By Bailey Gitzel
I am a grade 12 student and live on a small mixed farm near Graysville, MB. I have always been very passionate about agriculture and I plan to pursue it in my future.
This past October, I had the incredible experience of being one of two students who represented Manitoba at this year’s World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. I was one of roughly 200 student delegates from around the world selected to participate in the three day Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation.
During my three days in Iowa, I was able to attend sessions at the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. I listened to many international experts speak about global food security and how we can make it possible to feed 9 billion people. I also had the chance to personally meet many experts such as Robb Fraley of Monsanto.
In addition to attending sessions on topics such as precision agriculture and aquaculture, I was able to watch Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of BRAC in Bangladesh accept the 2015 World Food Prize.
One of the main highlights of the experience came during the Oxfam Hunger Banquet. In the past, when I’ve read statistics about hunger, they had little meaning to me. But during the banquet, participants were asked to step into someone else’s shoes for one meal. During this exercise, I was a part of the poorest of the poor, and all I ate was a handful of rice… from a bowl in which more than 75 people were sharing. I sat on the floor eating this rice as others served themselves rice and chickpeas and the wealthiest participants in this exercise enjoyed a three-course meal. I sat there and my view on life changed. I gained a new perspective, and the hunger statistics I’ve read about are no longer just words to me. I was able to see how, in many parts of the world, people struggle to eat enough food every day. I also realized how privileged I am to have never gone hungry in my life.
It was an amazing experience being able to connect with leaders from around the world who have helped, and continue to help, make a positive impact on global food security. It was so valuable to hear so many stories of how one person can help change so many lives. I may just be a farm kid from rural Manitoba, but it is my generation who will be feeding the future people of the world and I want to help.
Each October in Des Moines, Iowa, the world’s brightest minds focused on advancing the quality, quantity and availability of food come together for the World Food Prize symposium. As part of this celebration of progress and look toward the future, 200 exceptional high school students from around the world are selected to attend the Global Youth Institute, occurring in tandem with the symposium. During this three-day event, students interact with and learn from past and present World Food Prize Laureates and a variety of experts, all while gaining hands-on industry experience.
With support from Monsanto Canada, among other sponsors, Bailey Gitzel, a high school student from Manitoba, Canada, attended this past year’s Global Youth Institute.