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Mississippi high school students visit MSU to help solve world hunger

by: Vanessa Beeson

Mississippi high school students visit MSU to help solve world hunger
Beth Wynn

High school students from across the state spent Friday [March 24] at Mississippi State University discussing how to solve world hunger.

Students conducted research and completed an essay that focused on out-of-the-box solutions for solving global food insecurity to garner an invitation to the inaugural World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute. Attendees were officially designated Borlaug Scholars for their participation and are eligible for scholarships to Mississippi State University.

Borlaug Scholar Gabe Entrekin learned about the opportunity through the Pearl River County 4-H. The Poplarville High School sophomore drew from personal experiences to formulate his project. He is studying bio-digesters as fuel to help solve energy shortages in Puerto Rico.

Entrekin's project centered on Puerto Rico since his best friend's father grew up there. His solution came from his own background as a member of a cattle farming family that spans seven generations.

"My idea would be to take methane from cattle manure to power generators that would produce electricity," Entrekin explained.

He also is exploring recycling the used manure as food in aquaculture systems.

Entrekin said the 2017 World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute helped open his eyes to global hunger.

"This experience has shown me that there are more places out there in poverty that I didn't know about," Entrekin said. "The most exciting part of being here is listening to the ideas of other students and what they have to say about world hunger."

Entrekin and seven of his peers presented their research findings Friday morning in a roundtable discussion moderated by Keegan Kautzky, director of national programs for the World Food Prize. After the roundtable, the students were guests at the Charles E. Lindley Lecture where Kautzky discussed global food security.

"The Borlaug Scholars pay tribute to the World Food Prize's founder, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. He knew that engaging young people was critical to feeding the world," Kautzky said. "If you are striving to solve global problems at 16, you'll likely be doing the same at 60. The goal of this program is to empower passionate and promising youth to see how they might help feed the world."

Scott Willard, associate dean of MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, hopes the program will grow in coming years.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our state's youth to engage in a meaningful conversation about global food security," Willard said. "Additionally, it gives these students a chance to earn scholarships and become involved with the World Food Prize, an international organization focused on feeding the world."

Participants, along with their teachers, took part in interactive events on the MSU campus to explore research and work currently taking place in Mississippi to address food challenges. The students also engaged with university experts and their peers to discuss solutions to global hunger and poverty.

Top students will be invited to the World Food Prize International Symposium in Iowa in October.

Caption: The newly designated Borlaug Scholars enjoyed a full day at MSU learning about food security, including a chance to meet with MSU President Mark E. Keenum, a longtime proponent of food security. Pictured (left-right) are Scott Willard, associate dean of MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Nyshedra Jordan, Thomas Shaw, and Angelique Wilson all of Golden Triangle Early College High School; Keenum; Gabe Entrekin of Poplarville High School; Charles Smith, David Burnett, and Christian Williamson of Golden Triangle Early College High School; Mary Lurks of Wingfield High School; and Keegan Kautzky, director of national programs for the World Food Prize.

Dated: 3/24/2017