Norman Borlaug Science Achievement Award

The Norman Borlaug Science Achievement Award (NBSAA), established in 2005, recognizes deserving high school juniors who excel at science. This award, presented by The Alumni Society of the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), serves as a catalyst for students to consider a career in food, agriculture, and/or natural resource sciences through an education in CFANS. 

Norman Borlaug Science Achievement Award

Recipients of this award receive;
- Recognition by their high school and the University of Minnesota
- An award certificate for their accomplishment
- A book, typically authored by a University of Minnesota alumnus or professor
- A copy of the book for their high school library
- A $1,000 scholarship upon successful enrollment in CFANS

Supporting through Presenting

The CFANS Alumni Society invites alumni to present an award at a high school of their choosing. Volunteering to present an NBSAA gives you the opportunity to;
- connect with a local high school
- inspire potential CFANS students
- provide greater awareness of the University of Minnesota and the CFANS mission.

The time commitment for presenting an award is 1 to 2 hours between now and the award presentations at the local high school in late spring. 

Make a difference in the life of a local student through just a few simple steps. You may be the catalyst for the next Norman Borlaug!

Note: You do NOT have to know a student at the high school of your choice. The school selects the student - you just help present it.

Who was Normal Ernest Borlaug?

NORMAN ERNEST BORLAUG, an American biologist and humanitarian, was born March 25, 1914, on a farm in Iowa. He enrolled in the University of Minnesota, where he studied forestry, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1937. He received a master’s degree in plant pathology and genetics two years later, and earned his PhD in 1942. To pay for his education, Borlaug took various jobs, including one during the Depression with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Here he worked with the unemployed, many of whom were starving, an experience that left a permanent impression on him. In a later interview in the Dallas Observer, he explained his change of heart: “I saw how food changed them. . . .All this left scars on me.”

During World War II he worked for DuPont, an American chemical company, researching compounds useful to the US armed forces. These included camouflage, canteen disinfectants, and saltwater-resistant glue. Borlaug moved to Mexico City after the war to direct the newly established Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program, a joint undertaking of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government. The group of Mexican and US scientists focused on wheat and maize production, plant pathology, and soil improvement. Here Borlaug developed a semi-dwarf wheat that was high yielding and rust resistant. His work led to increased production of wheat in many countries, including Mexico, Pakistan, and India, and thus improved these countries’ food security. Combined, his work and improved agricultural techniques have been labeled the “Green Revolution”. Borlaug was credited with saving more than a billion people from starvation and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. He continued promoting these ideas, asserting that increased crop yields would help curb deforestation.

Despite his many accomplishments, Borlaug’s work has garnered criticism from environmentalists and nutritionists. The concerns have been on several fronts: for bringing large-scale monoculture farming to countries that had previously relied on subsistence farming, for decreasing biodiversity, for introducing inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, and for promoting genetic crossbreeding. Others lamented the fact that his methods often brought huge profits for US agribusiness and agrochemical companies while also widening the social inequality in countries where they were implemented. Borlaug listened to his critics but dismissed many of them as elitists. In an interview with the Atlantic he maintained that many of those who criticized his approach “had never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. . . . If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world . . . they’d be crying for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals.”

In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his significant contributions to humanity.

Biography of Norman Ernest Borlaug written by Susan Davis Price from the book, Ten Plants That Changed Minnesota by Mary Hockenberry Meyer and Susan Davis Price. 

Norman Borlaug Science Achievement Award