Posted: October 6, 2017

Eight-month intensive program takes students from Minnesota to Washington, D.C. to Africa for a comprehensive look at challenges and solutions to global food security

A competitive, immersive fellowship program designed to give college sophomores an up-close view of global food security and agricultural innovation is expanding to Penn State this year, with an informational session taking place on campus Tuesday, Oct. 10. The program, known as the Land O'Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security™ fellowship, is open to all college sophomores interested in purposeful careers that address hunger and sustainability.

Land O'Lakes, Inc., a national, farmer-owned cooperative, created the Global Food Challenge program in 2014 to engage future leaders in the challenges and opportunities facing agriculture in the coming decades. The program, which runs from January to August 2018, intentionally showcases the diverse and meaningful opportunities a career in food and agriculture can provide, including those in fields that students may not associate with agribusiness.

"From ag technology to sustainability, agronomy, marketing or government affairs, a career in modern agriculture is as dynamic as the industry itself," said Lydia Botham, vice president, Community Relations, Land O'Lakes, Inc. "We encourage students from all majors to consider the growing industry that is food and ag, and discover how they can be instrumental in helping to feed a growing global population and eliminating food insecurity here in the U.S. and around the world."

Cultivating the next generation of agriculture leaders, and recruiting bright minds to help address the trials that agriculture will face, is critically important. In the next thirty years, agricultural output will need to increase by 70 percent while using the same amount of land that is used today, in order to feed a global population expected to hit 9.8 billion by 2050. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University found in a 2015 study that every year, nearly 60,000 jobs in the agriculture, food, renewable resources, and environment fields become available, yet only 35,000 graduates with agriculture-related degrees are available to fill them.

In three years, the program has exposed 31 students from six universities to Land O'Lakes' farm-to-fork operations in areas spanning supply chain, sustainable food production, marketing and communications and agricultural policy as well as Land O'Lakes International Development projects. Between the first two classes of Emerging Leaders, 50 percent of students returned to Land O'Lakes for a second internship. This year, Land O'Lakes is expanding the program to five additional universities, including Penn State.

The informational session will take place in the 214 Business Building Conference Room, 6-7 p.m. on Oct. 10. Applications are due on October 30.

The student experience runs from January through August 2018. Throughout the academic year, Emerging Leaders are paired with university professors and complete assignments designed to spur thinking about food security issues and educate their peers about career opportunities in agriculture through hosting on-campus events. During the summer, Emerging Leaders participate in a full-time internship at Land O'Lakes, Inc. headquarters in Minnesota where they develop actionable proposals for Land O'Lakes to address an agricultural or food insecurity challenge.

To further expand their knowledge of the agriculture industry, Emerging Leaders travel to rural agriculture cooperatives and farms across the United States, meet with policymakers in Washington, D.C. and visit Land O'Lakes International Development projects in Africa. Emerging Leaders also participate in industry events during their tenure and serve as ambassadors for Land O'Lakes and the agriculture and the food industries during and after the program.

Students are selected through a competitive application process that includes submitting a one-minute video, brief questionnaire and resume. Sophomores with an expected graduation date of May or December 2020 will be considered if they have demonstrated leadership in their campus and community among other qualifications.

Students pursuing all majors are encouraged to apply.

Students for the 2017-18 class of Land O'Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security will be selected and notified of their participation in December 2017. Additional resources: