From the Dean – Spring 2016

On consecutive weeks this spring, we hosted the 88th annual Iowa FFA Leadership Conference and the 22nd year of the World Food Prize Foundation Iowa Youth Institute.

The main sessions of both events were held in Hilton Coliseum.

The state FFA leaders put on quite a show. Lasers, pyrotechnics, fog machines, slickly produced videos and high-decibel rock’n’roll and hip-hop brought the house down. The theme was “Amplify” and the conference delivered. When you’re in the same space with more than 5,500 energized, blue-jacketed Iowa FFA members, you feel it from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. It’s a celebration of hard work, dedication and entrepreneur- ship from incredibly accomplished young leaders in agriculture.

The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute is a study in contrasts. About 300 students from 130 Iowa schools gathered around tables in Hilton to understand more about global food security and combating hunger and poverty. It’s serious and sometimes sobering business, and leads into presentations of their own ideas and findings. If there are lasers and pyrotechnics, they’re found within each of the participants as they discover more about other people and cultures—and more about themselves as they seek to make a difference in the world.

Despite the differing atmosphere and tone, the common threads between the two events are many. All these young people are passionate about food, agriculture and the future of Iowa and the planet. In their own unique ways, all have immersed themselves in programs that bring out their very best.

Some successfully commingle their involvement. Six of the nine Iowa FFA state officers had participated in the Iowa Youth Institute.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is proud to be a perennial sponsor of the state FFA leadership conference. We’re proud to be a long-time partner with the World Food Prize Foundation on making the Iowa Youth Institute a premier event to explore food security issues.

For these two institutions, a common thread with Iowa State is that we’re all about providing opportunities for transformative experiences for young people. All of us believe that these experiences will have a lasting impact on their future. The challenges that Iowa and the world face are formidable—but they can be overcome with the energy and commitment we see every day in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and that we see every year with the state FFA conference and the Iowa Youth Institute.

The World Food Prize calls the engagement with students the search for “The Next Norm.” Maybe the next Norman Borlaug—or Norma Borlaug—will be one of those 300 Iowa Youth Institute participants or one of those 5,500 FFA students. Now that’s exciting to imagine.

Wendy Wintersteen

Endowed Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences