The future of the Food Prize: Borlaug-Ruan interns learn to lead

By Nora Faris and Maria Kalaitzandonakes

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sharing cultures through agriculture is one goal of the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program. This summer, 24 Borlaug-Ruan interns traversed the globe, embarking on adventures from Malaysia to Mexico and Bangladesh to Brazil. The interns were selected for their commitment to global food security and paired with agricultural research centers across the world. Through the internships, students collaborated with scientists and policymakers to cultivate agricultural progress through advances in agronomy, ecology, animal science and extension education.

The Borlaug-Ruan students converged on Des Moines this week to lead over 200 high school students at the Global Youth Institute, held in conjunction with the World Food Prize. The Borlaug-Ruan interns stood in the high schoolers’ place last year, when they got their first taste of the World Food Prize. Now, they’re sharing their internship experiences and inspiring their peers to pursue international journeys of their own.

Here are some of their stories:


Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

David DeLaFuente
Somerset, Texas
David DeLaFuente didn’t grow up on a farm, but he began raising livestock in high school through his involvement in FFA. DeLaFuente interned for the International Livestock Research Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this summer, where he developed an interest in agricultural extension and education.

“I learned there’s a lot of science going on, but there aren’t a lot of people to implement that science. I want to help that science get implemented where it’s needed.” – David DeLaFuente


Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Holly Enowski
Russellville, Missouri
She grew up on a farm, but Holly Enowski said she never considered a career in agriculture until her involvement with the Global Youth Institute during high school. This summer, Enowski interned with ICIPE-African Insect Science for Food and Health in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The World Food Prize helped me put agriculture in perspective. It made me realize that I can still work in the industry without working on a farm.” -Holly Enowski


Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Precious Listana
San Francisco, California
Precious Listana is committed to building businesses that build communities. A former Borlaug-Ruan intern in India, Listana is continuing her mission to eliminate global hunger by studying business administration at the University of California-Berkeley. She hopes to design and lead a social enterprise project to combat hunger in her future career.

“My internship not only changed my life, but it made me see the world in a whole different way. The World Food Prize planted a seed in me and made me realize that I have a role in fighting global poverty and fighting global hunger.” -Precious Listana


Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Nosa Ali
Des Moines, Iowa
Nosa Ali shares her hometown, Des Moines, with the World Food Prize. After becoming involved with the Global Youth Institute in high school, Ali applied for the Borlaug-Ruan internship, which took her to Brazil this summer. She interned for EMBRAPA, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.

“I learned that you don’t have to be in the agricultural field to make an impact in food security. In Brazil, I met professors who worked for universities and who were not agronomists, but they worked in labs and had great impacts on food security.” -Nosa Ali


Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Matthew Ellis
Alexander, Iowa
If you think there’s something fishy about Matthew Ellis, you’re right. He spent his summer interning for the WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia, and he’d eventually like to own and operate his own aquaponic farm. He studies animal ecology, fisheries and horticulture at Iowa State University.

“I learned how big the world is. Being in Malaysia was my first time being out of the country, my first time being on a plane.” -Matthew Ellis

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