The ILRI 2018 Annual Report> Capacity building

ILRI/Apollo Habtamu
Woman holding egg

ILRI recognized at the 2018 World Food Prize

ILRI has participated in the WFP’s internship program for nearly 20 years

The prestigious World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Internship provides high school students an eight-week, hands-on experience working with world-renowned scientists and policymakers at leading research centres around the globe. Since 1998, the World Food Prize has sent over 300 students on Borlaug-Ruan International Internships at 34 of the world’s top agricultural research centres. Through the internship program, the student becomes an integral part of her or his assigned project, spending time in the lab, as well as days or weeks at a time in the field, conducting research and gathering data.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has participated in the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship since the program began, 19 years ago. Twenty-three United States (US) high school students participated in an internship at ILRI. ILRI recently asked former participants about their experience and how it shaped their lives. A few of the responses, edited for length and clarity, follow.

Wellington Ekaya, ILRI’s head of capacity development, received a Plaque of Appreciation at last year’s World Food Prize Convention and Award Ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on behalf of ILRI and joined the World Food Prize international roll of mentors. The plaque was in recognition of ILRI’s continuing participation in the prestigious World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program. In his acceptance remarks, Ekaya said that ‘capacity development is one of ILRI’s three strategic objectives, and so it is always a pleasure and privilege to mentor young minds into agriculture, and to grow the next generation of global leaders’.

Alisa Evans (2018)

My internship crystalized my goal of wanting to become a veterinarian and work in the developing world. It made me more aware about the specific causes of global food insecurity from diseases such as East Coast Fever and how these diseases can be controlled. If we can control livestock diseases, then more meat will be available and we can eventually eliminate world hunger.

Sydney Sherer (2018)

My internship at ILRI opened my eyes to a lot of the issues that our world is facing and will face in the future when it comes to food insecurity. I was also able to gain first-hand experiences with policy makers and scientists in Kenya who are leading the way when it comes to developing better policies and technologies regarding a wide range of topics from women’s education to the accessibility of healthcare in rural areas. This experience also allowed me to see first-hand how hard it is for scientists to get their improved technologies accepted by the government and then by the people. This process is necessary to ensure the safety of consumers, but it is hard for scientists to navigate this process on their own. That is why I will eventually pursue a degree in Food and Agricultural Law.

Hannah Heit (2017)

I served as a Borlaug-Ruan Intern at ILRI in Addis Ababa, where I conducted research on an improved breed of chicken. My experience with ILRI allowed me to solidify my passion for combating food insecurity through improving animal agriculture. I am currently an undergraduate but I plan to pursue a Master in Public Health and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine with hopes of reducing the prevalence of zoonotic diseases which threaten the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa. I am very grateful for the opportunities that ILRI provided me because they helped shape my career goals of combating global food insecurity and improving the world's food supply through international agricultural development and veterinary medicine.

Dylan Lampe (2016)

This internship completely reshaped my world view when it came to global food insecurity. Back in high school, I did a lot of research on food insecurity, and I thought I knew what I was talking about. Of course, living in Iowa, most, if not all, of my research was very abstract. I never put a face to these issues. I didn't know what true poverty looked like or how people were fighting to get food out of some of the most infertile soil in the world. This inspired a passion in me to help combat global food insecurity for the rest of my life.

Trisha Web Collins (2010)

My experience at ILRI really opened up windows of opportunity for me, especially at Iowa State University. I came from a small high school with limited science equipment, but my internship at ILRI put me a step ahead of my peers and I got a job at the college’s world-renowned diagnostic laboratory as an undergraduate freshman. This eventually led to a variety of internship and job opportunities within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and even in private pharmaceutical companies like Boehringer-Ingelheim.

I learned about the importance of not only research, but extension and direct application to farmers in the field. This helped prepare me for a summer experience working alongside the Iowa State College of Ag and Life Sciences and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, writing a published research paper on the importance of safeguarding genetic biodiversity in different cattle breeds. This also led to my interest in the double major of international agriculture as an undergrad and my Master in Public Health which I pursued along with my professional school. ILRI taught not only the importance of science and research, but also extension and application to farmers in the field. What good is a new technology if it cannot be put to good use?

I am just getting started in my career, and my long-term plans are to work directly with livestock and food security on an international level. I would not have this passion and interest without ILRI.

Abbey Canon (2004)

With the support of the World Food Prize and ILRI at age 19, I completed a research project concerning international nutrition and animal-source foods. Surveying the Ethiopian meat industry gave me an unimaginable opportunity to immerse myself in international public health and experience a beautiful country and culture.

Since interning at ILRI in 2004, I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and international agriculture, a Master of Public Health degree, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, and became board certified as a specialist in veterinary public health. I have held various roles in veterinary public health with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state health departments, veterinary colleges, and food security and public health organizations. In almost all of my roles, I focus on improving human health through animal health.

My placement at ILRI, the fantastic and flexible mentorship I received, and the opportunities it opened when I returned were exactly why I chose and have been successful in my career path.

Jerad Chipman (2003)

My Borlaug-Ruan Internship at ILRI in Ethiopia has had a substantial effect on my career and personal outlook. I grew up on a farm in western Iowa. I appreciated the farming lifestyle, but I knew that farming was not going to be my long-term career path. I am currently serving as a senior planner at the Village of Montgomery, Illinois, a career that is a direct result of the time that I spent in Ethiopia, learning about people, cities, governments and nations. In my role as a municipal planner, I am able to work with the community towards the goals of sustainability, equality and progressing towards a better built environment. The internship has also inspired me to travel as often as possible.

Shawn Thomas (2002)

My internship at ILRI in Ethiopia in 2002 has had an impact on my entire career. Following my internship, I pursued ecology and animal science. I then became a veterinarian. After initially focusing on small animal medicine, my interests shifted towards public health. I have since commissioned in the US Army. As an Army veterinarian, I now work in food safety and public health (human and animal health), both in the US and throughout the world.

My internship at ILRI was the first time I had ever left the US. It opened me up to a new world and new experiences. It also taught me lessons I continue to use throughout my career. Before ILRI, I had never worked with large animals or milk. Some of the lessons I began learning at ILRI included how to talk to and work with people from different backgrounds, how to work (and milk) cattle, and how to collect and analyse scientific data. As my career progressed, I have had many other teachers of these lessons, but working in the dairy co-operative in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, spending afternoons in the barns and stables at ILRI, and working with the scientists at ILRI is where I had my very first lessons. These have stuck with me my entire life.

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, had this to say regarding ILRI’s contribution to introducing young minds to agriculture through hosting the international interns:

Given the exceptional research achievements and extraordinary leadership of ILRI, it has been an unparalleled honor to partner with ILRI on the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship. Since 2001, ILRI has inspired 23 US high school students to pursue education and careers in animal science and agriculture. And, as a direct result of the mentorship they received from the staff at ILRI, are now seeking solutions on how to sustainably and nutritiously feed the over nine billion people who will be on our planet in 2050. Dr Norman Borlaug, the founder of the World Food Prize Foundation, was incredibly grateful for this collaborative partnership, which we continue in his honour.

Better lives through Livestock

The Human Face of Sustainable
Livestock Development

International Livestock Research Institute2018 Annual Report

Ethiopian girl drinking milk produced by the family cow
ILRI/Apollo Habtamu


Jimmy Smith (l) received a doctorate with honoris causa and gave the commencement speech at the University of Melbourne, Australia, on 6 Dec 2018, with Lindsay Falvey (r).
University of Melbourne

2018 was a year of continuing progress and solid achievement for ILRI—and for that we remain both grateful and proud. Thanks to our staff, our partners, our donors and the governments with whom we work, ILRI is helping countless farmers and other stakeholders in the livestock sector in the developing world live better lives through livestock. It is helping to raise household incomes, improve human nutrition and health, fight devastating livestock diseases, breed more productive and drought-resistant animals, redress gender imbalances, enhance biodiversity and develop livestockrelated policies that will address, mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In past reports, we’ve noted that the global demand for animal-source foods continues to grow rapidly in developing and emerging countries, a phenomenon we’ve dubbed the “livestock revolution.” In Africa, for example, the demand for livestock-derived foods is projected to increase by 80% from 2010 to 2030, mostly because of population growth. Asia, already the largest consumer of livestock-derived foods, will see a nearly 60% jump in consumption—and much of that will be due to rising incomes and greater urbanization.

The breadth of the opportunities these figures represent requires new science and new research results that are taken to scale. This report highlights just a few of the many activities ILRI staff have undertaken in the past year.

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In the lab

Good science is the foundation of ILRI’s work

ILRI Information products 2018

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In the field

ILRI is committed to research for development

ILRI Offices and staff worldwide

ILRI/Apollo Habtamu

Capacity building

Building local capacity and mentoring the next generation of agriculture scientists site usage

Top 2018 science publications from ILRI programs

We thank ILRI's many partners and donors