Teens invited to participate in global fight against hunger
The New Jersey Youth Institute, hosted by the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, is a transformative experience for high school students. Rutgers welcomed 130 students, 27 teachers/chaperones, and 23 expert judges comprised of Rutgers staff/faculty/industry professionals to the Cook Student Center on Cook Campus on March 6.
“This year’s New Jersey Youth Institute was the largest attended event to date and the most diverse,” said assistant dean of recruitment and advising Serafina Smith. “We are thrilled to see students who registered from northern, central and southern NJ as well as from outside of the state from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York.”
During this day-long program, students learned about critical global issues, networked with local leaders, engaged in hands-on-activities, and explored exciting ways to make a difference in New Jersey and around the world, becoming effective change agents in their own communities, and tomorrow’s scientific humanitarian leaders. Students who participate in the New Jersey Youth Institute earn recognition as a Borlaug Scholar and qualify for internships and further opportunities.
“Many of the students have never conducted research or presented in roundtables with experts and other peers. This experience exposes students to all those things and more,” added Smith.
The World Food Prize statewide youth institute is an innovative model that seeks to engage and inspire high school students to pursue STEM career paths relating to agriculture and global food security. This program is open to any New Jersey and tri-state high school student (grades 9-12) interested in food security issues. To participate, students research a global issue related to agriculture and food insecurity and must submit a research paper, which is evaluated by the World Food Prize Board of Reviewers.
The March 6 event opened with an introduction by Laura Lawson, dean of Academic Programs, and three of the 2019 Global Youth Institute alumni, Michael Laumbach, Union County Vo. Tech School, Olivia Simon, Freehold Township High School, and Dannely Gomez, Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology. These alumni inspired attendees with their personal experience and participation in the New Jersey Youth Institute.
Following were welcome addresses given by Dean Lawson and Keegan Kautzky, director of National Education Programs, World Food Prize Foundation.
Students engaged in a variety of break-out activities, presented their research papers to a panel of expert judges, participated in workshops and roundtable sessions, as well as a meal packing immersion activity to benefit middle school kids in Roosevelt High School in NJ. Over 200 bags were filled with healthy snacks as well as love notes and encouraging quotes inside and outside the bags. A Rutgers Info Fair introduced attendees to opportunities at the university, including interacting with collegiate members of the Rutgers Companion Animal Club.
Research presentations focused on how to solve key global challenges such as water scarcity, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, animal health, plants and sustainable agriculture. Students presented their solutions, responded to questions from judges and fellow students and participated in small group discussions with statewide experts, global leaders in science, industry and policy, as well as professors and college students in New Jersey working to end hunger.
After lunch and fun raffles, assistant dean of recruitment and advising Serafina Smith introduced keynote speaker Enobong (Anna) Branch, vice chancellor for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement and professor of sociology at Rutgers-New Brunswick. Vice Chancellor Branch spoke on the topic of Diversity in Science: Using Civic Engagement to Drive Change.
Participants from this event will be invited to represent New Jersey at the Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Iowa. Considered the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture,” the World Food Prize emphasizes the challenges of ensuring that all people have access to a nutritious and sustainable food supply, while highlighting the accomplishments of those individuals who are working to improve global food security.
At this global event in Iowa, students from across the U.S. and abroad gather to study and write about a pressing global food issue and present their papers to distinguished global leaders and fellow students. While at this international symposium, students also have opportunities to attend trainings/educational programs, go on field trips, and participate in a team service project. All expenses paid for participants and provided by the World Food Prize, Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and donors.
The New Jersey Youth Institute is hosted by Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences with the generous support of the New Jersey FFA, New Jersey 4-H, Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH), Student-Origanized Rutgers Against Hunger (SORAH), and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Visit the NJ Youth Institute of the World Food Prize webpage for instructions, sample papers, evaluation rubric and registration, and for more information.