It is estimated that every day 11.3% of the world goes hungry. That’s 805 million people. Milbank High School junior, Jimmie Berkner, aims to reduce that number.
Berkner, daughter of Curt and Diane Berkner, was selected as one of just 200 exceptional high school students from the U.S. and several other countries to join a three-day symposium at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in DesMoines, IA.
She submitted a research paper on Ghana, a sub-region of West Africa, it’s water security and sanitation problems, as an assignment in her independent Agriculture class taught by Jerry Janisch. Her paper went on to the state level where she presented suggestions and solutions. She was then chosen as one of three students to advance to the national World Food Prize Global Youth Institute.
“Before I got involved in this project, I didn’t think there was anything I could do to aid world hunger,” Berkner said. “Now I realize this program exists in South Dakota and there are things I can do locally and around the world.”
Berkner regularly volunteers at the Orphan Grain Train in Milbank. The Orphan Grain Train is a national Christian network which prepares and
packs meals, food, blankets, and medical supplies to 64 countries, including the U.S. She also volunteers at the Grant County Food Pantry.
While at the Institute, she gave a two minute explanation of her paper which was followed by a three-minute question and answer session with judges from China, India, and Perdue University. “It was intimidating at first,” she said, “but once I got talking, I saw the judges were relaxed and nice and my nerves went away.”
Berkner was also able to tour the Hall of Laureates, listen to speakers, and assist with a food packing project. She said a highlight of her experience was meeting the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, from Bangladesh. Hasan Abed pioneered a program (formerly known as BRAC) in his home country. It is now considered to be the largest non-profit in the world both in terms of employees and people served.
Berkner aspires to travel to Ghana someday. She prefers a direct approach, “building relationships with people, educating them, and helping them to help themselves.”