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Twelve Waukee students attended the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute (IYI) to present original research on solving world hunger in our lifetime on April 25. The Iowa Youth Institute has reached over 58 percent of Iowa schools since its inception in 2011 and has been referred to as the most significant event to inspire Iowa high school students to focus on the global issues in STEM.

Students from Timberline School and Waukee High School participated in the event.

The World Food Prize IYI is an opportunity for students held at Iowa State University each April. During this day-long event, students are able to immerse themselves in the world of food security while presenting their ideas and findings to leading professionals.

During the event, the students proposed their solutions in small-group roundtable discussions facilitated by academic and industry experts. Students also engaged in interactive immersion sessions, which cover topics of plant genetics, human nutrition, food insecurity in Iowa, sustainability and the environment.

Senior Kaitlyn Cox attended the IYI through the Waukee APEX program, where she presented her ideas on Chile’s dietary problems and obesity epidemic. Waukee’s APEX program partnered with the World Food Prize through a global food systems class.

Cox reflected on her experience at the IYI: “Presenting to a roundtable was great, but the best part was mingling with other students and intellectuals about their topics and their passions.” Cox will be attending Iowa State University for dietetics to become a registered dietitian.

Students that complete the paper and participate in the day-long event receive a $500 scholarship to Iowa State University in a variety of career paths, including biology, agriculture, botany, technology, health, animal sciences or related fields.

The IYI is also competition-based. If students’ papers are chosen to advance to the next round, they present at the Global Youth Institute in the fall with other students and professional from across the nation.

Additionally, students that complete the IYI are eligible to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture Wallace Carver Fellowship to work in research facilities across the United States.

Below is the list of students who attended, their respective schools and their topic of research:

  1. Gautham Ajith, Timberline School, researched water scarcity in Chad.
  2. Claire Baudler, Waukee High School, researched education in Ethiopia.
  3. Kaitlyn Cox, Waukee High School, researched dietary diseases in Chile.
  4. Payton Holmes, Waukee High School, researched water and sanitation in Kosovo.
  5. Corey Montes, Waukee High School, researched water scarcity in Sierra Leone.
  6. Mackenzie Nehls, Waukee High School, researched human diseases in Haiti.
  7. Lauren Nelson, Waukee High School, researched malnutrition in Ecuador.
  8. Jaret Norton, Waukee High School, researched conflict resolution in the Falkland Islands.
  9. Logan Russell, Waukee High School, researched malnutrition in Nepal.
  10. Bhavana Sirimalle, Timberline School, researched water and sanitation in India.
  11. Erin Stender, Waukee High School, researched malnutrition in Mozambique.
  12. Hanid Valdez, Waukee High School, researched water and sanitation in Haiti.