School of Excellence in Ag Sciences students attend World Food Prize symposium

November 30, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Six high school students who participated in the Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Agricultural Sciences at Penn State over the summer recently attended the 2017 World Food Prize International Symposium, held in Des Moines, Iowa.

The World Food Prize is the foremost international honor recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The conference features an array of international leaders, farmers, agribusiness executives, nongovernmental organizations and development experts to address the most critical issues affecting global food security.

According to Jenneth Layaou, the College of Agricultural Sciences' director of campus enrollment and retention, the Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Agricultural Sciences is a four-week residential program that provides academically talented high school seniors in Pennsylvania an opportunity to explore the fields of agricultural science and natural resources and life on a college campus.

One of the program's projects involved having the students write a five-page research paper on a topic affecting food security in a developing country. A panel of judges reviewed the students' papers and selected six to represent Pennsylvania during the three-day Global Youth Institute, hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation.

The winners and their high schools are Jessica Pekach and Sarah Wilson, W.B. Saul High School; Shannon Reinhard, Northampton High School; Gabrielle Henrichs, DuBois Area High School; Natalie Napolitano, Quaker Valley High School; and Abigail Yoder, Central Columbia High School.

While at the symposium, the students discussed their research findings with international experts and connected with other students from around the United States and from nine other countries, including Canada, China, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Kosovo, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines. In addition, they toured cutting-edge industrial and research facilities and participated in roundtable discussions with global leaders in science, industry and policy.

"The students were wonderful representatives and demonstrated a level of maturity and engagement way beyond their years," Layaou said. "I believe the experience elevated their knowledge and commitment to helping to solve the world's food security problems."

To learn more about the Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, visit the program's webpage at or its Facebook page, Pennsylvania School for Excellence in the Ag Sciences.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 30, 2017