Erik Gerdts, member of the St. Ansgar FFA Chapter, participated in the first-ever virtual institute.

The World Food Prize Foundation hosted its 9th annual Iowa Youth Institute (IYI) on Monday, April 27, 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. Three students from Osage attended the institute: Gwen Voaklander, Emily Maliszewski, and Abbi Rodemaker. Additionally, Erik Gerdts and Adrianna Kruse from St. Ansgar were among the 264 students who participated in this program.

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. 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.

“The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute did not disappoint this year,” said Amy Akers, Educator at Ankeny Southview Middle School. “Even though we could not meet together physically, the organization and communication by leaders made it accessible and valuable for all involved. Students learned from each other and experts in global food security, they were given choices for virtual immersion experiences, and there were inspiring speeches from keynote speakers. I also appreciate the opportunities to learn and interact as a teacher. Even amid challenges of a new format, this was a valuable experience for all involved.”

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