Wednesday, October 22, 2014

World Wisdom with Weaver - Ms. Weaver goes to World Food Prize!

Des Moines @ Night (view from Hotel Room)
Oh readers! The last ten days have been some of the most remarkable of my life! I am beyond excited to share my experiences with you, so sit back, relax, and enjoy reading my tales of World Food Prize!

Each year, the humble city of Des Moines, Iowa busts at the seams as hundreds of scientists, politicians, professionals, researchers, students, teachers and others descend upon it for the World Food Prize. Begun in 1986, this event was initiated by Norman Borlaug to (from the website): "recognize - without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs - the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world." 

Each year, since 1987, a Laureate has been named and awarded a monetary prize through a sponsorship funded by businessman and philanthropist, John Ruan. The World Food Prize event allows committed parties from all over the world to come together, share, challenge, and try to solve the issue of providing food for the population. 
Kayla and I in the lobby 

I arrived Wednesday night and was soon joined by my roommate and partner-in-learning for the event, Kayla Hack (@HackKayla), the PSU Global Teach Ag! Intern. We were both a little nervous and unsure of what to expect, but we're both adventurous, so we were ready to see what WFP had to offer! Our first day there, we traveled to the Marriott Hotel and were immediately immersed in the hustle and bustle of the event. We zoomed up to the 2nd floor and joined one of the Borlaug Dialogues being held there. The first was a round table discussion on Soil Health and Fertilizer. Then we were honored to hear Dr. Pamela Anderson (Director of Agricultural Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) address the group.

Kayla and I were lucky enough to meet Dr. Emma!
Next, came a presentation regarding the development of the African smallholder and women's education. This was also my favorite presentation of the entire event. Dr. Emma Naluyima Mugerwa was dynamic, interesting, inspiring and humorous all at once! Her presentation was magical and had every person in the room wanting to drop everything and return with her to Uganda to help her realize her dreams! If you can, I recommend you checking out the WEBCASTS from the event. They were all so interesting.

At the luncheons we were served meals that centralized or highlighted particular foods or people - our first meal centered on the soybean, and the other meals honored the keynote speakers including Dr. Rajaram, the 2014 WFP Laureate! Delicious meals and great company! We met a family farmer from England who had been nominated to attend by his county, a specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology who makes educational parodies of hit songs, and an adviser for a company that provides micro-financing to name a few!

Dr. Rajaram receives his award at the luncheon
But, the World Food Prize wasn't the only event occurring! In addition to the esteemed participants of the event, there were 170 students accompanied by their teachers, parents or advisors attending the Global Youth Institute. These students had developed a research paper detailing information on a country and issue they chose. These ranged from water quality in India to infrastructure of Japan and providing hot lunches to children in Bolivia. They mingled with the World Food Prize participants and participated in learning sessions during the week.
Borlaug and Ruan family members!

Teachers also challenged themselves. There was a teacher professional development workshop that I attended with Kayla. We learned some techniques to incorporate global learning into the classroom (I'll share in a future blog!).  We even met up with fellow Pennsylvanian Tiffany Turrentine (teacher at W.B. Saul HS in Philadelphia)! She made PA proud by sharing her expertise and creativity with the group!
Tiffany share her visual of global issues

On Saturday, the students had their chance to shine! They were split into several smaller groups consisting of 7-10 student presenters, 3 panel members, and a mediator. Teachers, parents and guests were able to move about the rooms. There, each student summarized their research and recommendations in a 3-minute presentation. The panel members (consisting of field experts from around the world) then made comments and asked questions. After all presentations, each group then elected a representative to share out to the whole group later in the day.

On Saturday, I also saw the posters and met some of the 23 Borlaug-Ruan International Interns from this year. Three accomplished young ladies were kind enough to share with me on video their experiences. Students attending the Global Youth Institute are eligible to apply for this amazing experience. Why would any student not want to take advantage of this opportunity?!

I want to personally thank Jacob Hunter, Keegan Kautzky, Lisa Fleming and Libby Crimmings. These amazing people have made this event possible and were so kind to welcome Kayla and me in and teach us about the program. 

Students and teachers, I absolutely encourage you to investigate this opportunity. The students I met during this event where poised, creative, respectful, mature and full of amazing potential. We ABSOLUTELY have those qualities in PA students! Students can apply to be interns internationally or can work stateside with the Washington Carver Internship. Please check it out, you will not be disappointed! 

Kayla & I and the WB Saul reps got to meet Dr. Rajaram!

As always my friends, keep looking for those great opportunities to travel, share, grow and learn. Although I traveled to a destination within the US, the things I experienced have changed me forever. Travel, meeting people of diverse backgrounds, challenging yourself in new situations and simply putting yourself out there can have positive and lasting affects on your life!

Agriculturally Yours,

With Dr. Ngumbi of Auburn University (originally from Kenya)
Nicole Weaver
PSU Teach Ag! Fellow
PA Agriculture Teacher
Hooked on World Food Prize!

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