Two UNL Students Invited to 2014 Ag Innovation Prize in Washington

East Campus pillars at enterance

Oct. 7, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — Two University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources students were invited to the World Bank in Washington, D.C., Thursday (Oct. 3) afternoon as the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced the launch of the 2014 Agricultural Innovation Prize.

Haley S. Harthoorn, a junior agribusiness student from Ainsworth and president of the Engler Agribusiness Club, and Jordyn Lechtenberg, a senior agribusiness student from Ainsworth and past president of the Engler Agribusiness Club, attended the launch of the Ag Innovation Prize competition.

The competition encourages student teams to develop innovative ways and real-world plans to address social and agricultural challenges within food systems to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world's population. 

The UNL Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program students were invited by the organizer of the prize to help with the rollout of the program. UNL was one of five schools that sent students, said Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.

"This program fits our model of creating innovative ways to create a more powerful ag system not only in the U.S., but globally to create more opportunities though agriculture and natural resource management," Field said.

In collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the competition is open to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students across all academic disciplines.

The program runs through spring 2014, when teams will compete for the chance to win a grand prize of $100,000.The Howard G. Buffet Foundation is funding the prize, which offers more than $200,000 of support. This is the largest student-focused competition of agriculture in the world.

"We view this opportunity not only for the Engler program, but for researchers and thought leaders on campus to actually begin to move the conversation about our work into a much higher plane of awareness," Field said. "This sort of opportunity gives people something to rally around. We want UNL to be a leader in this realm."

This gives UNL an opportunity to lead and have its students put good ideas to the forefront while building effective teams within the institute and college, he said.

"I'm excited to see the ideas and collaboration that will come out of the Agriculture Innovation Prize from UNL," Lechtenberg  said. "It's an unbelievable opportunity for students to be innovative in solving world challenges in our food system."

The Agricultural Innovation Prize was inspired by the upcoming release of the book "40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World", written by Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. With a foreword by Warren Buffett, "40 Chances" chronicles Howard G. Buffett's evolving views of how philanthropy, government, and the private sector can best combat hunger and poverty across the globe.

Student entries are due Feb. 28, 2014. More information about the competition is available at and at

Tom Field, Ph.D.
Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program

Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service

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