A Global Experience in Des Moines

guest post by Mikayla Sullivan

I am an ISU freshman majoring in Global Resource Systems, and two weeks ago I attended the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, which is a week-long event of recognizing people in the field of agriculture who are doing exceptional things. This year the three laureates and recipients of the World Food Prize were Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton, Dr Robert Fraley, and Dr. Marc Van Montagu. These three scientists founded, developed, and have been applying biotechnology to the field of agriculture, allowing farmers to improve their crop yields through pest and drought resistant plants.

Attending this conference allowed me to listen to many fascinating people who are working in the field of agriculture as well as find out about all the different subsets within this field as well as the problems they are trying to solve. I had the chance to listen to Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Great Britain, and Howard G. Buffett, a renowned entrepreneur, discuss the necessity of collaboration within different fields and the importance that small holder farmers have in crop production. I also had the chance to listen to Julie Borlaug, the granddaughter of Norman Borlaug, speak about the important role youth can play in helping to solve this global problem. All of these speakers were so passionate about what they were speaking about, you couldn’t help but be interested and want to get involved in all the different aspects of agriculture.

One of the other amazing opportunities this conference had was that you were able to have meals with the other people attending the conference. On the last day I had the pleasure of having breakfast with three of the commissioners of Agriculture from Nigeria. To be sitting around a table discussing the pros and cons of site-specific soil testing to create the correct nutrient blend for your soil (which will allow you to vastly improve your yields) was mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe that I would have such an incredible opportunity to talk to people who are working so hard and making great strides in the field of agriculture.

SullivanFrom left to right:
Mikayla Sullivan (me!)

Hajiya Baraka Sani, Commissioner of Agriculture Kano State
Misan Ukubeyinje, Commissioner of Agriculture Delta State
Ndubuisi Menakaya, Commissioner of Agriculture Anambra State

I would highly recommend that if you are interested in agriculture (and, really, even if you think you aren’t) you should look into attending the World Food Prize next year. I was able to go with a group of students through IAAS- the International Association of Agriculture and Related Sciences group on campus. Attending the conference was a great way to network and meet people who could later help you launch your career, and at the very least you had the chance to discuss global problems with people who shared their perspective with you. This allowed me to gain a more worldly view on different problems that are affecting everyone around the world.


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