The best and brightest students from 31 U.S. states and territories and seven countries attended speeches by world – renowned leaders, presented their own research, and joined in hunger relief efforts.

Gabriela Guetzko, a Maquoketa Valley High School Senior was among the select students nominated to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute Oct. 13-15, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa, during the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, which drew 1,500 people from more than 60 countries to discuss the world’s hunger and food security issues. The World Food Prize was founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug to recognize and inspire great achievements in improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world.

This year’s World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium focused on the theme “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” and gave 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. 

Global Youth Institute students and their teacher mentors attended symposium sessions featuring:  

His Excellency Akinwumi A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group;

Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda, Former President of the Republic of Malawi and Founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation;

The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, United States;

Roger Thurow, Journalist and Author of The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time For Mothers and Children- And The World, United States;

The CEOs of many of the world’s major agribusiness companies: DuPont, Hormel Foods, Monsanto, and Syngenta; and researchers, non-profit leaders and smallholder farmers from around the globe.

 At the three-day Institute, Guetzko and 200 other high school student participants of the program from across the United States and abroad researched global food security issues in the developing country of their choice and then submitted papers on those critical topics, which they also presented to a diverse group of internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates and other distinguished experts and scientists.

Guetzko presented a paper on the theme “Feeding Innovation, Fighting Hunger” and took part in roundtable discussions with experts in industry, science, academia and policy on the culminating day of the program. During the Institute, participants also helped with a hands-on service project packaging meals for Outreach, Inc., a hunger-fighting organization that serves people in the United States and internationally, toured innovative research and industrial facilities in and around Des Moines – and took part in an interactive Oxfam Hunger Banquet that brought to life the realities of hunger and poverty.

Created by Dr. Borlaug and Iowa businessman John Ruan in 1994, the Global Youth Institute today receives major support from Clay Mathile and the Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition. The program was developed to challenge and inspire participating student-teacher teams to identify ways of alleviating hunger, and to expose the students to opportunities and careers in food, agriculture and natural resource disciplines.

At the Global Youth Institute, Guetzko interacted with students and teachers from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Canada, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines and Tunisia. 

Participants also viewed Iowa Public Television’s live coverage of the 2016 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony that honored Dr. Maria Andrade of Cape Verde, Dr. Robert Mwanga of Uganda, Dr. Jan Low of the United States and Dr. Howarth Bouis of the United States as this year’s Prize recipients. Dr. Andrade and Dr. Mwanga, plant scientists in Mozambique and Uganda, bred the Vitamin A enriched OFSP, while Dr. Low structured nutrition studies and programs that convinced almost two million households in 10 African countries to plant, purchase and consume this nutritionally fortified food. Dr. Howarth Bouis, the founder of HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), pioneered the implementation of a multi-institutional approach to biofortification as a global plant breeding strategy. As a result of his leadership, crops such as iron and zinc fortified beans, rice, wheat and pearl millet, and Vitamin A-enriched cassava, maize and OFSP are being tested or released in over 40 countries. Through the combined efforts of the four Laureates, over 10 million persons are now positively impacted by biofortified crops, with a potential of several hundred million more having their nutrition and health enhanced in the coming decades. As such, they are truly worthy to be named as the recipients of the award that Norman Borlaug created thirty years ago to be seen as the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.”