Student Honored with Trip to World Food Prize Ceremony

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COLUMBIA - While most students save the weekend for a chance to relax, Rock Bridge senior Ouma Amadou and teacher Dan Ware met with global leaders and discussed international solutions to poverty and hunger in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Every year the World Food Prize is presented in Iowa as part of a three-day event. The World Food Prize Foundation's Global Youth Institute selects around 100 high school students each year to participate in the weekend's activities. Amadou applied to the program with a research paper on malnutrition in India and was one of three Missouri students selected to present her research to experts.

Amadou said the weekend was a great learning experience, and said she felt like her voice was heard by global leaders in science, industry and policy.

"I wasn't just a high school student, and they weren't just experts," Amadou said. "It was two people who had a common interest discussing the same types of issues."

Amadou chose her teacher to accompany her on the trip.

"The beautiful thing about this event is its not just about the students sharing their research and interacting with their peers," Ware said. "When you go to breakfast, lunch or dinner, you're sitting a table with the world's foremost experts on these various topics. It was great as a teacher for me to watch Ouma interacting with these world leaders and have intelligent meaningful discussion about things that really matter."

 Ware said the weekend was a great experience for him as a teacher.

"It was a five-hour car ride back, and the whole time I was thinking, 'How can I bring this back to my classroom?'" Ware said. "How can I inspire all my kids to engage in this process and ask these kinds of questions and think up these kinds of solutions?"

Amadou also said she wants to bring back what she learned and apply it to the community. She said she has already contacted several community leaders in town to work on making a difference about food issues in Columbia.

"It doesn't really matter how old you are when it comes to ideas," Amadou said. "As long as you have that idea, and you have passion for something, you can really make an impact on something from there."

Ware said he took away a lot from the weekend, but the words of one presenter really stuck with him.

"One of the speakers said 'Science is universal, but solutions are local,'" Ware said. "It doesn't matter where you go in the world, you are always going to be dealing with individuals who are in a state of poverty or who are hungry. These are big ideas that you can ultimately think about how can you come up with solutions that are local, because that's the only way you are going to make a difference."

This year's World Food Prize winner is Daniel Hillel for his work in Israel. His work includes maximizing efficient water usage in agriculture, increasing crop yields and minimizing environmental degradation.