By Tamara Wolfe, Agriculture Awareness Intern, Muhammad Shaikh and Summer Norman
Each year, the World Food Prize Foundation invites 200 high school students from around the world to attend the Global Youth Institute. Selected students, and their teacher/mentors, travel to Des Moines, Iowa, in mid-October to attend this exciting three-day event. Students who attend the Global Youth Institute have the opportunity to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates, and discuss pressing food security and agricultural issues with international experts. This year, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture sent two lucky students: Muhammad Shaikh and Summer Norman.
“This was by far one of the best trips I have ever been on and it is definitely a lifetime opportunity you would not receive again. I learned so much from the other students, as they were from all over the world and brought different views and ideas,” stated Muhammad Shaikh.
“The most memorable opportunity was participating in the Oxfam Hunger Banquet. We were each given an economical status such as lower class, middle class, and upper class.” said Summer Norman. “Students in the upper class got to eat a fancy candle-lit meal, while people in the lower class ate rice and beans. I was given a lower-class status, and was given one giant bowl of rice and several tiny bowls. Participants in my group filled our own tiny bowls with rice and ate with our hands. This really opened my eyes to all the struggles people around the world face.”
To earn their spots at the Global Food Institute, Shaikh and Norman prepared a research paper on the theme of global food security. Shaikh’s paper focused on food security issues in Somalia and discussed potential solutions such as genetically engineered crops and urban farming. Norman’s paper focused on food security issues in Central African Republic and discussed solutions like fertilizer use to increase yields, pesticide use to control weeds and insects, and education on modern farming practices.
“In research and trip preparation, I got to learn about agricultural issues in not only Somalia but Saskatchewan and Canada. My eyes were opened to a vast world of agriculture - the technology, successes, challenges, and preparing to feed the future world. I learned a lot about agriculture during this event. Agriculture is SO much more than just a farmer with a tractor and a large parcel of land,” Shaikh said.
“Overall the trip was very memorable. I met many inspiring people and heard many heart filled stories. I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend such an incredible event. It will forever be a life changing conference for me,” Norman said.
“I plan to share what I learned and experienced with fellow classes/students through presentations and groups. Now that I am more aware of global food scarcity issues, I plan on getting more involved in my own community to hopefully start addressing the issue of food scarcity right here in Regina. I will be able to use my new skills in future classes, jobs, and community involvement!” said Shaikh
Funding for the Global Youth Institute was provided through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Experiences like this encourage Saskatchewan youth to consider the many career opportunities available in modern agriculture. Developing the leadership capacity of young people, we prepare them to take on leadership roles in other industry and empower them to build public trust in agriculture.