High school students from across the state presented research findings and participated in the Minnesota Youth Institute on May 17 for a virtual educational program hosted by the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the World Food Prize Foundation.

Sarrah Abdullahi, Kiran Leonard, and Ava Roots from Stillwater Area High School were among the 100 students from 35 schools to participate in the virtual event, according to a press release from the University of Minnesota. The students engaged with leaders in science, policy and industry to discuss the world’s most pressing challenges in hunger, poverty and equity.

In order to participate in the program, students research and write a paper on a global challenge affecting food security, the release states. They provide recommendations on how to solve the issue and better the lives of a typical family in a country they do not reside in. This year, 50 countries and 20 topics were researched. Students are then invited to a half-day event (typically held on campus, but held virtually this year) to engage in interactive immersions and dialogues.

The Minnesota Youth Institute is a program of the World Food Prize Foundation. The World Food Prize was created in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Norman Borlaug, the University of Minnesota alum credited with saving more than one billion lives. It is the foremost international award recognizing individuals whose achievements have advanced human development by increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

For their participation, the students are recognized as Borlaug Scholars and are now eligible for scholarships, internships and other professional opportunities, including Wallace-Carver Fellowships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A selected cohort will also advance to the Global Youth Institute, a gathering of more than 1,000 students and world leaders working to advance food security and human development.

Of the students who complete the Global Youth Institute, approximately 92% go on to pursue college degrees in agriculture and science, and 77 percent choose careers in agriculture, STEM and other fields critical to the fight against hunger, the release states.

High school educators and students interested in participating in the 2022 Minnesota Youth Institute can visit http://mnyi.cfans.umn.edu/ for more information.

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