What’s next for the Michigan Youth Institute winners?

Meet the 2015 Michigan Youth Institute winners and learn more about their upcoming adventure at the Global Youth Institute.

On Aug. 10, 2015, Michigan 4-H hosted its first World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute (WFP MIYI), which served as an opportunity for high school students in the state to network with experts and peers while exploring challenges and solutions around the issue of global food security. With a collection of over 50 people involved, including youth, mentors, community and faculty experts and volunteers, this program also served as an opportunity for youth to practice their critical thinking and writing, public speaking and problem solving skills. Participants were required to write a research paper, which was scored by a panel of World Food Prize experts. This score, along with scores from round table experts on youth oral presentations, are combined to help WFP MIYI coordinators select youth delegates to represent the state of Michigan at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute (WFP GYI).

Being a WFP GYI delegate is a special honor that is only given to a few youth from each state each year. This year, Michigan was awarded six delegate slots. With U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary Krysta Harden’s focus on creating opportunities, support systems and tools for women to become leaders in agriculture, we are proud to say that six amazing young women will be representing Michigan at WFP GYI this fall. The following are the WFP GYI Michigan delegates.

  • Francine Barchett is a senior at Grace Christian High School. Francine wrote her research paper on the country of Yemen and focused on how additional outreach and educational programs could help overcome some of the food systems challenges there. She is also a member of 4-H and National Honors Society.
  • Kayla Zhu will be graduating in 2018 from North Farmington High School. She conducted her research on international trade and how it impacts the country of Burundi. Zhu is also involved in Model UN and DECA. Hear more from Kayla Zhu.
  • Emily Kurbuski is a senior at Petoskey High School and focused her research on the struggles urbanization presents to food security in Venezuela. She has served on the planning committees for many 4-H events, and has also received a 4-H State Award in Civic Engagement.
  • Madeline Meyer will graduate from Ionia High School this year. She wrote her research paper on the impacts of infrastructure on farm to market capacities of producers in Ukraine. She is also involved in region five Michigan FFA and was an Outstanding Junior Recipient in 2015.
  • Autumn Zwiernik will graduate from Laingsburg High School in 2019. She conducted her research on the Bahamas and how to minimize and sustain through the impacts of climate volatility there. Zwiernik is also a member of Michigan FFA and Girls Scouts. She represented the 2015 WFP GYI Michigan delegates on WJR’s Greening of the Great Lakes radio program.
  • Raegan Gembarski is a junior at North Huron High School. Through her research, Gembarski outline and offered suggestions for approaching sustainable agriculture in Jamaica. Her mentor, Joseph Ankley, North Huron High School’s agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, spoke to the value of his students’ participation in WFP MIYI. In addition to FFA, Gembarski also participates in the science fair.

In October, these six delegates, along with six mentors, will attend the Borlaug Dialogues in Des Moines, Iowa. It is during these dialogues that the 2015 Laureate, Sir Frazel Hasan Abed, will officially be awarded the World Food Prize for his work with BRAC, the world’s largest non-government organization. All MI WFP GYI delegates will hear presentations and panels for leaders around the world, participate in local food systems site visits and round out their time at the Global Youth Institute where they will present their revised research to a national audience of peers and experts. Like Deputy Secretary Harden, Sir Frazel also recognizes the vital importance of positively engaging and empowering women to lift communities out of poverty.

At Michigan 4-H, we are ecstatic that the six young women mentioned above will be representing our state and returning from WFP GYI as leaders and assets to Michigan with unique perspectives, drive and expanded worldviews.

Please explore these links for more information on how to be engaged in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute and other Michigan 4-H global and civic leadership opportunities. The 2016 WFP MIYI will be held Thursday, May 12, 2016. You can contact me at schul430@anr.msu.edu for more information on next year’s program.

Did you find this article useful?