Three Drake students are working in the World Food Prize George Washington Carver internship this fall. Students Claire Hueg, Kathleen McKracken and Valerie Shepherd are in a group of 11 interns — including students from Drake, Des Moines Area Community College, Hawkeye Community College and Iowa State University — who were selected for this Des Moines-based internship.
According to the World Food Prize website, the George Washington Carver internship is “an unparalleled professional opportunity for students interested in global issues of hunger, poverty and development.” Students can have firsthand experience with the skills required to run a nonprofit organization, such as graphic design, community relations, planning and logistics and youth education programming.
McKracken, a sophomore majoring in international relations, stated that World Food Prize Week, to be held during the third week of October, will be composed of several major events, including the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, Global Youth Institute and Iowa Hunger Summit.
McKracken sought out the internship because of her “interest in international relations and the World Food Prize being an NGO with international reach.” She has been working with World Food Prize since June.
She is an intern for the Director of Secretariat Operations and is currently organizing the lecture series for the symposium, where she acts as a liaison between the organization and potential speakers that includes “past World Food Prize laureates, Borlaug Field Award winners, 40 Chances fellows and esteemed individuals in the field of food security.”
“I am very excited for World Food Prize Week … as there will be many incredible individuals in Des Moines for the Dialogue,” McKracken said.
Hueg, a senior studying environmental politics, values the mentorship, team building and networking opportunities offered by the internship.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this program,” Hueg said. “The one-on-one mentorship is so valuable to me and working on a team with other interns from a variety of backgrounds is really rewarding. I’m always busy with a different project and learn so much about the agriculture industry and truly notable people in the global food security scene.”
Hueg is working on the logistics and planning team for the Borlaug Symposium, to be held during the third week of October, a demanding job with numerous responsibilities.
“There’s projected to be around 1,500 attendees, so I assist in managing guest lists, speakers, community partners and vendors,” Hueg said. “I also do regular updates to the agenda on the website and other tasks that help keep registrants up to date on what the symposium will look like.”
As a nonprofit, the World Food Prize relies on a small staff, and interns are entrusted with a large workload.
“It can be difficult, but it is so fulfilling,” Hueg said. “We work smart and hard.”
Hueg called special attention to the financial and educational trade-offs of accepting the internship.
“It’s important to note that the internship is unpaid,” Hueg said.“I’m taking less credit hours and working less to make time in my schedule. Not every student has the capacity to sacrifice the time needed to make an unpaid internship viable for them, so I think what’s truly important is finding a way to fit what you’re passionate about into your schedule.”
For her, the internship comes from a place of passion rather than credit or financial incentives.
“I value what being a George Washington Carver Intern adds to my resume and the networking opportunities, but it is so much more about engaging in my personal passion for agriculture and food security and feeling like I’m contributing to something meaningful,” Hueg said.
While the internship is designed to fit around classes, it requires a minimum commitment of three months with at least 12 hours a week. Although the internship is unpaid, it can count for course credit.
However, Hueg notes that students who cannot sacrifice the credit hours or money of an unpaid internship have several other options for pursuing their passions.
“I think what’s truly important is finding a way to fit what you’re passionate about into your schedule,” Hueg said.“I’ve previously worked as a Drake Service Learning Ambassador, which is a paid position, or volunteered one hour a week for a cause I cared deeply about. You don’t have to be working in an unpaid internship in order to make a meaningful impact in the community.”
The World Food Prize is a $250,000 annual prize awarded to celebrate achievements in any field involved with the world food supply. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Norman E. Borlaug, a forester and plant pathologist who received a Nobel Prize for his work in influencing the “Green Revolution,” a revolution in crop science through the 1950s-70s that dramatically increased the food supply in the developing world.