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World Food Prize 2019 news

UHS Student Selected To Attend World Food Prize Global Youth Institute

Urbandale High School student, Emma Johansen, was among the top high school students in the country and around the world selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute (GYI) in Des Moines during the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, which drew 1,000 people from 50 countries to discuss the world’s hunger and food security issues. This year marked the 25th anniversary of this prestigious youth education program welcoming over 460 students and teachers from 26 U.S. states/territories and 10 countries.

“My last act as President during my final set of World Food Prize events was to address the Global Youth Institute,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation. “It was always Dr. Norman Borlaug’s favorite event as the young students were his hope for the future. I was so thrilled that what was just 25 students from Iowa the first year I was president has grown to over 200 from 26 states and 10 foreign countries, all carrying forward the Borlaug legacy. It has become a true joy to watch these students grow and find a passion in confronting hunger and agriculture, all from the first moment they were impacted at the GYI.”

World Food Prize

UHS Student Emma Johansen with Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation.

In order to be considered for participation, students identify a country of interest and research a topic affecting the global food system, then propose an evidence-based solution to improve the lives of families living within the country. Students are selected to attend the conference by presenting their solutions at a regional youth institute or through an at-large selection process.

“Attending GYI showed me a whole new side to agriculture and food security,” said Johansen. “I never knew it had such a big impact on lives across the globe. Being able to meet experts that traveled far just to talk with the participants of GYI about ways they have helped to fight these problems has really inspired me to try and do the same. I was able to meet students from many countries and work together to further our knowledge in providing solutions to help others. It was an honor to be selected and to be able to experience such a welcoming community for these three days.”

At the three-day international symposium these 216 high school students had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of internationally renowned World Food Prize Laureates and leaders in food, agriculture and international development. The program began with a keynote address from the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate and President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and also featured the 2019 Africa Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Emma Naluyima.

Global Youth Institute attendees also participated in Borlaug Dialogue Symposium sessions featuring:

  • 2019 World Food Prize Laureate Simon N. Groot of the Netherlands
  • President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, H.E. Felix Tshisekedi
  • The CEOs of many of the world’s major agribusiness companies, including: Bayer Ag, Corteva Agriscience, Kemin Industries, Victoria Seeds and Syngenta
  • Researchers and non-profit leaders from around the globe

Students then presented original research papers and participated in roundtable discussions with leading experts in agricultural industries, technological innovation and international policy. Participants also took part in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to better understand the realities of global hunger and poverty.

At the Global Youth Institute, students and teachers interacted with their peers from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as Canada, China, Honduras, India, Kosovo, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Participants also viewed the 2019 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony honoring Simon N. Groot of The Netherlands. He was recognized for his transformative role in empowering millions of smallholder farmers in more than 60 countries to earn greater incomes through enhanced vegetable production, benefiting hundreds of millions of consumers with greater access to nutritious vegetables for healthy diets. As founder and leader of East-West Seed, his initiative over the past four decades has developed a dynamic, smallholder-centric tropical vegetable seed industry, starting in Southeast Asia and spreading through Asia, Africa and Latin America. Coverage of the 2019 Laureate Award Ceremony is available at

The Urbandale Community School District congratulates Emma Johansen for her outstanding work in researching important topics related to global food security and for admirably representing Urbandale High School while meeting students and experts from around the world. Well done!