Youth Enter National History Day Competition

July-September 2002

George Cummins , crop field specialist


Two Pocahontas County eighth graders, Joe Pudenz and Jake Brinkman, wished to enter the National History Day competition. Their project was to develop a documentary presentation and the topic they selected was Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Iowa-born winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Looking for references and resources, they contacted Nancy Jenson, Pocahontas Co. CEED.


Jenson passed the request to John Holmes, her area crop specialist who passed the request to me. I have personally met with Dr. Borlaug as a representative of a private volunteer organization providing simple mechanization to one of his projects; as one of the hosts at the National Association of County Ag Agents (NACAA) Annual Meeting where Dr. Borlaug received the Service to World/ American Agriculture Award; at the World Food Prize ceremonies; and planning for the 25th Anniversary Field Day at the Northeast Research Farm near Nashua. Via email, I shared my NACAA files and my personal notes and Borlaug clippings file. I also got them in touch with Don Arendt, the former Howard Co CEED who is the secretary of the Norman Borlaug Foundation in Cresco and with Chris Dowswell, Dr. Borlaug's administrative assistant at CIMMYT, the international maize center near Mexico City . Arendt arranged for the boys to visit the Borlaug Farm near Cresco which is being restored as an educational center and also to meet Dr. Borlaug's sister, Charlotte, who lives in Cresco. Dowswell provided a comprehensive resume' plus a number of appropriate photographs of Dr. Borlaug and his work.


Pudenz and Brinkman won the regional competition held March 13th at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake . The boys advanced to the final round of the competition in Des Moines on April 29th. Their ten-minute video was not selected to advance to the national competition in Maryland but they did receive awards for editing and use of photographs. Copies of the video were provided to the Borlaug Foundation in Cresco and to me. They will also be shared with the public libraries in Pocahontas County in conjunction with the statewide Norman Borlaug Day in Iowa October 16th.


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