The World Food Prize Foundation

Laureate Society

The World Food Prize Laureate Society is the volunteer component of the World Food Prize designed to educate visitors to the Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates. In 2009, the World Food Prize Foundation undertook the $29.8 million project to transform the former Des Moines Public Library building and give it new purpose as the home of the World Food Prize. Dedicated to carrying on the legacy of Dr. Borlaug, the art and architecture have been designed to tell several stories:

  • That Dr. Norman E. Borlaug is the “man that has saved more lives than any other person who has ever lived”,
  • That the World Food Prize is the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture” and that the World Food Prize Laureates are the leaders of the single greatest period of food production and hunger reduction in all of human history (the last 50 years);
  • That led by John Ruan, Iowa rescued the World Food Prize in 1990 and moved it to Des Moines with the goal of making Iowa “The Hunger Fighting Capital of the World”; and
  • That Iowa has an amazing agricultural and humanitarian heritage.

Orientation and Training 
Candidates for the Laureate Society will need to complete an information form and meet with the Director of the Laureate Society. The next steps include a group training session followed by a discussion and orientation tour with Kate Levasseur, Archivist and Historian at the World Food Prize Foundation. Each docent is given a docent guidebook with extensive information and background on the World Food Prize, the Hall of Laureates and the artwork in the Hall. More than 10% of the total renovation budget was devoted to commissioning exhibits and art that tell all of the stories of the Hall of Laureates.

Additional training is accomplished by new docents shadowing experienced docents learning one room at a time with the goal of being able to do a complete tour of the Hall of Laureates.  

To be a member of the Laureate Society, you should have: a desire to meet and work with people; good communication skills; ability to learn new information and the necessary time to volunteer. It is expected that a docent will volunteer from four to six hours a month. 

5 Reasons why you should join the Laureate Society

(1) You will have an opportunity to meet people from all over the world;

(2) You will be promoting a majestic downtown Des Moines landmark;

(3) You will have the chance to educate visitors about the World Food Prize - a premier Des Moines program;

(4) You will learn about and be able to share Iowa’s rich agricultural and humanitarian history; and,

(5) You will have the chance to showcase downtown Des Moines and become an integral part of your community.

For more information please contact Kate Levasseur at 

Our next information session will take place August 2, 2024 at 10:30 a.m. If you are interested in attending or learning more about the Laureate Society, please complete the Laureate Society interest form.

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