Pairing Classroom and Farm Field to Solve ChallengesShare
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.”
Enzenauer, currently a senior at the University of Minnesota, participated in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge as an Emerging Leader during the 2015–16 school year. “I thought it was a unique opportunity to learn more about food insecurity around the world,” she says. “I also thought it was great how you could travel to a rural setting, to Washington, D.C., and to Africa to get a big-picture view of agriculture and ag policy.”
Encountering real-world issues
Enzenauer and others in her group of 10 Emerging Leaders were able to meet with the U.S. ambassador to Rwanda during their time in Kenya and Rwanda, as well as U.S. congressional representatives from Minnesota during the Washington leg of their trip. A farmer in Kansas, where Enzenauer spent a week at a cooperative, was particularly memorable.
“He told us about a wildfire on his farm that consumed several of his cattle,” Enzenauer recalls. “He wasn’t concerned about the money he’d lost. He was more worried that there was that much less food going into the food supply. That was a touching moment for me, because it showed how much farmers care and their passion for their communities.”
Problem-solving at many levels
As a double-major in food science and nutrition, Enzenauer has been able to use her learnings from the Global Food Challenge in her coursework. “We are learning about bioengineered and organic products and how the two figure into agriculture today, as well as about the balance that’s necessary to achieve both food security and sustainability,” she says. “I’m able to draw on things I learned through the Global Food Challenge while being on farms and talking with farmers and community members, and bring those experiences into the classroom.”
Enzenauer will finish her undergraduate degree in December 2018. She hopes to go directly to graduate school to earn a master’s in food science, with the eventual goal of working in research and development. Enzenauer will also participate this summer in her third internship at Land O’Lakes, working in the consumer affairs/test kitchen area. She looks forward to completing her studies and working to help solve the world’s pressing food challenges.
“In school, you’re often told there’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer,” she says. “But sometimes there is no one right answer. In the case of food insecurity, there are many different disciplines that go into solving our global food challenges.”