Scholarship winner is a true “hunger fighter”

November 15, 2023 1:08 PM

Jocelyn Pocernich cooking in Uganda A junior studying Environmental Studies, International Agriculture, and Horticulture at Iowa State University (ISU) is this year’s David Lambert “Hunger Fighter” scholarship winner. Jocelyn Pocernich, who has a passion for child nutrition, seed science, and global food security, was recognized at the 2023 World Food Prize celebrations in Des Moines by Dr. Manjit Misra, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“My education, travels, and internship experiences cultivated my desire to contribute to furthering global food security,” said Pocernich. “My career goals are to work in rural and urban communities, helping farmers with—and teaching school children about—sustainable farming practices.”

The “Hunger Fighter” scholarship is awarded each year to a sophomore or junior who has demonstrated interest in seed science, global food security, and/or childhood nutrition. Recipients are selected based on academic excellence, leadership acumen, and interpersonal communication skills.

The scholarship was named after Dr. David Lambert, a distinguished ISU Seed Science Center (SSC) fellow. An internationally recognized expert in global food security and a strong advocate of engaging youth in the fight against world hunger, he was a tireless champion of child nutrition, food safety, and biotechnology. The scholarship was established with contributions from his family and friends who wish to honor his memory.

The World Food Prize Youth Institutes convene high school students, teachers, and experts each year to explore and solve local, national, and global hunger and food security issues. Following Lambert’s call, Pocernich participated as a high school freshman by studying sustainable aquaponics systems in Thailand to help ease climate change challenges and improve nutrition in low-income communities. This experience led her to study environmentally sustainable horticultural systems, fruit crop production and management, and soil science.

Jocelyn Pocernich teaching primary students in UgandaShe also took advantage of study abroad opportunities at ISU, which took her to Costa Rica and India, where she learned more about pest and disease management from real crop growers.

As a volunteer for Engineers Without Borders, Pocernich worked on projects that aimed to extend the growing season for Ghanaian farmers through rainwater collection systems.

In a six-week summer internship as part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Study Abroad program in Uganda, she partnered with the Kamuli community, four primary schools, and a secondary school to establish an avocado and sustainable firewood production orchard that will benefit the students of Namasagali Primary School in central Uganda.

She also taught fifth graders on the use of organic and artificial fertilizers in their school gardens that grow vegetables for the children’s lunches.

Pocernich currently assists Dr. Ajay Nair of the Department of Agronomy in his vegetable production lab.

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