Clarkdale Cooper Johnson

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Cooper Johnson of Clarkdale High School won a trip to Iowa as part of World Food Prize Institute competition.

Several Lauderdale County students competed and won scholarships from a recent virtual institute meeting at Mississippi State University.

Four members of the Future Farmers of America Club at Clarkdale High School, Cooper Johnson, Harley Strickland, Jake Jone and Kayla Joiner, were among the winners in the World Food Prize Youth Institute at MSU.

Johnson was the overall winner, earning a $500 scholarship and a trip to Iowa for the World Food Prize Summit in October. Strickland and Jones also received scholarships and were named alternates for the summit.

The institute provides a life-changing experience for high school students to engage with local leaders and experts on critical global challenges, participate in hands-on activities and explore ways to make a difference in Mississippi and around the world, according to a website. 

The event is usually held at the university, but due to COVID-19 the program was held via ZOOM.

Johnson is a rising junior at the school and is in his second year in FFA.

"It was interesting to hear others and their ideas what FFA could do for other countries," Johnson said.

Students had to write a research paper on a certain issue, such as poverty, and how FFA will help to solve the problem, Clarkdale FFA teacher Toni Buchanan said. Johnson is the second student in the last year who has won a scholarship and will be going to Iowa, Buchanan said.

Johnson wrote his paper on poverty and Somalia's lack of education. His paper also focused on how the FFA organization can teach Somalians farming techniques such as raising pigs, he said.

He's looking forward to the experience.

"I'm super excited to go to Iowa because of the different land structure and agriculture that is in Iowa, and it's always cool to travel to different places, especially when you win the trip," Johnson said.

The Mississippi Youth Institute is hosted by MSU with the support of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Barry L. and Lana B. White, and the Madison Charitable Foundation.

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