On April 29, two Newton Senior High School students participated in the 2013 Iowa Youth Institute presented by the World Food Prize Foundation, held at Iowa State University.
Ethan McConkey and Emily law traveled with their teacher and adviser, Bill Reed, to present their research and recommendations to global leaders in the fields of science, industry, education and policy.
In order to participate in this event, McConkey and Law had to write papers between 2200 and 3500 words and include a bibliography with at least five sources and in-text citations. The papers had to focus on food security issues in a developing county of the student’s choice, and a key factor in world hunger from a provided list.
The students researched in depth in order to write their papers, and said that they learned a lot.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” Law said. “Seeing how the families have to struggle to find food, feed their children, and give them proper foods to maintain good nutrition.”
Laws’ paper was five pages and dealt with malnutrition in Madagascar. McConkey wrote his paper on how establishing peace in Somalia would lead to more food being produced, and said he used about 20 sources and wrote more than 2200 words.
“It was a challenge, but worth it,” McConkey said.
While at the day-long affair, the students got to present their findings in small groups to the various officials and other students present.
“We talked about how crops are raised and how we can help them to raise crops that would help provide nutrition,” Law said.
“I liked being able to talk and present to government figures,” McConkey said. “I personally didn’t get as much feedback. They told me good job, great paper, and said that it was well thought out.”
Reed said he has been taking students to this conference since 2001, and that he enjoys that the institutes represent the teachings of Dr. Norman Borlaug, whom is his uncle. Reed also said he enjoys watching his students present.
“The teachers don’t participate, we just sit back and watch,” Reed said. “It’s really neat to watch these students interact with policy makers and world leading scientist, (who are) making these great discoveries. Here they are listening to these high school kids and making them really feel like their opinion and that the research that they did is really valuable to them.”
80 Iowa students out of the 300 Iowa students and teachers who participated in the day will get an opportunity to participate in the Global Youth Institute in Des Moines in October. That event will feature over 250 kids from across the county and a 1,000 world leaders from more than 75 counties according to the World Food Prize site.
Reed said that two previous students attended and actually earned the right to participate in the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship. The internship is an eight week all expenses paid internship were students work hand in hand with scientist and policy makers in a global research centers in a developing nation.
Law credited Reed for getting her involved in the program.
“Mr. Reed asked me if I would do it and I was like ‘Sure,’” Law said. “I started doing research and it just really sparked my interest, (just) seeing how to help other people.”
McConkey said that another teacher Margaret Caldwell helped and inspired him.
“At one point I tried to convince her to let me drop out of it, but she told me, ’Keep on going,” McConkey said. “She is like the only reason I actually finished it. She focused on the research and I came up with the plan. She helped streamline it quite a bit.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121, ext. 426, or firstname.lastname@example.org