Each year in April, high school students across the state of Iowa are invited to attend the day-long Iowa Youth Institute (IYI) held at Iowa State University. Put on by the World Food Prize, the IYI allows eighth through twelfth graders the chance to explore ideas on combating global hunger and poverty.

Each school in Iowa is guaranteed one student spot to attend the IYI. To qualify, students must submit a paper on a topic related to global food security and the impact on a developing country of their choice.

This year, five IRIS students received invitations to attend the IYI. Maryam (Pakistan), May Amor (Philippines), Lydia (Kenya), Lakshmi (India), and Ifada (Indonesia) presented their paper topics to small groups before having a roundtable discussion.

This year’s paper topic was on an environmental issue within a country and possible solutions. Maryam talked about the water quality in Pakistan and the issue of unclean water for many Pakistani people. For her solution, Maryam brought up the idea of funding for small, portable water systems that would not only help but would also be significantly inexpensive to obtain.

Lydia discussed the issues surrounding public education in Kenya. She began by informing her group of the recent defunding of public education across Kenya, and proposed the government not only return to funding public education but also make it available for all children to attend.

Other topics and possible solutions discussed included issues such as food insecurity, poverty and reproductive health rights.

In addition to the roundtable discussions, students also got placed into immersion groups based on interests and then went on field trips specific to their groups. Some students went to the horse barn on ISU’s campus to learn more about animal care while others went to a nearby field and wooded area to learn how to identify soil and potentially harmful things that could affect the soil.

This year’s IYI also featured a number of guest speakers, including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, ISU President Wendy Wintersteen as well as the President of the World Food Prize, Kenneth M. Quinn.

Ifada says she’s thankful to experience the IYI and be a part of this larger, global discussion.

“We’re going to need young leaders at the table to meet our food security goals by 2050,” Ifada said. “I’m proud to have represented my home country of Indonesia and my high school [at the IYI].”

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