Bumpers College Honors Student Harris Wins Szymoniak Award at World Food Prize Ceremony

Sam Harris, center, with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie.
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Sam Harris, center, with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sam Harris, an agricultural business and agricultural communications double major at the University of Arkansas, was presented the Elaine Szymoniak Award as the top Borlaug-Raun International Intern at the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, on Oct. 15.

Harris, an honors freshman in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, was named the winner after completing an internship in India through the World Food Prize Foundation, submitting a research paper and making an oral presentation on his project. Criteria include thoroughness and impact in promoting education, health, economic development, equality and justice.

"I was honored to be recognized as having one of the best research reports," said Harris, who is from Greenbrier. "Elaine Szymoniak was a fierce leader in agriculture and social justice. Being recognized with an award in her name is truly an honor."

Harris attended the World Food Prize Foundation's Global Youth Institute with Arkansas FFA in 2012 and continued his involvement as a GYI volunteer group leader while at Greenbrier High School until his 2014 summer internship.

"My research focused on the smallholder farmers' perception of new agricultural technologies and how those perceptions affect the adoption rate of those new technologies," said Harris. "Essentially, it examined how misconceptions restrict developing societies from adopting farming methods that have the potential to dramatically increase yield and alleviate food insecurity. It's an important topic to help ensure government, non-government organizations and private sector initiatives are reaching audiences that need agricultural literacy and training the most."

Harris, who interned at Mahyco Hybrid Seed Co. in Jalna, Maharashtra, India, was selected for the Szymoniak Award from a field of 24 other interns. He was one of only four students recognized at the ceremony with 29 states represented.

During his internship, Harris assisted the business strategies department and conducted background research, focus group discussions with farmers and extension agents, and collected data for his project. His research aligns with his goal of establishing a career in international rural development and eventually agricultural public policy in Washington, D.C.

"I'm very proud of Sam and his accomplishments," said Jill Rucker, assistant professor of agricultural education, communication and technology. "It's a great honor to work with outstanding students who will be the difference makers in the future of agriculture."

Previous winners of the award, established in 2001, attended Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Iowa, Iowa State, Marquette, Nebraska and St. Olaf College.

About the Elaine Szymoniak Award: Szymoniak is a former state senator from Iowa known for her dedicated public service and efforts to save the World Food Prize, which is an international award recognizing individuals who advance human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Borlaug-Raun International Internship gives high school students eight weeks of hands-on experience with world-renowned scientists and policymakers at research centers around the world.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity.

Contacts

Robby Edwards, director of communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
479-575-4625, robbye@uark.edu


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