MPCHS junior attends prestigious institute
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
When Mt. Pleasant Community High School junior Ellie Conrad wants to help fix a problem, she does it in a big way, like writing a paper that was selected for the Global Youth Institute.
Conrad joined only 140 other youths from around the world in the Global Youth Institute at the World Food Prize in Des Moines in October, which is, as her teacher Jennifer Stater describes, “basically the Nobel Prize of agriculture.”
Conrad’s paper was written on the problem of child brides in Yemen in regards to the food and water insecurity issues plaguing the country, and what could be done to help solve the problem.
“My ideas for it were basically to approach the problem with helpful solutions from very different angles,” said Conrad. “The country I researched, Yemen, is kind of a disaster and has a lot of problems — like women’s rights — to repair to make it (the country) better.
“I suggested they use more power plants,” continued Conrad. “Power plants offer more higher-paid employment to girls, and I also suggested using vertical farming in cities to give girls income even if they didn’t have an education. I also suggested in my paper the expansion of several programs Yemen already has to empower women.”
Conrad wrote her paper last April and was then selected to the Iowa Youth Institute. After being selected for the Iowa Youth Institute, Conrad had a second chance to edit her paper with feedback she received from a panel of judges before it was submitted to the Global Youth Institute.
Conrad is the first student from MPCHS to be selected for the Global Youth Institute to attend World Food Prize conference in Des Moines. While she was at the conference, she was able to attend conferences and hear speakers such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Howard Buffet and the president of Iceland. She will now apply for an eight-week, all-expenses paid internship to the country of her choice to see her research put into action.
“I would prefer to go to the Middle East or Africa,” said Conrad on her internship plans. “I totally want to do that. In Bangladesh there is a research center with a large focus on poverty and the effect it has on women especially, which fits right in with my interests. South America is pretty similar and going there would help me learn Spanish.”
Conrad would recommend any middle-school or high-school student to write their paper and submit it to the Iowa Youth Institute.
“They should definitely write their papers and apply,” said Conrad. “It was way worth the work.”
“Everyday we were surrounded by these brilliant people who have already done so much and we just got to sit down and talk with them,” Conrad said of her experience. “I had lunch with one of the laureates and just sitting there was mind-blowing. This person has already changed the world; he has saved so many lives. It was really humbling, but also uplifting at the same time because there were interns there who were my age or a year older and they had already done research and the work they have done has already helped so many people. It was cool to see that we can do something to change the world, even if we aren’t very old.”