It’s an oft-cited assumption that the world’s farmers will have 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050, which makes growing enough food as critical as it has ever been. If this is the case, tomorrow’s leaders have their work cut out for them.
“There’s a big need to feed the world, and we need to engage young people, and engage the best and brightest minds to agriculture,” says Lydia Botham, executive director of the Land O’ Lakes Foundation.
Botham and her colleagues have begun to address that fact by developing the Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security fellowship. The unique internship enters its second year this fall.
The inaugural class literally went around the world in 2014, spending time with African farmers, learning about ag policy in Washington, D.C., and taking an extensive U.S. farm tour, anchored by a five-week internship at the Land O’ Lakes headquarters in Minneapolis.
“They really saw so many opportunities in agriculture,” Botham says. “Young people today want a great job, but they also want a job that has a higher purpose.”
The 2015 class was assembled from a 10-student roster of sophomores from the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Purdue University, Northwestern University and George Washington University. Their task began with a deceptively simple question: What are your ideas for feeding the world?
“What excites me the most – a lot of internships just stick you in an office, but this is really collaborative,” says Diana Fu, an environmental science major at Northwestern. “Getting different perspectives is important, and it’s awesome they’re taking a wide range of majors for this internship.”
The mix of students includes those in traditional agriculture majors, plus other disciplines that include finance, marketing and engineering. The group will address various issues ranging from sustainability, global supply chains, agriculture in the developing world, and more. For additional information, visit http://foodchallenge.landolakesinc.com.