FFA WEEK: Tackling world hunger through FFA
By KAREN SCHWALLER
SIBLEY-Jacob Schultz said that he frequently heard about how great it was to be in FFA, so when he became a high school freshman, signing up for that organization was a top priority.
Four years later, he’s on his way to interview for an international internship with the World Food Prize, through his involvement in FFA. Nearly 100 students from around the world applied this year, and only 23 internships will be awarded.
“I have my passport now,” Schultz said, hoping he is one of the 23. “I’m pretty good at speaking and I feel confident that I can get one of the internships.”
He will find out in late winter if he is accepted.
Schultz, 17, is a senior at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School. He has attended both state and national FFA conventions in his FFA career, and currently holds the position of chapter sentinel and District FFA sentinel.
He will run for a state FFA office this spring.
Schultz lives on a farm near Melvin, where they grow grain and have two hog finishing facilities. His SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project is working on that family farm.
He has been involved with various career development projects as well through FFA, including creed speaking, parliamentary procedure, job interviewing and “Experience the Action,” done before judges that would be a recruiting tool for students to join FFA.
Schultz’s first presentation centered around using Snapchat for that purpose. This year he wants to change it up, choosing to do a makeshift television segment, such as a talk show with videos.
Schultz said one of the things he’s appreciated most about FFA besides numerous leadership opportunities and group recreational activities, is the traveling. FFA has taken him to Louisville, Kentucky; Indianapolis, Indiana; and this spring it will take him to Washington D.C. and Florida, a trip he earned through his successful efforts in the chapter’s annual FFA fruit sales.
This month he will interview for an internship with the World Food Prize, an organization that emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people, in an effort to combat world hunger.
Founder Norman Borlaug saw the prize as a means of establishing role models who would inspire others.
Schultz wrote a five-page paper on a country of his choice, giving background of the country and outling food problems it faces. He then selected a specific issue with that country to illustrate. His country was Sierra Leone, Africa and its food security problems relating to problems with its rural infrastructure.
“I had to tell what’s wrong with (the infrastructure) and say what is already being done in the country to help that problem, and you have to come up with your own possible solutions that could be implemented in that country, also,” he said.
Schultz said he has never been to Africa, but spent copious hours researching the country for that paper, trying to get a feel for it, and coming up with his own possible solutions.
His paper was good enough to gain him acceptance into the Iowa Youth Institute last April, where he and that group met with business leaders, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, and professors from Iowa State University, and participated in “immersion” activities-such as the making of bio-diesel and how that helps the world.
“We also did a round-table discussion with other kids, and we talked about our papers and how we thought we could help the world,” he said.
Schultz revised that paper and resubmitted it for the Global Youth Institute, and was accepted there as well. That brought him and 300 other youth from around the world to Des Moines to the World Food Prize building, where he and other youth met with other world “laureates” who are leading developers and researchers of the technology needed to combat world hunger.
“We did our same round-table discussion again, only this time it was with kids from all over the world,” said Schultz. “There was a girl from Canada in my group so I got to listen to her talk about her country. A guy talked to us about a business he started in Africa, and a woman president from one of the countries in Africa (one of only three women presidents from Africa) talked to us and was telling us to continue what we’re doing and to do as much as we could to try to help the world.”
Following that conference, Schultz applied for an eight-week Borlaug-Ruan International Internship and will interview for it this week in Des Moines.
“I’ll get to talk to some of the leaders in the World Food Prize,” he said.
He said if he is accepted, he can do things such as traveling the world working with food issues such as grain genetics, working with livestock illnesses in other countries, and networking with native populations about food and food issues in their countries.
Looking ahead for the long term, Schultz plans to attend Iowa State University next year to major in agronomy. He hopes to return to Northwest Iowa after that to work with farmers, helping them make good agronomic decisions.
“I want to be out in the fields, not sitting behind a desk,” he said.
For the short term, he said if he becomes a state FFA officer (which he will know by late winter), he would like to go into local schools and educate young students about farming and farm practices. And he would encourage them to join FFA someday.
He sees some of the top agricultural issues of the day being food distribution to third-world countries, governmental regulations, finding herbicides that will work on resistant weeds, politics in agriculture and misinformation about agriculture in the general public.
Schultz said he owes his success in FFA to an advisor who pushed him to do bigger things.
“I’ve had great teachers here. I wouldn’t be trying to for a state officer position if Mr. Gottlob hadn’t pushed me,” he said. “Since I started he knew I would be somebody who likes to get involved and he’s asked me to do a lot of things. He has pushed me to do absolutely everything I can in FFA.”
FFA Chapter Advisor Brian Gottlob said his first year at Sibley-Ocheyedan was Schultz’ freshman year.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with Jacob. He’s extremely energetic and passionate, and he sets huge goals,” Gottlob said. “I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in the next couple of years. He’s got a great opportunity with that international internship.
“Jacob and I are quite similar in the way that we push each other for bigger goals, maybe to the extent of too big of goals.”
Schultz said the experiences he’s had through FFA have benefited him, if mostly in his ability now to be able to more easily talk to people.
“When I first started this, it was all new and fun,” he said. “Now I want to help everyone else have that kind of fun – to help them gain these experiences and keep going in agriculture.
“I want to continue that FFA legacy.”
Schultz is also involved in solo and group speech, school plays, shooting sports, National Honor Society, band and choir. He is the son of Ty and Kari Schultz, of Melvin.
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