At universities across the United States, college sophomores are studying, Snapchatting and speculating on which major will bring them the most success. But 10 sophomores at five universities have traded in selfies with friends for selfies with our CEO, member-owners and farmers around the world. It’s all part of the Land O'Lakes, Inc. Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security fellowship program.
The Global Food Challenge
The program, established in 2014, is one way Land O'Lakes is tackling one of the most significant challenges of our time. The world's population is on a course to hit 9.7 billion by 2050. We need to produce more food with fewer resources and less environmental impact. To make things more interesting, we have a talent crisis on our hands. There are more agriculture jobs than new professionals to fill them.
"Ag is the greatest growth industry of our era and represents the most dynamic career opportunity for this generation," says Chris Policinski, Land O'Lakes president and CEO.
That's why we've chosen 10 exceptional college sophomores to participate in the Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security fellowship to learn more about this vital issue. Announced at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa last October, the 2015-2016 Emerging Leaders for Food Security are:
- Elizabeth Alonzi (Bloomington, Minnesota, University of Minnesota)
- Katie Enzenauer (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, University of Minnesota)
- Blake Schweiner (Green Bay, Wisconsin, University of Minnesota)
- Abby Adair (Crown Point, Indiana, Purdue University)
- Sydney Gray (West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University)
- Addison Bidwell (Grinnell, Iowa, Iowa State University)
- Leah Ellensohn (Le Mars, Iowa, Iowa State University)
- Megan Schnell (Charlottesville, Virginia, Iowa State University)
- Diana Fu (Pleasanton, California, Northwestern University)
- Ayse Muratoglu (Chicago, Illinois, The George Washington University)
A year of learning
Throughout the year, the students take a dive deep into agriculture, working closely with Land O'Lakes staff and university professors on a series of assignments designed to spur the students’ thinking about food security issues.
"We’re committed to helping feed the growing world population and we know no single person or company is going to solve the challenge of feeding nearly 10 billion people alone," says Lydia Botham, executive director of the Land O'Lakes Foundation. "It's going to take innovative and practical ideas–the types of ideas that often come from new places."
In their role as Land O'Lakes brand ambassadors, the students lead the charge on campus with a focus on educating and empowering their peers to advocate for agriculture. This year, a few of last year’s Emerging Leaders will act as mentors and pass on their knowledge they gained in their work with the Global Food Challenge.
Our Emerging Leaders come from the University of Minnesota, Purdue University, Iowa State University, Northwestern University and The George Washington University. The students were selected through a competitive application process that included a wide-ranging education disciplines–from agronomy and environmental science to nutrition, finance and marketing.
The sophomores will take their research on the road to Land O’Lakes headquarters for a full-time summer internship in May. They’ll expand their knowledge of agriculture with hands-on trips to Land O'Lakes members—both co-ops and dairy operations—to better understand the challenges that farmers face today. They'll address issues such as sustainability, global supply chains, ensuring access to new technology. They’ll also focus on empowering change in communities here, near and far, including a visit to Washington D.C. and a Land O'Lakes International Development site in Africa. Then they’ll wrap up the journey with a presentation of their findings.
“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime chance…to learn a lot about where your food comes from and how you can have an impact on the world," says Ayse Muratoglu, one of the 2015-16 Emerging Leaders.