Mississippi high school students participate in World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute

Author: Vanessa Beeson

group of high school students

WFP MYI participants include (front, l-r) Shelby Wheat, Sarina Dale, Abigail Shaw, Sherquesha Stewart, Ayden Richardson, Tomyah Smith, Tera Dora, Jilkiah Bryant; (back, l-r) Mary Driskill, Quentin Jamison, Jarius Hudgins, Kaleb Kellum, Dominique Key, Jonah Holland  (Photo by Dominique Belcher)

More than a dozen high school students participated in the second annual World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute on Friday [March 23] at Mississippi State University.

Hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, students from across Mississippi spent the day engaged in conversation about global food security with their peers, teachers, MSU faculty and administrators and various food security experts.

Attendees were officially designated Borlaug Scholars for their participation and are eligible for scholarships to Mississippi State University. The Borlaug Scholars pay tribute to the World Food Prize's founder Norman E. Borlaug. To become a Borlaug Scholar, each student wrote a research paper about a developing country and a food security topic. Each project included innovative ways to improve global food security. The students presented their findings at the on-campus event.

"The Mississippi Youth Institute is a partnership program with the World Food Prize. It challenges high school students to explore the world's most pressing issues related to food security," said Libby Crimmings, the World Food Prize's national education program director. "The World Food Prize's founder, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, was passionate about working with students. He believed if you want people solving these challenges when they are 60 years old, they have to be thinking about it when they are 16 years old."

MSU President Mark E. Keenum, a global food security champion, welcomed the students in an opening session.

"By 2050, the world population will surpass 10 billion. That means we will need to feed an additional 3 billion people at our global dinner table by the time this class of Borlaug Scholars reaches their 40s," Keenum said. "That's why we need young talented students like this who take an interest in the future of the world to try and make a difference, serve humanity and address these critical challenges."

"It's also why Mississippi State, as a leading land-grant research institution trained on improving food security on a global scale, is tackling many of these problems today. We are trying to address these challenges through science and research to figure out how we can advance productivity so we can feed the world." Keenum added.

Scott Willard, associate dean of MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, along with support from the entire MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine administration, has been instrumental in seeing this institute come to fruition.

"Our college is thrilled to host the second annual World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute. Achieving global food security is essential as it becomes evident that we must feed more people with fewer resources," Willard said. "This program provides a platform for high school students to formulate novel solutions to help solve one of the most pressing needs of their generation."

Students also attended the college's Charles E. Lindley Lecture. Charles H. Beady Jr., CEO of the Mississippi Food Network, presented on hunger in the Magnolia State. His presentation, "Mississippi: The Hungriest State in the Nation" explained how MFN is addressing food insecurity.

Top students from World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute will be invited to the Global Youth Institute in Iowa in October. Participating students also are eligible to apply to the Borlaug Ruan International Internship and the USDA Wallace-Carver Fellowship.

Participating Borlaug Scholars include (by hometown):


Jonah Holland, a homeschooled student, discussed education through technology as a way to help farming families who raise livestock in Nepal.


Tera Dora of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how better leadership, increased access to education, and improved sewage systems can reduce water scarcity in North Korea.

Sherquesha Stewart of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how teaching vulnerable populations in Australia about basic rights and available services, like the Australian Indigenous Wellness Program, can help improve food access.


Dominique Key of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how small-scale gardening and farming can improve food access for people in Cuba.

Ayden Richardson of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how water catchment systems can increase access to clean water and improve sanitation in Haiti.


Jilkiah Bryant of Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science discussed how an improved food and water supply can reduce infectious disease among military personnel, foreign aid workers, and local populations in Afghanistan.

Jarius Hudgins of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how partnerships between urban and rural communities in South Africa can improve food spoilage and waste.

Quentin Jamison of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how social issues in Brazil affect the population's access to food security and how policy change, agricultural technology and grassroots efforts can help turn the tide.

Tomyah Smith of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how improving Egypt's education system can have a positive impact on the country's food security.


Shelby Wheat of Clarkdale High School discussed the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk in countries like Venezuela.


Sarina Dale of Lawrence County High School discussed ways to pay for the poverty in Swaziland.


Kaleb Kellum of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed how the spread of infectious disease impacts food security in Egypt and how engagement in the Food and Agriculture Organization's projects within the country can help improve outcomes.


Mary Driskill of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed ways to help reduce malnutrition in children in Guatemala.

Abigail Shaw of Golden Triangle Early College High School discussed the effects of animal health on human health in Botswana and how better access to technology, education and vaccines can help improve outcomes.

For more information on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, visit www.cals.msstate.edu.

Date: 2018-03-23

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences