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World Food Prize STEM Program Marks Fifth year with 600 High School Students and Teachers

The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute is a growing model STEM program, working to spark students’ interests for STEM and the agricultural career paths. Students will participate in unique interactive labs and network with Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, ISU President Steve Leath, and faculty and business leaders.

(Des Moines, Iowa) – The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute has more than tripled in size and reaches over 58 percent of Iowa high schools since it was inaugurated as a unique private-public partnership in 2011. As it celebrates its fifth anniversary, it has engaged with over 1000 students from more than 225 from across the state and has served as a national model for 17 other state youth institutes.

On Monday, April 25, over 600 students, teachers and experts from across Iowa will gather on the campus of Iowa State University for this annual high school STEM exploration program to discuss critical global food security issues and discover academic and career paths in STEM and agriculture-related fields. Governor Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will address the students, as will Iowa State president Steve Leath and Dupont Pioneer Director of Platform Management Marv Wilson.

Waukee students participating include Havana Sirimalle, Claire Baudler, Corey Montes, Erin Stender, Gautham Ajith, Hanid Valdez, Jaret Norton, Kaitlyn Cox, Lauren Nelson, Logan Russell, Mackenzie Nehls, and Payton Holmes.

Each participating high school student has written a research paper on a key issue, such as environmental volatility, soil degradation, nutrition, water scarcity or gender inequality, that impacts hunger in a developing country. During the event, the students will propose their solutions in small-group roundtable discussions facilitated by academic and industry experts. Students will also engage in interactive immersion sessions, which cover topics of plant genetics, human nutrition, food insecurity in Iowa, sustainability, and the environment.

“Norman Borlaug and John Ruan Sr. started the World Food Prize Youth Programs to inspire the next generation to become involved in our food system, and to have that spark of curiosity that will compel them to confront the greatest challenge in human history: whether we can sustainably and nutritiously feed the more than 9 billion people who will be on our planet by 2050,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of The World Food Prize Foundation.

Dr. Norman Borlaug, Iowa’s great hero whose statue is now enshrined in the U.S. Capitol for his great agricultural and humanitarian achievements, founded the World Food Prize and also envisioned this and other World Food Prize youth programs as the way to inspire the next generation of scientists and humanitarians to pursue education and careers in critical global food security fields.

“With the skills and connections I gained from the World Food Prize, I was able to travel to India. While in India, I worked as a service learner in the areas of food, nutrition and health,” said Ella Gehrke a sophomore at Iowa State and graduate of Waukee High School. “I can speak from experience that the Iowa Youth Institute can change a student’s life. After participating in the Iowa Youth Institute, I found a career path: I now attend Iowa State University as a Global Resource Systems major with a focus in emerging global diseases.”

Other World Food Prize youth programs also include the Global Youth Institute, the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship and the USDA Wallace-Carver Fellowship.

EVENT DETAILS: This year’s Iowa Youth Institute will take place Monday, April 25, at the Hilton Coliseum and the Scheman Center at Iowa State University in Ames, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Media are welcome to attend.


7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Student & Teacher Registration and Reception: Hilton Coliseum

9 a.m – 9:50 a.m.

Opening Session: Hilton Coliseum

Speakers: Steve Leath, Amb. Ken Quinn, Marv Wilson

10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Roundtable Discussion Groups: Scheman Building & Hilton Coliseum

Immersion Sessions: Scheman Building, Hilton Coliseum & Iowa State Campus

12:10 p.m. – 1 p.m.              

Student and Expert Luncheon: Hilton Coliseum

1 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Keynote Address: Hilton Coliseum

Speakers: Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds            

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.          

Roundtable Discussion Groups: Scheman Building & Hilton Coliseum

Immersion Sessions: Scheman Building, Hilton Coliseum & Iowa State Campus

3:40 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Student Alumni Session: Hilton Coliseum

4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Student Networking Reception and Refreshments: Hilton Coliseum

WHERE: The Hilton Coliseum and the Scheman Center at Iowa State University, Ames and various laboratories across the campus. (Located at the corner of University and Lincoln Way; Enter from Center Drive.)

MEDIA DETAILS: Please check in at the registration desk at Hilton Coliseum (South Doors). Media are welcome to attend any and all parts of the day.


Twitter: @TheNextNormIA and @WorldFoodPrize, using the hashtag #IYI16.

Instagram: @TheNextNormIA and @WorldFoodPrize

Facebook: /TheNextNormIA and /WorldFoodPrize

More information is available at www.worldfoodprize.org/iowayouth.


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