Nevada High School senior at World Food Prize Youth Institute

Staff Writer
Nevada Journal
Alyssa Schaeffer, Nevada High School senior and World Food Prize student scholar participant. Schaeffer's research paper focused on the challenges faced by women farmers in Saudi Arabia.

Alyssa Schaeffer, a Nevada High School senior, participated in the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute on Oct. 12-15, in Des Moines, during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. The symposium drew 1,500 people from more than 60 countries to discuss the world’s hunger and food security issues.

This year’s World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium focused on the theme “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” and put special emphasis on issues such as: the crucial role of nutrition in global food security, leadership, biofortification, conflict and infrastructure. Global Youth Institute students and teachers had the opportunity to take part in symposium sessions with the top minds and foremost leaders in global agriculture, food and development.

Students and their teacher-sponsors arrived on Wednesday evening, Oct. 12. Students and teachers were able to listen to presentations and discussions from leading scientists from around the world on topics such as “growth stunting” due to lack of dietary nutrients. Other topics included the future of displacement of workers due to automation benefits from international company merging to improve product and service, and the financing of developing countries’ agriculture to create economic growth. Kevin Cooper, Nevada High School ag ed instructor and FFA advisor, accompanied Schaeffer and participated in the entire conference, including a segment of professional development for licensure renewal credit. “I am so impressed with the variety of topics, depth and scope of this conference — extremely thought-provoking!” added Cooper.

It was Dr. Borlaug’s dream to ensure a promising future for the world by inspiring the next generation of agricultural researchers and leaders. He and John Ruan Sr. established the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute 22 years ago, and today it is renowned and being held up by national STEM leaders as a model program to be replicated in all states.

High school students select a country and food-security topic, research it and write an original paper, offering their own solutions, which they then present to global experts for feedback. Around 300 students from 32 U.S. states and territories and several foreign countries, along with their teachers, were able to take the opportunity to interact with visiting leaders and experts, participate in the symposium and partake in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet.

On Friday, students and teachers took field trips, including to Kemin Industries, Syngenta Seeds and Hawkeye Breeder Service in Adel. The conference culminated at Pioneer Carver Center in Johnston. All students were able to present in small groups and respond to questions posed by scholarly experts and their student peers. In addition, the Borlaug Research interns had their research projects on display for everyone to peruse and inquire about details.