Mt. Pleasant student selected as World Food Prize youth delegate

Mt. Pleasant junior Tristen Davis will be attending panels, conferences, and award ceremonies for the global youth institute, via Zoom, this week. (Contributed photo)
Mt. Pleasant junior Tristen Davis will be attending panels, conferences, and award ceremonies for the global youth institute, via Zoom, this week. (Contributed photo)

MT. PLEASANT — Tristen Davis, a Mt. Pleasant Community High School junior, has been selected to be a delegate to the Global Youth Institute, a prestigious honor for a high school student.

The Institute is part of the World Food Prize organization, which recognizes those who have “increased the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.”

Due to COVID-19, the World Food Prize conference is being held over the communication platform Zoom, it is usually held in Des Moines, this week.

Davis is one of the hundreds of students selected for the Global Youth Institute. To apply to be a part of the institute, students must write a research essay on hunger, food or water insecurity in a foreign country.

After writing the essay, students like Davis must present their papers to the Iowa Youth Institute, which is held at Iowa State University every April. Like the conference, the presentation was held virtually this year. Davis was one of several students selected to move forward at the Iowa Youth Institute.

The delegates are then able to participate in the Global Youth Institute where they participate in the Borlaug Dialogues and other activities involved in the World Food prize conference.

Davis said The World Food Prize is a weeklong conference that discusses the issues of hunger, food and water security in the world. This week the event was kicked off by former Vice President Al Gore and King of Jordan Abdullah II.

“A lot of it is more so a conversation and addressing the issues of Food security within different countries,” Davis said.

Davis is interested in the opportunities the conference offers, between the exchange of ideas, to meeting brilliant academics, to internship opportunities.

“I’m excited to apply for the international internship, the Borlaug internship, because through this I’ve discovered that I have an interest in genetics and that’s what I kind of wanted to go into,” Davis said.

The Borlaug internship is a program of 36 different internships related to agriculture sciences around the world. It is a six- to eight-week internship held over the summer in foreign countries around the world.

Mt. Pleasant has a long history of sending students overseas to participate in the program. Graduates Jack Pieper, Ellie Conrad, Shaleen Theingamany and Claire Holtkamp have all been part of the program interning in countries like India, Costa Rica, and China.

Students from the district are often introduced to the program by the secondary talented and gifted coordinator, Jennifer Stater, through her accelerated human geography course.

As part of a project, students must write a research essay for the institute, but they do not have to submit it to the Iowa Youth Institute. However, many students do participate and present at the Institute. These students oftentimes make it all the way to the Global Youth Institute, Borlaug-Ruan internships, and some even to the USDA Carver Fellowship.

Stater has seen a rise in popularity in the program throughout the years, specifically in the high school, and looks forward to years ahead when the program continues to grow and attract more students.

“Hopefully, we can get more and more students that are involved because it is an experience unlike anything you can get here,” Stater said.