Global Agriculture

World Food Prize Foundation Selects Students for Distinguished Borlaug-Ruan International Internship

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06 June 2024, US: The World Food Prize Foundation announced today that it will send 14 students abroad for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program at renowned international research centers and NGOs this summer.

These exceptional students hail from Iowa, 10 other U.S. states and China. The 2024 Borlaug-Ruan interns will delve into issues related to global food security, sustainability and development during eight-week internships at leading international research centers and development organizations in Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru and Taiwan.

This is the 26th year of this unique program. Inaugurated in 1998 by Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan Sr., this initiative enables high school and early career college students to engage in projects alongside esteemed experts at top agricultural research and development institutions worldwide. Through this program, students gain first hand exposure to scientific research, development projects and policy making related to critical global food security issues. They actively contribute to projects, immersing themselves in lab work, field work, data collection, qualitative research, interviews, policy analysis and more. 

“Having completed two weeks of my internship at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Nairobi, Kenya, I am gaining a deeper understanding of the region’s need for improved nutritional research and resources,” said Vivien Huang, Borlaug-Ruan intern. “My hope is to make meaningful contributions to addressing the issue of malnutrition in Kenya, knowing that even small efforts could help make a difference.”

The program has grown significantly over the past 26 years, initially sending just two students overseas. At the culmination of the 26th year, 431 emerging scientists will have taken part in the internship, which has had a profound influence on their educational paths and career decisions.

“I’m truly inspired by the passion these young changemakers bring to the table when it comes to tackling world food security issues,” said Mashal Husain, Chief Operating Officer, World Food Prize Foundation. “The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship places determined individuals in key global centers for food security, empowering and encouraging them to make a difference in the agricultural sector. These aspiring scientists then develop invaluable skills and the resilience needed for future success.”

Dr. Borlaug and Ruan, Sr. envisioned and established an environment where young students participating in hands-on hunger-fighting research through the youth education programs of the World Food Prize could be inspired to pursue academic and professional paths in agricultural science, food technology, sustainability, international development and natural resource conservation.

The interns are involved in a multitude of projects such as: agricultural development in rural communities; closing production and distribution ‘vegetable gaps;’ implementation of poverty alleviation policies; expansion of food security in semi-arid tropics; comprehensive internal support for small farmers; and research on plant biofortification and diversity.

Any student who is at least 17 years old and has participated in, volunteered for or has had other involvement with a World Food Prize Foundation youth program is eligible to apply.

“Sustainability has always ignited a fervent drive within me, fueling my passion for policy and research. I am deeply grateful to the World Food Prize Foundation for entrusting me with the role of a Borlaug-Ruan International Intern, granting me the chance to delve into these vital realms,” said Saanvi Ram, a senior at Hempstead High School, originally from Dubuque, Iowa.

Borlaug-Ruan Interns will return to Des Moines and attend the 30th annual Global Youth Institute in October. During this week-long academic conference, students have the opportunity to engage with their peers from across the world while deepening their understanding of global food security, agriculture and sustainability. Additionally, student delegates will present their research to global leaders, participate in interactive workshops, attend the Borlaug Dialogue and more.

The 2024 World Food Prize Foundation Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program is supported by AgriSompo. “AgriSompo proudly supports the young professionals who are helping solve food and agriculture issues of the future through their participation in the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship,” said Marji Guyler-Alaniz, President, AgriSompo International; Chief Operating Officer, AgriSompo. “We believe it’s an essential program for learning, innovating and expanding possibilities for how the global agriculture industry can feed more people with fewer resources. AgriSompo is excited to follow the progress of this year’s interns as they embark on what we hope will be lifelong, rewarding careers.”

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