World Food Prize Foundation

Frances Jackson
Conner Murty

The World Food Prize Foundation hosted its 9th annual Iowa Youth Institute (IYI) yesterday featuring the participation of 264 students and 110 teachers from 93 Iowa high schools. This virtual, day-long event was the first of its kind for the IYI supported by over 90 experts from across Iowa. Each year, the World Food Prize Youth Institutes convene high school students, teachers and experts to explore and solve local, national and global hunger and food security issues. In order to be a part of the Iowa Youth Institute, students research and write a paper on a global challenge related to hunger and food insecurity. The students along with Erin Murty, GMG High School Agriculture Instructor and FFA Advisor, took part in the institute on Monday, April 27th, online. After listening to the head of Landus Cooperative, Matt Carstens, give a keynote address, students and teachers were split into virtual meeting rooms to discuss their papers with local experts.

This year GMG High School had two local FFA members participate in the institute. Frances Jackson and Conner Murty began brainstorming ideas early this year. After choosing a country to research then then took a deeper look at the food insecurity issues, family dynamic, and government issues that are prevalent in these countries. After pinpointing the issues, they wrote a paper that discussed this food insecurity and formulated a solution to the problem. The final step was to take part in the Virtual Youth Institute online this week where they discussed their papers with peers from across the state of Iowa.

Frances chose to write her paper about the hunger and poverty present in the country of Guatemala. In the rural areas of Guatemala, the poverty is vast and much of that is due to the locations being remote and hard to access. In these areas they are in need of proteins that they can use for their own families as well as for use as a marketing tool in which to make money for their families. Her solution was to introduce meat goats to them in addition to teaching them how to plant and manage Napier grass for the goats to eat. This could be done through a program entitled Goats for Guatemala. The goal would be to have it be run entirely by native Guatemalans within five years thus creating sustainable employment, protein sources, marketing power, and none of this would require a higher education for them to attain. However, in the end they would learn a great deal about producing goats, grass, marketing, and provide a better life for their families.

Conner wrote about the country of Uganda. In Uganda only 35% of the tillable land is utilize and it takes all the family members to plant, care for, and harvest their crops, including children as young as 5 years of age. He believes that they can increase wealth by planting more acres to native crops that they can then turn around and market. The problem lies in that they cannot always get water to the ground they want to plant; therefore they do not add additional acres to their farms. His solution was to use a solar powered water pump to bring water to the land they wish to farm so that they can farm more acres, market more crops, and thus increase the family’s wealth. This would lead to them being able to send their children to school and in the end provide a better way of life for them all.

Currently, 25 states, the Netherlands and Honduras host Youth Institutes, where students can be selected to serve as delegates at the Global Youth Institute as part of October’s Borlaug International Dialogue. As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation shifted to a virtual platform, in order to make the institutes more accessible online. The Foundation is committed to continuing to offer its educational programs to more than 10,000 students this year. Thousands of students have taken part in the Iowa Youth Institute since its start in 2011, and over 2,000 Iowa high school students have been invited to the Global Youth Institute. For submitting a paper and taking part in the IYI, France and Conner will both receive a $500 scholarship to the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at Iowa State University. This one-day event is offered at no cost to teachers or students. Frances is the daughter of Matt and Ann Jackson of rural Garwin, and Conner is the son of Steve and Erin Murty of rural Gladbrook. Both are Juniors at GMG High School in Garwin, Iowa. More details are available at “http://www.worldfoodprize.org/iowayouth”>www.worldfoodprize.org/iowayouth.