Rex named Norman Borlaug Scholar by World Food Prize
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · May 24, 2013

The World Food Prize Youth Institute named West Branch High School junior Kara Rex a Norman Borlaug Scholar.

Rex wrote a five-page paper on food security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and attended the Institute on April 29. She earned a $500 scholarship to Iowa State University and the opportunity to compete for the Wallace Carver Internship, a paid, 8-week internship in a foreign country.

“Dr. Borlaug made huge strides working to solve world hunger, so it is a huge honor to be part of his legacy,” Rex said.

WBHS social studies teacher Bill Brendlinger, who sponsored Rex, wrote a letter to the West Branch Board of Education and said Rex had her paper evaluated by high-ranking representatives of DuPont Pioneer, Heartland Global and Iowa State University.

“Kara was exceptional in representing herself and West Branch Community School District,” he wrote. “(She) handled herself with poise and confidence.”

World Food Prize Director of Iowa Education Programs Catherine Swoboda said the organization wants to increase the quantity, quality and availability of food in the world.

“That’s quite an accomplishment for a 17-year-old,” she said of Rex.

Rex’s paper’s states that Congo’s president recognizes the country needs better roads, railways and water routes to get food to the malnourished citizens in a nation where men eat first and women and children get leftovers.

The country has plenty of food and other commodities that could be exported to provide much more revenue for the country and nourishment for its citizens, Rex writes. However, millions in financial aid meant to improve roads gets squandered by corrupt officials.

“Currently, the DRC has limited their infrastructure budget to $700 million a year (yet) $430 million of that is being wasted on unnecessary resources,” Rex writes. “At this rate, it would take (the Congo) over 100 years to reach a satisfactory level (of infrastructure).”

Two organizations — Rural Development Infrastructure Support Project and United Nations Office for Project Services — are trying to get around the corrupt officials to put financial aid directly toward solving infrastructure problems, while also creating construction jobs for citizens. Rex suggests putting greater effort into infrastructure improvement instead of “feed the children campaigns” because the former will do more for more people.

Rex said she plans to major in public service and agriculture, possibly at ISU, and hopes to work with other countries to help them solve food shortages. She said she is considering pursuing a job in government, but would by interested working for the World Food Prize, too.

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