On May 12, Michigan State University hosted World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute (WFP MIYI). During the one-day event, youth in grades 8 to 12 presented research and recommendations on how to solve key global challenges by giving short speeches and taking part in small group discussions with local experts. They had the opportunity to connect with other student leaders from across Michigan to share ideas, identify solutions to problems and build friendships. They also interacted with global leaders in science, agriculture, industry and policy as well as innovative researchers, professors and college students working to improve food security around the world. Youth participants took part in educational sessions and interactive panels to explore current research and issues in international development and life sciences.
Several youth shared about their experiences with WFP MIYI:
“World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute has opened doors for me to a network that few organizations have the ability to do.”
“Through participating in WFP MIYI, I am more confident, learned so much and feel that I can make a difference.”
“My experience at the Michigan Youth Institute has given me skills in leadership and confidence, and has inspired me to think about others around the world.”
“My experience here not only helped me learn how to do research, write a paper on that research, and present it. It also exposed me to all of these global issues and to some wonderful experts and peers who are active in solving that.”
“The experience of participating in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute has helped me prepare for a huge goal that will be to fight and conquer hunger.”
The WFP MIYI is sponsored by Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-H, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Michigan FFA. MSU Extension 4-H educators Makena Schultz and Brian Wibby lead the collaboration and organization of WFP MIYI.
“The WFP MIYI directly engages young people in what could be one of the most significant challenges ever to face humanity: How will we provide access to a sufficient, nutritious and sustainable diet for each of the 9 to 10 billion people who could be inhabiting our planet later in this century? The WFP MIYI helps young people to develop an understanding of the interconnected nature of the many factors that are related to global food security, and creates a space where youth can develop the knowledge and skills needed to create effective solutions to this wicked problem,” Brian said.
Makena feels that the most meaningful takeaway from the event is that young people have a chance to take action in their passion for helping others.
“The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute offers a lens for young people to do that, so they can explore their passion, through the lens of global food security, which is really exciting,” she said. “Young people have really innovative ideas, they’re very creative, they think outside the box, and very often they come up with great solutions to problems that maybe adults or other members of the community might not see so easily.”
Interested in hearing more about World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute? Kraig Ehm of MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Creative interviews Makena and participant Raegan Gembarski on the World Food Prize edition of In the Field on the Spartan Podcast.