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In a screen capture, Ludington High School junior Alana Calhoun discusses a project during the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute earlier this month. Calhoun was one of 214 students around the world to participate in the virtual event.

Ludington High School junior Alana Calhoun recently participated at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute virtually.

Calhoun was one of four students chosen from the state event to move onto the global event and one of 214 students chosen from around the world to participate.

Calhoun first heard about the project last spring when her advanced foods science teacher, Jen Rowe, assigned the project to all of her students.

“I assigned the project to my advanced foods students in the spring, and once we stopped meeting in person (because of the pandemic) I figured no one would complete the research paper (which was how you applied to the competition),” Rowe said. “Alana felt compelled to continue on, and represented Michigan at the Michigan Youth Institute in May.”

Calhoun said when she first heard about the program she was excited and spent a lot of time thinking of ways she could help people in her community as well as in future on a global scale.

“When COVID-19 hit Mrs. Rowe made it an optional assignment,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said she wanted to combine her love for travel with the desire to help people.

“I did this project because I want to travel and help people, not that I had any interest or knowledge in the importance of agriculture or food insecurity, however that changed,” Calhoun said. “My task for this program was to write a paper about a country and a current problem that relates to food insecurity.”

Calhoun’s paper was on the water and sanitation issues of the country of Tuvalu, a small country located halfway between Australia and Hawaii, and its inadequate waste management systems, which is leading to food insecurity in the country.

Between March and May, Calhoun and Rowe spent time together meeting via Zoom to work on Calhoun’s speech as she prepped for the Michigan Youth Institute.

Calhoun said the whole experience at the state competition really piqued her interest in the topic of food insecurity.

“Mrs. Rowe helped me throughout this journey so much, everywhere from reading my paper and giving me suggestions, to helping me find resources, to being there for me emotionally,” Calhoun said. “She is a true inspiration. She cares so genuinely for the kids, and the community she serves, yet is so humble. I wouldn’t have gotten these opportunities if it wasn’t for her endless want to help others.”

Rowe said Calhoun was one of four students chosen from the state competition to move onto the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute which occurred on Friday, Oct. 9.

“Alana’s paper was outstanding, and she did an amazing job researching the nation of Tuvalu,” Rowe said. “She has represented LHS and all of Michigan so well. More than 10,000 students applied for this honor, and she was one of 214 chosen from around the world.”

The World Food Prize Foundation brings students and their mentors to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates and discuss pressing food security and agricultural issues with international experts.

At the Global Youth Institute, student delegates, like Calhoun, present papers and discussed their findings with international experts and their peers.

Calhoun presented her paper on water and sanitation issues on the Island of Tuvalu and how it relates to food insecurity, during a symposium in front of delegates from around the world, hear from amazing scientists, farmers, leaders and activists.

“This experience has truly opened my eyes to so much. I really believe there needs to be more of an initiative to teach about these topics in school,” she said. “What a great opportunity this was. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get all the opportunities I have through this program.”

To view Calhoun’s presentation at the Wold Food Prize go to {br class=”Apple-interchange-newline” /}

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