Youth leadership opportunities: World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute and beyond

Learn about the Michigan Youth Institute and how your participation can open doors to some amazing opportunities.

Francine Barchett at the 2015 Michigan Youth Institute.
Francine Barchett at the 2015 Michigan Youth Institute.

This year brought the second annual World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute to Michigan State University (MSU). This pre-college program is a one-day event held on campus where high school youth present research and recommendations on how to solve key global challenges, connect with other student leaders from across Michigan, interact with global leaders in science, agriculture, industry and policy, meet innovative people working to improve food security around the world and more! As MSU is the home to food security research and technologies such as the Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center, the C.S. Mott Center for Regional Food Systems as well as the Center for Global Connections in Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, it only made sense for the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Michigan FFA to partner with MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H on this program.

Through personal research and public presentation, on-campus immersion visits, faculty question and answer panel, and discussions with MSU department representatives, youth participants are given the opportunity to engage with global food security and food access at many levels. Participants’ evaluations show that World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute, on its own, is a very engaging and powerful experience. That said, there are additional opportunities participants in the Michigan Youth Institute are eligible to take part in.

A delegation of youth is chosen from those participating in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in order to extend their learning and engagement on the topic of global food security. Michigan Global Youth Institute delegates join over 300 other outstanding high school students and mentors from across the United States and around the world for an exciting, three-day program to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates and the more than 1,000 global leaders from 75 countries attending the World Food Prize’s annual international symposium In Iowa come October.

Additionally, participants in the Michigan Youth Institute (when they start college) are eligible to apply for the USDA Wallace-Carver Fellowship. This fellowship places alumni of World Food Prize youth institutes across the nation in paid research experiences with USDA facilities. Fellows work on projects related to agricultural policy, food and nutrition programs, rural development, as well as field- and lab- based research.

For those youth selected as delegates representing Michigan at the Global Youth Institute, there is also an additional opportunity. The prestigious Borlaug-Ruan International Internship provides high school students (grade 11 and higher) an all-expenses-paid, eight-week, hands-on experience working with world-renowned scientists and policymakers at leading research centers around the globe.

At the beginning of May, it was announced that Michigan's very own Francine Barchett would be one of World Food Prize's 24 teens selected to be a 2016 Borlaug-Ruan intern. Barchett, originally from Benton Harbor, Michigan, is currently in Patancheru, India, assisting with research at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. We caught up with Barchett before she left to get her thoughts on the opportunity and will share that in Part 2 of this series, “One Michigan 4-Hers trek to making a global difference.”

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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