Special Section: Celebrating the Borlaug Centennial
This week, the State of Iowa honored one of its greatest heroes: agricultural scientist, humanitarian, and founder of the World Food Prize, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. Dr. Borlaug’s statue was installed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 25th, at a ceremony including the leadership of the United States Congress, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad, and Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, who chaired the Borlaug Statue Committee.
Every state in the United States is permitted two statues of notable citizens to represent it in the nation’s capitol building; Iowa leaders voted to return another statue and add Dr. Borlaug. The date of the ceremony was especially fitting as March 25th was National Agriculture Day and would have been Dr. Borlaug’s 100th birthday.
Iowans and hunger fighters around the world can read more about this week’s celebration of Dr. Borlaug and of Iowa’s agricultural and humanitarian heritage, see photos or watch video footage of the ceremony, and share their own work fighting hunger at /norm.
Innovation and Collaboration: High Schools as Partners in Ending Hunger
“We have to personalize hunger. If you can’t find passion for the cause, you have to find someone who you know and care about who is hungry at your school or church and think about them.” – High School Student and Organizer Against Hunger
Students and educators across Iowa are developing innovative ways to reduce hunger in their communities while developing the skills and knowledge to make a lifelong contribution to the fight against hunger. Many high school students and their teachers partner with local nonprofit groups and businesses to reduce hunger through service learning activities.
This edition of the Iowa Hunger Directory newsletter features exceptional efforts to organize community-wide events in Clay-Central-Everly and Boone school districts. The next edition of the Iowa Hunger Directory newsletter will include stories and lessons from students and teachers in Emmetsburg and Sumner-Fredericksburg school districts.
In Clay-Central-Everly, an agricultural educator worked with two student FFA officers to organize a Hunger Summit for students and members of the community. Despite winter weather, over 100 people participated in their Hunger Summit on February 17th. The Hunger Summit included a series of five 20-minute workshops in which participants learned about the local backpack program for hungry kids, tips and tricks for communicating about hunger through social media, the Farm to Fork program at Iowa State University, issues and opportunities in Iowa agriculture, and the National FFA “Running on Empty” hunger simulation. Senior management with Elanco Animal Health gave a keynote address, and participants were supported to continue raising awareness and encouraging action against hunger through Elanco’s nation-wide #Feedthe9 initiative.
In Boone, a high school senior worked with Iowa-based Outreach, Inc., the school’s talented and gifted coordinator, and eighth-grade students to organize a community hunger banquet raising awareness and funds for community development in Tanzania. About 75 people battled winter weather to attend the Boone Hunger Banquet, where they participated in an educational hunger simulation, learned about Outreach and its work in Tanzania, raised $756 to send Tanzanian children to school and equip a kitchen at a newly built children’s feeding center in Tanzania. Students and adults from the community also discussed next steps, and there is substantial interest in sponsoring an Outreach, Inc. meal-packaging event to provide meals for hungry people in the Boone area and overseas.
Recommendations for successful collaborations involving high schools include:
- Design collaborations so that they further the top priorities of each partner. A successful collaboration makes the academic work of students more relevant, raises the profile of local nonprofits, and demonstrates local businesses’ commitments to corporate citizenship.
Clay-Central-Everly students demonstrated sensitivity to the priorities of businesses and nonprofits by involving ISU Extension and Outreach, the Clay County Cattlemen, the local food pantry, and the CC/E FFA chapter as workshop leaders, and by partnering with Elanco’s existing #Feedthe9 initiative. Boone high school students worked closely with Outreach, Inc., as a nonprofit partner, and their decision to mentor eighth grade students supported the middle school’s service-learning and citizenship curriculum.
- Identify teachers and nonprofit leaders who have facilitated successful collaborations in the past and learn from their successes and failures.
Clay-Central-Everly’s Hunger Summit was inspired by the students’ experiences at the national FFA conference last October, and they were able to learn from FFA’s network as they planned their event. Boone’s Hunger Banquet was successful in large part because the high school organizer was able to work closely with staff at Outreach, Inc., and because the talented and gifted teacher worked with district administrators early on to secure approval.
- Apply for outside funding when necessary and possible. There are pools of funding dedicated to service-learning efforts.
Organizers at Clay-Central-Everly received a “Be the Seed” mini-grant through a partnership between DuPont Pioneer and the Iowa Food and Family Project.
- Start small and keep investments and expectations manageable.
Area grocers were reluctant to donate food for the Boone Hunger Banquet because it was the first time one had been organized by students in Boone. Rather than becoming discouraged, the students were able to cover the cost of food out of the money they raised through their fundraiser. After demonstrating the success of the event this year, they are optimistic that businesses will be supportive next year.
Photo Credits: Top: Dr. Borlaug with farming children; Middle: students package food for local children at the Clay-Central-Everly Hunger Summit; Bottom: participants experience inequality at the Boone Hunger Banquet