World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute lets teens find solutions to local and global challenges

The fourth annual World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute, held May 10, 2018, seeks to inspire and prepare the next generation of global leaders to end world hunger and poverty.

Youth participants at the 2017 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute. Photo by MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Youth participants at the 2017 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute. Photo by MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

As millions across the globe deal with food insecurity, the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute offers young people an opportunity to be part of the solution. Nearly one in nine people on this planet do not have access at all times to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, and this problem will only continue to grow if we do not address the critical factors that lead to food insecurity.

There are many interconnected issues that lead to food insecurity, and the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute is an opportunity to explore and help solve these vital issues. Young people have innovative ideas and a passion for solving problems that can and will make a difference if we provide them with the right tools and opportunities.

The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute is a collaborative effort of Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-HMichigan FFA, the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the World Food Prize. The event provides Michigan youth with the opportunity to share their ideas related to global food security with MSU experts and other Michigan youth while learning how MSU faculty, staff, researchers and students are working to address issues related to food security and hunger.

The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute partners hope that as a result, program participants will be inspired to pursue education that will allow them to apply their passion for global issues in impactful careers related to global food security.

"I became aware of how ensuring food security is integral to providing access to education, eliminating poverty and ensuring a more equitable future for millions of people across the world,” said Neha Middela, a participant in the 2017 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute. “By being aware of global issues and potential solutions, teens can gain additional perspective on potential career opportunities. Being conscientious of the world around them will allow teens to impact their local, national and global communities to the fullest extent, both now and in the future.”

The May 10, 2018, program will be held simultaneously at two locations for the first time: MSU’s campus in East Lansing, Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham, Michigan. This new update to the program will allow participants from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas to interact with each other virtually while making the program more accessible to students across the entire state.

To participate, youth should be in grades 8 -12 and register by April 1. As part of the application process, youth prepare a three-page research paper about a global issue concerning hunger and poverty. Paper writing instructions and resources are available to students on the Student Paper Resources page of the World Food Prize website.

At the event, youth present and discuss the results of their research with other participants and experts. They also participate in interactive activities to explore research and other current work that seeks to address food security and access challenges and engage with area experts to discuss solutions to global hunger and poverty.

The top-performing students in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute will be selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa, in October. Held in conjunction with the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, youth who attend the Global Youth Institute have the opportunity to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize laureates and participate in dialogues with the world’s leading experts and policymakers in the area of global food security.

"I was able to interact with incredible youth from around the country and the world,” said Nathan Laurenz, a participant in the 2016 World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute. “I met some of the global leaders of agriculture and listened to some of the most knowledgeable and influential people I have ever met. The experience opened my eyes to the problems and solutions of feeding the world.”

For more information, visit the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute website or contact Brian Wibby, event coordinator, at or 906-315-2662.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

Did you find this article useful?