DES MOINES - An internship available at the World Food Prize will allow participants to learn directly how an international non-profit organization operates.
A dozen youths have been selected for this summer.
The George Washington Carver internships started in 2000 to not only allow interns to gain exceptional experience, but also to help fill a void at the foundation.
World Food Prize Ambassador Kenneth Quinn said the organization had a small working staff and wanted students to get onboard to help as interns.
Since then, the program has grown immensely.
Currently the World Food Prize is offering the GWC internships through each academic semester and in the summer.
"They are an invaluable service," Quinn said.
Named after former Iowa State University Professor George Washington Carver, the internship program is made up of a select group of highly qualified undergraduates and graduate students.
The interns are given the opportunity to take significant responsibility and initiative in planning and carrying out a wide range of the World Food Prize's projects.
"The program is terrific," said Quinn. "It gives them the opportunity to be a part of a team by planning and implementing events. They are all involved."
Each intern works with a staff member/mentor, gaining real world, on-the-job meaningful experience at the World Food Prize, according to Quinn.
Some of the internships, he said, have eventually turned into careers.
In fact, six staff members have been GWC interns. Quinn said the mentors watch them, and if a position opens up, that opportunity may become available to the interns.
In addition to other responsibilities, Quinn said the internship's duties are largely about event planning, which provides them with many opportunities.
One of those is meeting people, including international dignitaries.
"The interns are almost, literally, rubbing shoulders with significant people around the world," said Quinn. "One being Tony Blair, former British prime minister, for example."
Many of the interns are involved with communications, where they help with work being done to the foundation's website, keeping social media updated and, most recently, helped put together a very extensive piece of history covering the World Food Prize's 30 years.
Quinn added that the interns are also a very integral part of helping with the foundation's youth program.
The interns become a part of the World Food Prize's family, and, in the past, the staff has come together in times of need for those interns.
"We had an intern student from Brazil who was seriously injured in a car accident," Quinn said. "Myself and other staff members came to be by his side and now he is better, back in school and we even had the opportunity to go and watch one of his varsity volleyball games."
During the current semester, there are 12 interns from Drake University, Simpson College and Iowa State University serving the World Food Prize.
Nina Ford, of Marshalltown, is an Iowa State University student. She'll be at the World Food Prize as a public relations/communications intern.
She is planning to graduate in 2018 and is majoring in public relations with a minor in general business.
"I not only wanted to learn the basics of communications and public relations," she said, "but the World Food Prize is definitely a place where I feel I am able to contribute to society."
Ford has been at the World Food Prize since the middle of January and has been assisting her mentor, Nicole Barreca, with a variety of duties revolving around the communication efforts at the foundation.
"I have been working on press releases, posting on social media, making media lists and helping with the monthly newsletters and other World Food Prize events," said Ford. "I have learned so much and this had definitely been a rewarding experience to help with communications for an organization that tries to alleviate those issues of hunger and poverty."
Being able to work at the World Food Prize, Ford said, has already been one of her greatest achievements.
"It's incredible to have such an influence in international activities," she said. "It's nice to know that I was able to make a difference and be a huge help with the World Food Prize and help with their events and activities."
Ford is able to fulfill her duties as a GWC internship while still being able to attend college. She has also been instrumental in helping with the upcoming Iowa Youth Institute that is put on by the World Food Prize.
"That has been a big planning process and I have been excited to help out with that," she said.
As an ag business major working on a minor in agronomy at ISU, Allison Jamison, of Van Meter, said she is excited for her opportunity as a GWC intern to explore the agricultural potential of the foundation.
"The World Food Prize deals with hunger issues and I am excited to see, with my major, what I will be able to do with that in the world and see how I can help and see how it all might connect on the back-end of things," said Jamison. "The ways farmers and agribusinesses in the world, how they can connect with communities and help them thrive is definitely something that interests me in the future."
Jamison said she has been helping with making the Iowa Hunger Directory at the World Food Prize, where she has taken a lead on that project to help get it published.
She said her GWC internship has provided her with first-hand experience with the community gardening program in Des Moines.
"I found it so interesting that they have a refugee program and employ them to work at the community gardens," said Jamison. "That was neat for me to see the community and the refugees coming together to fill a need to help those in Iowa."
She added she's been elated to be chosen for the GWC internship.
"This has been a great opportunity to have available to me and so thankful to be chosen," she said. "The World Food Prize is a prestigious organization to work for. They work with so many great organizations and to be able to connect with them has been a blessing."