Morris Challenge Youth Institute


Ninth through twelfth grade students are eligible to apply.

To participate in the Morris Challenge Youth Institute, high school students research a global issue and write a paper under the supervision of a teacher or mentor.

What is the Morris Challenge Youth Institute?

The Morris Challenge Youth Institute is a life-changing experience at the University of Minnesota Morris where high school students engage with local leaders and experts on critical global challenges, participate in hands-on activities, and explore exciting ways to make a difference in Minnesota and around the world. The Morris Challenge Youth Institute is associated with the World Food Prize Foundation Global Youth Institute.

At this exciting event, participating high school students have the opportunity to:

  • Present research and recommendations on ways to solve key global challenges in a short speech and small group discussions with statewide experts;
  • Connect with other student leaders to share ideas, identify solutions to these problems and build lasting friendships;
  • Explore the issues, current research and opportunities to make a difference at the University of Minnesota Morris; and
  • Interact with global leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs working to end hunger and poverty and improve food security around the world.

Papers will be evaluated by The World Food Prize Board of Reviewers. This distinguished group of educators and experts was established to mentor and personally encourage students. Reviewers write thoughtful, personalized feedback to each student who participates in the Youth Institute.

More Information 

2024 Morris Challenge Youth Institute Flyer2024 Morris Challenge Youth Institute Student Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is the 2024 Morris Challenge Youth Institute?

The 2024 Morris Challenge Youth Institute will take place on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, on the campus of the University of Minnesota Morris.

What is the Morris Challenge Youth Institute (MCYI)?

The MCYI is an interactive program that connects high school students from west-central Minnesota with research and industry leaders working in agricultural, food, and natural resource-related fields. Students learn how these leaders are making a positive impact—in their communities and beyond—and receive feedback on their research paper presentations.

What is the World Food Prize Foundation, and who is Norman Borlaug?

The World Food Prize Foundation was started by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, a farm kid from Iowa who earned bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota. More importantly, because of his work to eliminate wheat rust, Borlaug is credited with saving more than a million lives and encouraging youth to get involved and help solve complex issues through programs like the Morris Challenge Youth Institute.

What is the World Food Prize?

The World Food Prize is equivalent to the Nobel Prize in Agriculture, presented by the World Food Prize Foundation (WFPF). It is awarded to those who have “advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world.”

The Prize was started in 1986 by Dr. Norman Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on food security in India and Pakistan. The Prize is awarded at the Iowa State Capital each October as the culminating event of the annual Borlaug International Symposium.

What is the Global Youth Institute (GYI)?

The Global Youth Institute is the final event of the Borlaug International Symposium. The Global Youth Institute brings together +200 high school students from across the world and international leaders in the field of agriculture to discuss current issues in food security. Discussions take place during the International Borlaug Dialogue panels and in small group activities. Students will also have an opportunity to present their papers in groups of about 10 students and three experts. On the last day, student cohorts are tasked with a global challenge, then come to a consensus on the key issues of the day and offer their recommendations to the large group.

What are the benefits of applying for the Morris Challenge Youth Institute?

Regardless of whether they advance to the Global Youth Institute, high school students who participate in the Morris Challenge Youth Institute have access to internships, a one-time $1,000 scholarship to the University of Minnesota Morris, and access to World Food Prize Foundation and University of Minnesota events, such as science immersions, special panels, faculty/industry connections, and more.

I’m not planning to pursue food or agriculture—is this opportunity still a good fit for me?

Regardless of the course of study and career path you choose, your participation in the Morris Challenge Youth Institute will be just as valuable. Many past participants in the World Food Prize Foundation Youth Institutes have gone on to careers in medicine, law, economics, social sciences, and more, and they felt the experience was a great chance to see how food systems touch every part of society. You can list this experience on resumes or add your research paper to your portfolio.

How will I know if I've been accepted for the MCYI?

All students who submit papers will be accepted, and all students will be invited to present their papers at the Morris Challenge Youth Institute on May 14, 2024, at the University of Minnesota Morris campus.

All participating students will receive a one-time $1,000 scholarship to the University of Minnesota Morris.

Can I use the $1,000 scholarship at other University of Minnesota campuses? How will I receive it?

The scholarship is only applicable to students who choose to enroll at the University of Minnesota Morris. Once enrolled at the University of Minnesota Morris, the money will be automatically applied to your financial aid account.

I accidentally put the wrong information on my registration form. Do I need to submit another form?

No need to submit another form. Just email Doug Reed, director of the Morris Challenge with the correct information.

Questions about the Research Paper

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Questions about the Research Paper

Does the paper have to be on a food security issue?

Yes. In honor of Dr. Norman Borlaug’s legacy and the mission of the World Food Prize Foundation, all papers must be related to a global food security issue. Because food security can be affected by many factors, you are encouraged to 1) consider the factors listed below and 2) choose one that your research and paper will focus on.

For example, you could write about climate change & its effect on farm harvests in Brazil, or human rights conflicts in
Yemen and its ties to malnourishment. Whatever you choose, your paper must highlight solutions to address the issue.

Factors affecting food security:

  1. Animal Agriculture
  2. Animal Health
  3. Climate Volatility
  4. Conflict
  5. Dietary Diseases
  6. Education
  7. Foreign Aid
  8. Human Rights
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Infectious Diseases
  11. International Trade
  12. Malnutrition
  13. Plants
  14. Policy & Governance
  15. Populations
  16. Renewable Energy
  17. Spoilage & Waste
  18. Sustainable Agriculture
  19. Water & Sanitation
  20. Water Scarcity

Student Paper Resources

At the bottom of the Student Resources page on the World Food Prize Foundation website, you will find resources
to help with:

  • How to write a research paper
  • How to cite sources in the bibliography
  • Understanding and avoiding plagiarism

Do I need to have a mentor?

Students are encouraged to have a mentor, but this will not be enforced during virtual MCYI events. Mentors are key to ensuring students have a plan for the research process and are a great source of accountability and feedback.

Who can be a mentor?

Mentors can be:

  • Teachers at your school
    • You don’t have to know this teacher! This is a great opportunity to share the MCYI at your school.
  • Guardians/Family members
  • Tutors
  • Coaches
  • Community members
  • Any trusted adult over 18 years of age

Can I work in a group?

No. The research paper and roundtable discussion must be done by an individual. You are certainly welcome to talk to peers/mentors to share ideas and get feedback.

Where do I submit my paper?

The link to submit your paper is on the World Food Prize Foundation website.

  • You must submit your paper no later than April 26, 2024.
  • When you submit your paper, you are registered for the 2024 Morris Challenge Youth Institute.

How complex should my solution be? How many topics and solutions do we need?

You are expected to choose just one country and one topic (sustainable agriculture, policy, water sanitation, etc.) of your choice. Pick something you are curious about!

The number of solutions is not as important as the depth in which you explore it. Depending on your topic, you could have one to four solutions, but remember you only have two to four pages and are recommended to spend up to half of it on the solution.

You are by no means expected to invent a new technology or come up with a project idea for solutions. Research current work that’s being done to address the issue and see if you can apply it in novel ways, such as proposing possible policy or application in a sector that’s yet to implement a technique.

Do I have to include a family in my paper, and do I need to contact one?

Yes, part of the context for your research paper includes outlining a typical family’s food security situation.

No, you are not expected to contact anyone in your research country. If you have a personal anecdote you’d like to share as part of the paper, you are welcome to do so, but keep this part brief.

How do I cite and format the bibliography?

The paper can be cited in MLA or APA format.

Bibliography websites such as ZoteroBib can be helpful tools for formatting.

At the bottom of the Student Paper Resources page on the World Food Prize Foundation website, you will find helpful information on how to cite sources in your bibliography and how to write a research paper.

Once I submit my paper in April, will I receive feedback before I present in May?

Feedback from the World Food Prize Foundation Board of Reviewers will not arrive until after May. However, if you would like to get feedback from a Morris Challenge Youth Institute Ambassador before submitting your paper, please contact Doug Reed, director of the Morris Challenge.

Roundtable Presentation and May Event Questions

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Roundtable Presentation and May Event Questions

How do the roundtable presentations at the event in May work?

  • Participants will be grouped with six or seven other students during the roundtable sessions.
  • Roundtable sessions will be moderated by three or four field experts.
  • Each student will have three minutes to summarize their research findings, followed by about three minutes of Q&A from experts and students in the room.
  • The presentations will be completely verbal. No slides are permitted.
  • Students may use a notecard, but reading directly from it will affect their presentation scores.
  • Experts in the room will evaluate the presentation and submit feedback to the Morris Youth Challenge Institute committee for the selection process to advance to the Global Youth Institute.

It is important for students to focus most of their presentation on the solution(s) to their research area. A common mistake is for students to elaborate too much on background information or country demographics and not have enough time to address how to solve the issues.

Also remember to relax. The experts in the room are there to have a dialogue with you and the other students, not act so much as judges. Often, you are the expert in your topic area/country in the room, so this is an opportunity to share with and learn from both peers and adults.

Practice. Breathe. Smile. Be yourself.

What will I do while other students are presenting?

All students are expected to listen respectfully while others are presenting.

You will be assigned one student to prepare a question for. You will ask your question during the five-minute discussion period after they are done presenting. You will only be asked to do this once. For all other students, listen attentively and post comments in the chat box if you have something to say.

If there is extra time after all students have presented, the roundtable session will open up to discussion time, where experts and students can talk and ask other follow-ups.

Is there a dress code for the Morris Challenge Youth Institute?

Students are encouraged to dress in business casual attire.

Application Deadline

Financial Details/Compensation/Aid

Students who participate in the Morris Challenge Youth Institute can earn a one time $1,000 scholarship to the University of Minnesota Morris, recognition as a Borlaug Scholar, and qualify for internships and further opportunities. 


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