Third annual Morris Challenge Youth Institute held May 14

Sue Dieter

Sixteen high school students and their teachers from the Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Kalon Prep Academy of Alexandria, and West Central Area participated in the third annual Morris Challenge Youth Institute on Tuesday, May 14.   

Hosted by the University of Minnesota Morris, the Morris Challenge Youth Institute is an official World Food Prize event. The day-long program provided an immersive cross-curricular experience and allowed participants to present solutions to global hunger issues. The Morris Challenge Youth Institute is one of 32 youth institutes hosted around the world.

Participating students chose a country and researched the effects of poverty and hunger on its citizens. The students then researched various solutions to address these issues and identified which solution they believed was most promising for that country. The students wrote a paper explaining their conclusion and why they believed it would work.  

While on campus, students presented their ideas to local leaders and experts on critical global challenges, participated in hands-on activities, and explored exciting ways to make a difference in Minnesota and around the world.  Additionally, the students explored the West Central Research and Outreach Center, the USDA Soils Lab and the UMN Morris campus.  

World Food Prize Foundation Program Manager Renee Cooper explained the mission of this youth program is to invest in, and equip, and mobilize a global youth community, shaping sustainable food systems.

“It's essential that youth are involved in these discussions and decisions that will shape our food systems. We need sustainability leaders. We need communicators, and economists, and scientists, and farmers. We need politicians and engineers, environmental scientists, humanitarians, and more. And right here in Morris, Minnesota, you are surrounded by opportunities to make a difference.”

Two females in front of a University of Minnesota Morris backdrop
Renee Cooper and Hope Williams

Cooper also recognized Hope Williams, a Kalon Prep student who participated in the 2023 Morris Challenge Youth Institute. Williams has been selected for the Borlaug Ruan International Internship, a prestigious program that places students at leading agricultural research and development organizations around the world. Williams will be spending her summer in Kenya, conducting research and gathering data in the laboratory, in the field, and in local communities. 

Cooper said that 14 students will be placed in six different countries this summer, including Mexico, Peru, Kenya, India, and Taiwan. 

“Essentially, you get to, as students, partner with world-renowned researchers and scientists and policymakers to begin understanding what a career in international sustainability and agriculture might look like.”

Students who are at least 17 years old and have participated in a World Food Prize Foundation program such as the Morris Challenge Youth Institute are eligible for the Borlaug Ruan International Internship.  




For more information, contact Morris Challenge Director Doug Reed at