CHS student to represent state at Global Youth Institute

Grace Brenneman to represent Indiana at Global Youth Institute

Concord High School sophomore Grace Brenneman has been selected to represent the state of Indiana at the 2019 World Food Prize Global Youth Institute. The event will be held Oct. 16-19 in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Brenneman, the daughter of Dan and Angie Brenneman of Elkhart, is one of 200 students from across the world to be selected to participate in the three-day Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation.

The World Food Prize recognizes individuals for working successfully toward establishing a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. It was established in 1986 by Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and became known as “the man who single-handedly saved a million lives” for his leadership in the Green Revolution. The World Food Prize is considered the “Nobel Prize of food and agriculture.”

At the Global Youth Institute, student delegates will present and discuss their findings with more than 1,000 international experts and policy leaders from 65 countries, connect with other students from around the world, and tour industrial and research facilities. 

Students were required to select a country on which they would focus their research and then hone in on a topic area that directly impacts food security within that country, said Jeff Stutzman, Concord High School honors English and speech teacher. 

Last spring, six Concord High School students Brenneman, Allie Conant, Bianca Jimenez-Ortiz, Stephanie Briggs, Layla Kattau and Tyler Peacock attended the two-day 2019 World Food Prize Youth Institute at Purdue University.

During the state event, students presented their research and recommendations about ways to solve key global issues and interacted with entrepreneurs from across the state who are working to improve food security. All six students were also recognized as Borlaug Scholars.

Brenneman selected Haiti as her country of focus and the use of sustainable agriculture to combat malnutrition as her topic area. 

“One of the biggest challenges in Haiti is that they don’t have a good system for supplying their own food. They farm very few acres and don’t supply enough domestic food to feed their own people, so they have to rely on exports,” she noted. 

That, combined with the country’s debilitating poverty, led Brenneman to research the impact that cover crops, crop rotation and specific tilling practices might have on replenishing nutrients in the soil and producing a greater yield. 

On Friday, August 16, Brenneman learned that she had been invited to attend the Global Youth Institute.

Although she wasn’t expecting the opportunity, Brenneman said she is excited to learn from agriculture experts from across the world and share those ideas with her family when she returns home. The Brenneman family raises cattle, grows corn and soybeans and has a custom harvesting business on their family farm in Elkhart.

“I’ve already learned a ton about the different avenues of agriculture and this is a great opportunity to keep building on that knowledge,” she said. Brenneman plans to study agriculture management in college and then experience farming at a large scale & maybe even come back to the home farm in Elkhart County someday. 

“Above all, this shows what our students are capable of when they have the opportunity to do some real-world writing and research outside of what’s required as a class assignment,” Stutzman said.

Brenneman agreed with Stutzman’s sentiment, noting that one of the reasons she believes she did so well is because “my heart was in it.” 

“I was able to research and write about something that is important to my future career and relates to what I enjoy about being involved in agriculture,” she said. “The topics are interesting to me and I’m able to dig deeper into the farming realm and have a better understanding of agriculture.”