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Illinois student delegation participates in World Food Prize

Published December 4, 2017
Illinois students at World Food Prize

Nineteen undergraduate students from the University of Illinois who are passionate about food security attended the annual World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa during October.

This year’s student delegation to the prestigious three-day event known as “the premier conference in the world on global agriculture” was sponsored by the ACES Office of International Programs and ACES Office of Academic Programs.

 “Our undergraduate delegation exhibited diversity in both academic concentration and cultural background. Whether be from the southside of Chicago or southern Brazil, all were united to further expand their understanding of global food security,” said Thomas Poole, senior in crop sciences and founder and president of Unify, a student organization focused on food security, who led the student delegation along with Xavier Morgan, senior in agricultural communications.

Additional vignettes below, provided by some of the students, recap the event and their lasting impressions.  

Andrew Peterson-Lipp, a sophomore in agricultural and consumer economics, said,

“This event gives the opportunity for real discussion to occur between the big and small players in the agricultural industry, from a farmer with one hectare of land in rural Africa to a corporation responsible for providing food for billions of people.”  

Cameron McCoy, a sophomore in crop sciences, was attending the event for the second time. He was most inspired by one of the speakers who was a small shareholder farmer in Nigeria:

“She was a qualified veterinarian who had established a school in her small village that is based on teaching three fundamental keys to success in life: time management through farming, the value of money, and the importance of saving the money they earn from their farm. She approached agriculture in a way that will profoundly change the way children of that village value money and farming.”

Kealie Vogel, an environmental science major who has focused her undergraduate research on agroforestry said,

“Several topics discussed during the Borlaug Dialog -- relationships among conservation, trade, and agricultural productivity in lower- and middle-income countries, the impacts of fertilizer use around the globe, and new methods for climate-proofing smallholder farms in Sub-Saharan Africa -- served as fascinating glimpses into the intersection between environmental science and food science.”

Michelle O’Rourke, an international exchange student from Ireland studying food science, noted how event he lunches were designed to make an impression:

“It was a light three course lunch, all with soy products incorporated. We ate tofu salad for starter, tofu mashed potato with the main and soy yoghurt with the dessert. It was an innovative and tasty way to introduce soy to people that may not have previously considered soy as a viable food source.”

Beyond the packed and informative program, the students had the opportunity to learn from each other.

Hayley Nagelberg, a freshman in animal sciences, said,

“The experience to spend three days with students from all across the college of ACES, and see how each of our interests and future career plans can work together to come up with unique and innovative solutions to world hunger was inspiring.”

This was the second year the ACES offices co-sponsored a delegation to attend this event. Read more about the World Food Prize here.