Upper Arlington High School students shone at a state competition to help solve global food issues and captured half of the six delegate spots for the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, coming up in October in Iowa.
Teacher Lynn Reese said she was "glowing with Golden Bear pride" as 23 of her students competed April 30 at the Ohio Youth Institute at the Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center at Ohio State University.
"Our students rocked it," she said. "The competition included a 3,000-word essay and a presentation of findings to a panel of students from around the state, led by OSU faculty experts. It culminated in interviews for the top candidates.
"Our students claimed six of the 13 interviews and ultimately three of the six delegate spots."
The three students selected as delegates are junior Lindsay Meredith and sophomores Charlie Mitchell and Kylie White.
Sophomore Madeline Fleming, freshman Lindsey Imhoff and junior Jessica Turner were among the 13 finalists interviewed at the Ohio Youth Institute.
Reese said the state competition was hosted by the OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"The event is designed to build students' awareness of global food issues," she said.
Reese said another source of pride was the fact the opening speaker this year was Upper Arlington High School graduate Laura Johnson, who is also Upper Arlington's first Borlaug Scholar.
"Laura is a perfect example of why I devote so much time and energy to helping students participate in the World Food Prize program," Reese said.
"At the national event in Des Moines, Iowa, she was introduced to her mentor, 2001 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Per Pinstrup-Anderson. He worked with her throughout college and graduate school, helping her to pursue a career path making real strides to end world hunger."
Reese said Johnson is now the head of business development at the Kilimo Salama Syngenta Foundation in Kenya, where she helps bring improved farming techniques and technology to farmers in Africa.
The Borlaug Fellowship is named for Norman E. Borlaug, an American agronomist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Reese said after Johnson's opening remarks, the students heard guest speakers talk about world food issues, participated in hands-on activities about solving world food problems and took tours of OSU's eco-friendly enCore House.
She said students were required to write an essay on the topic "Confronting the Single Greatest Challenge in Human History."
Mitchell wrote about the AIDS epidemic in Lesotho and how the transient workforce and strained political relationship with South Africa complicates efforts to stem the spread of the disease, Reese said.
"Charlie made excellent use of his resources at school, spending many study hall periods working closely with our media specialist," she said. "He easily submitted 20 rough drafts to me and various English teachers for revision suggestions."
Mitchell said participating in the program and researching his subject revealed shocking information about the AIDS epidemic. He learned that the average lifespan in Lesotho is now only 52, he said.
"It has spurred my interest in international events," he said.
White wrote about renovating clinics and improving education about the use of condoms to reduce the spread of HIV in Zimbabwe.
"All year she has been very hard-working, but she clearly has a gift for prose," Reese said. "Kylie aspires to major in the life sciences and saw this as an excellent opportunity to combine her strengths in various disciplines."
Meredith wrote about educating girls as a means to improve standards of living in Afghanistan.
"Lindsay read The Favored Daughter by Fawzia Koofi last year and now deeply admires her courageous work as a politician and women's rights activist," Reese said.
Reese said the three student delegates not only get to talk to world leaders at the World Food Prize event in October, but may now apply for paid internships throughout the world.
"In recent years, Ohio participants have obtained internships in Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Kenya, Mexico and the U.S.," she said.