According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), fall armyworm was first confirmed on the African continent in 2016. This destructive pest can feed on 80 different crop species, including corn, a food staple in Africa. It has been found in more than 30 African countries and poses a serious threat to the food security, income and livelihoods of people.
As participants in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge during the 2017–18 academic year, we learned a great deal about how business can have a positive effect on advancing agriculture, helping mitigate food insecurity and turning something that seems insignificant into something transformative. Our roles as Emerging Leaders in the program changed us forever and helped us further guide our career paths to an agricultural focus.
When she started college, Elizabeth Alonzi never imagined a career in agriculture. Now, having been a Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader and, years later, in a full-time position with WinField United, it seems as if ag has been a happy landing.
While she was growing up, Ariel Garsow developed a number of interests by participating in hobbies and extracurricular activities. She especially loved cooking with her grandmother. In high school, she was naturally drawn to science. These interests, combined with her attendance on church mission trips, sparked Ariel’s passion for helping feed the hungry.
In her high school advanced placement (AP) biology class, Tara Mittelberg learned about Norman Borlaug, the renowned scientist, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner who devoted his career to battling hunger and poverty across the globe. This sparked her interest in agriculture and prompted her to pursue the opportunity to be an Emerging Leader in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge during the 2014–2015 academic year.
As I sit down to write this farewell blog, I feel overwhelmed with emotion because of the amazing experiences the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge has given us 10 Emerging Leaders. However, this blog isn’t meant to dwell on our farewell, but rather to highlight the learning experiences we encountered.
In 2014, Trey Forsyth’s college advisor told him about a new program Land O’Lakes was implementing called the Global Food Challenge. Forsyth’s thoughts immediately turned to butter.
Unlike Toto, we didn’t bless the rains in Africa but rather were blessed by them. These blessings came in several forms, from impressing upon us the power of education to igniting our passions, which motivated us all to improve and impact the future.
Saturday, June 16, will mark a life-changing day for the 2018–19 class of Emerging Leaders in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge program. At that time, the 10-member group of college sophomores will travel to Lilongwe, Malawi, for the first leg of its 10-day trip to Africa. The group will travel to South Africa for the second half of the trip.
Katie Enzenauer knew in high school that she wanted to see the world and help people in developing countries overcome challenges such as food insecurity. “When the Global Food Challenge program came along,” she recalls, “I remember thinking it was a perfect fit.”