Chatham High School sophomore Jack Foley participated in the New Jersey World Food Prize Global Youth Institute at Rutgers University last Friday.
Through the New Jersey Youth Institute, students research issues they are passionate about and propose their ideas to solve the problems they discover. They present their proposals to statewide experts and have the opportunity to interact with global leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in New Jersey who are working to end hunger and poverty and improve food security globally. Students who participate in the New Jersey Youth Institute earn recognition as Borlaug Scholars and qualify for internships and further opportunities.
“I have to say, I was very nervous going into the day," Foley said. "I thought I did not know enough about my topic, or that I hadn't researched enough about it. However, when I finally got into small groups to present, it was more relaxed, and I had a lot of fun listening to other people talk about their papers and solutions.
"Everyone came up with really neat solutions to a variety of topics, and, at the end, we had a group discussion about food security overall, which I found really fun to just talk with the people I was with. Overall, I had a really great time, and I encourage anyone else to participate.”
Foley chose to research and evaluate sustainable agriculture in China. He focused on the overuse of agrochemicals, such as nitrogenous fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, and how their use impacts food security in China. He also presented solutions to this problem as well, one of which included developing a system of crop rotation or crop diversification in China, which could reduce dependency on agrochemicals. Foley presented on the implementation of these goals, such as working with small farmers in areas of rural China.
“The World Food Prize Global Youth Institute opens students eyes to issues beyond our backyards and encourages them to think about viable solutions for these issues," Dr. Margaret Holzer, CHS Science teacher, said. "By going through the process of writing the paper and presenting their work, not only do students develop critical skills in research, writing, and communicating, they also gain a deeper appreciation for the efforts being made to eradicate some the biggest challenges (food and water availability, clean energy, climate change, etc.) facing our underdeveloped nations.
"In addition, they gain a greater appreciation for the resources we have and also understand that the resources are not equally available to everyone here in the United States.”