Minnesota high schoolers present solutions to hunger issues at Global Youth Institute, World Food Prize Symposium

Ten high school students will represent Minnesota as delegates to the World Food Prize Forum Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa, October 17-20. The annual event draws more than 1200 international guests from 65 countries, including recognized experts and Nobel Prize Laureates, interested in food security and agricultural issues.

Held in conjunction with the awarding of the World Food Prize and Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, the youth institute is a highly selective honor. High school students have to participate in the MN Youth Institute, hosted by the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).

The Minnesota Youth Institute challenges high school youth to research solutions to local and global hunger issues. Students who submit research papers are invited to the University of Minnesota campus in May to share their ideas with experts, namely scientists, state-wide industry leaders, state and local government officials, and their peers. They gain hands-on experiences through science immersions and various activities throughout campus.

The Minnesota students selected as 2018 Global Youth Institute delegates are: Anushree Acharya, Plymouth; Nia Baker, Andover; Eesha Bharti, Cottage Grove; Ella Colbert, Plymouth; Sarah Eichstadt, Coon Rapids; Sanjana Molleti, Apple Valley; Stella Olson, Plymouth; Aurora Rainwater, Minneapolis; Lydia Rigge, Belview; and Elizabeth Spencer, Rochester.

From the nearly 100 participants, a select few are chosen to represent Minnesota at the Global Youth Institute, a larger-scale culmination of the national program. At the Global Youth Institute, students continue to foster their ideas and challenge themselves to expand perspectives of their world. Last year students had the opportunity to interact with former presidents of Ghana and Nigeria, as well as leaders of various agribusiness companies. This year, among other speakers, students will hear from 2018 World Food Prize Laureates Lawrence Haddad, Ph.D., and Dr. David Nabarro, who have worked to elevate maternal and child malnutrition to a central issue within food security at national and international levels.

Priscilla Trinh

For the first time this year collegiate delegates will also attend the Global Youth Institute. Mari Leland from Medina was a senior at Wayzata High School and Priscilla Trinh from Eden Prairie was a senior at Minnetonka High School when they participated in the Minnesota Youth Institute. Leland is now a freshman at Purdue University, and Trinh is a CFANS freshman.

“Participation in the Minnesota Youth Institute was initially an assignment,” said Trinh. “But it proved to be an affirmation of my career aspirations and was an enlightening research experience on my heritage. Rather than dwell on the Earth’s dismal predicament, I am now buoyed with greater optimism for the future of food supply and power of collaboration. Feeding the world is not a matter of more production, it’s merely finding a way to coexist with nature in the most efficient way. My intentions to pursue food and technology at the University of Minnesota are bolstered and I hope to spread this enthusiasm far beyond the classroom.”

Students who participate in the Minnesota Youth Institute are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship upon admission to CFANS at UMN, and are eligible for paid Wallace-Carver internships with U.S.D.A. Delegates who are selected to participate in the Global Youth Institute are eligible to apply for one of 24 Borlaug-Ruan internships, an eight-week paid international research experience while they’re still in high school or have just graduated. This past summer two Minnesota students who were awarded these prestigious internships: Molly Carroll, from Plymouth, conducted research at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in El Batan, Mexico. JayEven McGee, from Benson, was at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) in Londrina, Brazil.


The Minnesota students who attended the World Food Prize