MMCRU’s Bush attends Global Youth Institute
DES MOINES — A class assignment became a life-changing opportunity for MMCRU senior, Katie Bush, when her paper on Haiti’s water and sanitation practices earned her a ticket to the 25th annual Global Youth Institute in Des Moines, Oct. 17-20.
“In order to participate in the program, students research and write a paper on a topic affecting food security within a specified country and provide recommendations on how to better the lives of a typical family in the country,” stated the events’ press release. “Once accepted, students are invited to attend the three-day event and engage in hands-on sessions and service-learning projects that allow them to reflect on their unique role in addressing challenges related to agriculture, policy, science, industry, and hunger relief efforts both in the U.S. and abroad.”
But before Bush’s paper could be considered for the Global Youth Institute, her work had to be reviewed at the state level, an experience that sparked a new passion for the student.
“When I got accepted into the state institute, meeting their experts, it helped me realize this was something I was good at,” Bush shared. “This was something I can do to help feed others and help them figure out how to live sustainably.”
After the state conference, Bush had to revise her paper for the Global Youth Institute. Once that was done, she was on her way to join 210 other students from across 27 states and territories, as well as other countries for the event, held concurrently with the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium.
“It’s an amazing experience; it doesn’t matter if you’re a student participant or an adult going to the symposium,” Bush stated. “Seeing other people my age coming together to solve this issue was humbling. That was my favorite part — to come together with other people and modify our ideas to find solutions.”
The students listened to discussions and talks by agriculture leaders across the globe, including 2018 World Food Prize Laureates, Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro; the Honorable Mercedez Araoz, Vice President of Peru; his Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria; and Dr. Louise Fresco, President of the Executive Board, Wageningen University & Research Center.
They also toured local facilities across the agriculture field before presenting their own papers to a panel of experts.
“It was stressful,” Bush admitted. “I’m just a high school senior and this is their job.”
Regardless of the stress, the experience continued to build on the spark created at the state conference.
“Meeting people from Canada and Kenya and Uganda, that helped me realize how big the issue of world hunger is, not just in our little corner of northwest Iowa,” Bush said. “It was a real eye-opener. Instead of looking just at northwest Iowa, it helped me see what agriculture looks like worldwide. It also strengthened my love of agriculture. It brought a whole new level to my understanding of agriculture.”
Bush already planned to go into agriculture, having been accepted to Dordt College.
“My family is a seventh generation agriculture family,” she explained. “I’m not sure when I decided, but I know that since the age of five, this was always something I wanted to do. I’ve always been so sure that I wanted to do agriculture and nothing has really appealed to me the way agriculture has.”
While she hasn’t chosen a specific major yet, Bush stated the nature of agriculture is what motivated her to pursue the career field.
“Agriculture is unlike any other field,” she said. “It’s a family field. It doesn’t matter what part of agriculture you’re in, you’re still helping the world.”
The conference only proved to confirm her passion.
“Once the experts gave their input, it was like ‘this is something I could really do,’” she shared.
Bush added the experience motivated her to be more intentional about her actions, asking herself questions like, “Is this something that can help someone else? Do my actions help solve an issues? Is there a way for me to do something here that can help something elsewhere?”
For other students interested in agriculture, specifically pursuing the Global Youth Institute, Bush offered one simple piece of advice.
“It is super stressful to write a long paper on a topic you might not know too much about, but getting there and doing it, it changes you and changes your way of thinking,” she said. “To those kids who might want to apply, I just say jump in and do it. It’s overwhelming but so rewarding.”