Last Monday, 14 high school students from around the state and Chicago spent the day on the CALS campus to address issues of global hunger with CALS experts. The experience was part of the second annual World Food Prize – Wisconsin Youth Institute.

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 students who completed a rigorous application process – including a research paper on food security – to participate in the event.

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Karimah Preston explains her research paper to her discussion group.

The participants started the day with immersion sessions, learning about professors’ work and how it relates to agriculture and food security. Lunch featured keynote speakers Tom Schraeder and Barry Hottmann who have partnered to create Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, a food-processing kitchen in Mineral Point, Wisconsin that supports the community and helps family farms. After lunch, students broke into discussion groups, and each student was asked to talk about his or her research paper. Students also fielded questions from faculty mentors and other participants.

As students took part in the discussion groups, observers listened in to evaluate the participants and their research papers. 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.

Dean Kate VandenBosch, who served as a faculty mentor, addressed the students at the closing ceremony saying, “CALS is pleased to be the state’s host for this incredible program that encourages high school students to consider the challenges facing the global food system. We also hope to encourage you to bring the energy and enthusiasm that you’ve shown here today to the task of developing solutions that can sustainably ensure food for all the people of the world… There’s a place for everyone in this complex issue.”

See more photos in this Facebook album.