By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Sarah Marketon is a young woman with a cause: feed the world.
The junior from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) High School recently returned from the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, IA. The institute took place Oct. 14 to 16.
Jim Weninger, agricultural instructor and FFA advisor at HLWW, informed Marketon of the opportunity for the institute and acted as her teacher-mentor throughout the process.
Marketon was selected to participate in the institute after writing an essay, which she presented at the Minnesota Youth Institute at the University of Minnesota.
The 2010 essay topic was “Solutions for the World’s Smallholders.” Marketon’s essay was about humanitarian aid and food relief in Iraq.
The Minnesota Youth Institute took place Sept. 18. There were 12 participants vying for a spot at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute.
At the day-long event, participating high school students presented their essays and had small group discussions with global leaders in science, industry, and policy.
Students also toured the University of Minnesota and met innovative researchers, professors, and college students working to end hunger and poverty and improve food security around the world.
At the end of the Minnesota Youth Institute, Marketon was one of six students chosen to participate in this year’s World Food Prize Global Youth Institute.
At the institute, Marketon had the opportunity to meet Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates, discussing pressing food security and agricultural issues with international experts.
There were also a number of events that students participated in during the three-day institute to raise awareness of world food issues.
One of the events that Marketon participated in was the “Hunger Banquet.”
As students arrived at the banquet, each drew a card. The cards were three different colors. The color of the card that was drawn determined what social class you were in: lower, middle, or upper.
Students who drew a card signifying they were part of the lower-class sat on the floor. They received no utensils, and were given a bowl of rice and a glass of water to drink.
Those in the middle-class were to sit on chairs and were given a fork. Their meal consisted of a bowl of rice with beans and a glass of water.
The students who chose cards signifying they were part of the upper-class were treated to a three-course meal with all the trimmings.
They had silverware and plates. The upper-class meal consisted of a salad, chicken, and cheesecake for dessert.
Marketon was part of the lower-class for this event.
When Marketon was asked if the students who were part of the lower- or middle-class were able to eat more food after the lesson was over, she replied, “There was a social afterwards with chips and a few other things, but no.”
She continued, saying, “It was a good experience, though. People can sit and talk about poverty and world hunger, but until you’re actually in that situation where your actual meal (is just rice), it really puts things into perspective.”
The students at the institute also packaged food that was sent to Tanzania.
A highlight of the institute for Marketon was being able to meet Noel Vietmeyer, who is the author of the Borlaug series, which tells the history of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug.
She received a signed copy of one of his books and had her picture taken with him.
Another highlight for Marketon was listening to one of this year’s World Food Prize Laureates, Jo Luck, chief executive officer for Heifer International.
Heifer International is a non-profit organization which not only provides livestock and seeds to people in Third World countries, but also teaches them to raise and care for them.
“For me, personally, this was the most interesting, “ said Marketon. “Someday I want to go into agricultural education; not to be a typical teacher in a regular classroom, but to go to other places and help people learn.”
The students at the institute also took a tour of Kemin Industries, which researches ways to preserve food and make it last longer in a healthy, nutritious way.
At the end of the three days, students went to Pioneer Hi-Bred International in Johnston, IA, where they were separated into 13 groups and met with experts on global food issues.
Each student gave a quick summary of the paper they wrote and ideas on how to solve the problem covered in the paper.
The students discussed the papers amongst themselves and the experts, which caused the students to think differently on the problem, said Marketon.
Each group of students then formed a plan on how to approach the issue of world hunger.