ceremony than I could have ever imagined. My main tasks during this busy week of events were to assist Ambassador Quinn with his schedule throughout the day, serve as a liaison between the Ambassador and the staff, and to interact with the international guests that we were lucky enough to host.
The World Food Prize staff, interns, and volunteers amazed me. They worked countless hours to ensure a successful week for everyone. I have never seen so many people running on so few hours of sleep, and stay as driven and motivated as this group of people did. All of the energy they had they invested was to keep Norman Borlaug’s vision alive, and it was remarkable to see so closely. Ambassador Quinn said it several times throughout the week, but after seeing all of the hard work and passion that went into the week, I have to believe that “Norm is looking down from Heaven and smiling upon the work presented at the World Food Prize.” I spent a great deal of time with Ambassador Quinn, as one could imagine, and it’s safe to say that we have become pretty good friends because of those days spent striving for a road to end poverty.
I learned so many valuable lessons throughout the week just by watching him interact with people, conduct business, and stay calm and collected despite being in stressful situations. When we weren’t dealing with the logistics of the events, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the dialogue that was presented by the panels during the symposium, and I was more excited than ever about agriculture and ending hunger. Globally, society is a long way from food security, but I left Des Moines inspired to continue working towards sustainability in the global food chain alongside the incredible teams of people all over the world who are working every day to alleviate hunger and reduce poverty. For me, that is #whyagribusiness.