Andrew Smith represents Michigan at 2016 World Food Prize Global Youth Institute

Six outstanding youth leaders were selected to represent Michigan at the Global Youth Institute, where they shared their global hunger fighting research and ideas. This series highlights their stories.

Andrew Smith (right) at the 2016 World Food Prize Global Youth Institute with Liam Condon (center), President, Crop Science and Board Member, Bayer AG.

Andrew Smith (right) at the 2016 World Food Prize Global Youth Institute with Liam Condon (center), President, Crop Science and Board Member, Bayer AG.

What could be done to help address widespread food insecurity and the effects of global climate change in the country of Haiti? One high school student from Bay Port, Michigan, has some ideas, and recently traveled to an international symposium where he met and shared ideas with other youth and experts from around the world. Andrew Smith, a sophomore at Laker High School in Pigeon, Michigan, traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 12-15, 2016, to participate in the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, where he shared his research and recommendations for addressing critical issues related to global food security.

The World Food Prize was founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug to recognize and inspire great achievements in improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world. This year’s World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium focused on the theme “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” and gave special emphasis on issues such as the crucial role of nutrition in global food security, leadership, biofortification, conflict and infrastructure. Global Youth Institute students and teachers had the opportunity to take part in symposium sessions with the top minds and foremost leaders in global agriculture, food and development.

Smith was selected as one of Michigan’s youth delegates to the 2016 World Food Prize after writing a research paper on the topic of climate volatility in Haiti. He presented his research at the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute, which was held on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, on May 12, 2016. The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute is a pre-college program that engages Michigan youth as active global citizens in understanding and solving global food security challenges and provides an opportunity to explore academic and career pathways which can contribute to ending global hunger and malnutrition. The World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute is coordinated by Michigan 4-H in partnership with the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, MSU Extension, Michigan FFA and the World Food Prize Foundation.

Smith decided to participate in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute after being encouraged by his FFA advisor. The link between climate change and food security is an interest of Smith’s, and he sees practical ways that people can engage in the issue.

“When I discuss and ponder food insecurity, climate change is always the first to come into mind,” said Smith. “I find it interesting because it is a topic that everyone in the world can help improve. It can be as simple as carpooling to turning off lights. This combined effort forms a community to help find a difference, an aspect I really enjoy.”

Based on the quality of his research paper and presentation at in the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute, Smith was selected to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute as one of Michigan’s six youth delegates attending the international symposium. At the 2016 World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, Smith joined over 200 other outstanding high school students and mentors from 31 U.S. states and foreign countries for an exciting three-day program to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates and the more than 1,500 global leaders from 60 countries attending the World Food Prize’s 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. Smith and the other World Food Prize Global Youth Institute delegates learned about innovative, impactful and cutting edge topics related to global food security and nutrition by attending presentations and panel discussions led by global leaders in international development, policy, science and industry.

At the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, youth delegates also toured world-renowned research facilities, packed meals for Haiti disaster relief efforts, participated in an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet and networked with other young people who share an interest in addressing topics related to global food security. Delegates were also able to watch the 2016 World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony, where the 2016 World Food Prize laureates Maria Andrade, Howarth Bouis, Jan Low and Robert Mwanga, were honored for their work in “the development and implementation of biofortification, breeding critical vitamins and micronutrients into staple crops, thereby dramatically reducing malnutrition, stunting and ‘hidden hunger’ for millions.” Through the combined efforts of the four laureates, over 10 million people are now positively impacted by biofortified crops, with a potential of several hundred million more having their nutrition and health enhanced in the coming decades.

Andrew Smith (left) with other delegates at the 2016 World Food Prize Global Youth InstituteAs one of Michigan’s 2016 delegates, Smith described the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute as a transformative experience. “The World Food Prize Global Youth Institute is an event that changes you,” he said. “The event opened my eyes to the world around me, and made the world a much smaller place.”

One of the most impactful experiences for Smith at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute was meeting and hearing from people from across the United States and from other countries. “I met many people from around the country, and around the world, that I would have never even attempted to socialize with if it was not for this program,” he said. “Every time I sat down at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table, I met someone new or heard an amazingly inspiring speech.”

Smith sees many positive outcomes when youth become active, engaged citizens in learning about and addressing global issues. “It is essential for teens to realize the big picture of our global community,” he said. “We cannot afford to be narrow-minded when it comes to the world. An expansive mind means realizing the problems in our world, being more thankful and less selfish, more cooperation among all people, wanting to help others in need, and an overall stronger global community.”

And what does Smith recommend to other youth who want to get engaged in these global issues?

“I would say take up any challenge, no matter how big or small,” he recommends. “The best way to make a positive impact is if you try everything that crosses your path. Through my experience with the World Food Prize program, I met so many people, and was so inspired to making a positive difference in my life and world. Get out of your comfort zone, and be on the lookout for any opportunity that comes your way.”

The next World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute will be May 11, 2017, at MSU. Visit the Michigan 4-H website to learn more about the World Food Prize Michigan Youth Institute.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H positively impacted individuals and communities in 2015 can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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