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On March 22, the New York Youth Institute (NYYI) united ninety students from 36 high schools across New York State for an enriching day of learning at Cornell University. These bright young minds came together to share their research and innovative ideas, addressing critical global challenges and fostering a collaborative spirit in the pursuit of a more sustainable future.

The event was marked by a series of enriching activities aimed at fostering knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovation in the field of development and global challenges.

The day commenced with a warm welcome from New York Youth Institute (NYYI), World Food Prize Foundation (WFPF), and Cornell CALS leadership, including Polly Endreny Holmberg, Abigail Turner, and CALS Dean Benjamin Houlton. The stage was then set for Francine Barchett, CALS PhD Candidate, and the WFPF Council of Advisors Youth Member.

The highlight of the day was the roundtables session, where students presented their research and engaged in discussions within small group settings. This unique opportunity for collaboration and mentorship allowed students to refine their ideas in the topics of Zero Hunger, Social Inequality, and Climate Action and gain valuable insights from roundtable expert panelists, including CALS professors, Ph.D. candidates and 2023-24 Cornell Fulbright Humphrey Fellows.

“Attending the New York Youth Institute was eye-opening,” said Daniel Kibatullin, a student from Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Kibatullin, whose project focused on sustainable agriculture in the Netherlands and the country’s reputation for innovative farming practices and efficient land use, shared that highlights included meeting fascinating people, presenting his project, and learning about new aspects of agriculture. “Overall, the experience broadened my perspective and motivated me to contribute to agricultural advancements,” Kibatullin added.

Following the engaging roundtable discussions, participants embarked on pre-selected campus tours that showcased the diverse aspects of agricultural research and innovation at Cornell University. These tours offered a unique opportunity for attendees to gain a firsthand look into various aspects of agricultural research and innovation, including Animal Agriculture, Soil Health, Food Processing and Development, Controlled Environment Agriculture, and Entomology. As participants explored the cutting-edge facilities and projects, they gained invaluable insights into potential solutions for a more sustainable future, fueling their passion for addressing global challenges and fostering a deeper understanding of the vital role innovation plays in ensuring a sustainable world.

The day concluded with a Cornell CALS and WFPF student panel discussion, featuring Anna Cummings of CALS Admissions and engaging interactions with CALS Student Ambassadors and World Food Prize Program alumni. Commissioner Richard Ball joined the event alongside WFPF-NYYI Leadership. They commended the students for their outstanding efforts and contributions throughout the day, emphasizing the importance of youth engagement in addressing global food security challenges.

 “I was inspired by the insightful proposals that highlighted the students' deep engagement with both local and global challenges, showcasing their potential to contribute to sustainable solutions,” said Uchenna Amaechina, a Humphrey Fellow from Nigeria who served as an expert panelist at the event. “Students offered innovative solutions to pressing global challenges in food security and sustainable development — from water scarcity in Sudan and sustainable agriculture through honey bee production in the Democratic Republic of Congo to food security and public health in the context of infectious diseases in India and conflicts in Somalia.

The New York Youth Institute's event at Cornell University demonstrated the power of collaboration and the potential of young minds to create positive change. By empowering students to refine their ideas and implement innovative solutions, NYYI continues to pave the way for a brighter and more sustainable future.

 

Maia Tsignadze is a 2023-24 Humphrey Fellow at Cornell and the founder and chairperson of the Georgian Ranger Association (GRA).

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