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This past Friday, 10 high school students from across the state and Chicago spent the day on the CALS campus discussing issues of global hunger and poverty with CALS experts as part of the first-ever World Food Prize – Wisconsin Youth Institute event.

The full-day program, organized by CALS student services coordinator Cindy Fendrick with the help of World Food Prize staff, brought together a group of highly-motivated teens who completed a rigorous application process in order to participate in the event, including submitting a research paper on food security.

Participants started the day with immersion sessions, visiting with professors and hearing about how their work related to agriculture and food. After lunch, students broke into smaller discussion groups, and each student was given time to talk about his or her research paper and answer questions from faulty mentors.

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As students presented their research and took part in the discussions, observers listened in to evaluate each student. The top students will be invited to attend a three-day experience held in conjunction with the World Food Prize International Symposium in Iowa in October. All students who attended Friday’s institute, now Borlaug Scholars, will also have the opportunity to apply for internships and fellowships across the country and around the world.

At the closing ceremony, Dean Kate VandenBosch thanked the students for being part of the first year of the Wisconsin Youth Institute. “If Norman Borlaug were alive today, he would be so inspired to see that there are young people like you who are interested in learning more about agriculture, health, the environment and how those things are linked together,” she said.

This inaugural institute will pave the way for future institutes at UW-Madison. Fendrick hopes to increase the number of participating students going forward and draw students from more areas of the state and region.

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