The winner of the 2009 World Food Prize is reflecting on his childhood as he’s honored this week in Iowa. Gebisa Ejeta grew up in an Ethiopian village completely cut off from the outside world, where agriculture was practiced much as it had been thousands of years earlier. He says it was his illiterate mother who imagined a better life for him through education.

“I doubt if she ever imagined that I would have a university education or would go outside the country and become a professor at Purdue University,” Ejeta said. “But, she knew if I just followed what she told me, that I would be different and I would have a different life than the people around us.”

The 59-year-old Ejeta says he may use the 250-thousand dollar World Food Prize award as seed money for an education foundation. Ejeta says he and his five children recognize how their lives have been impacted by education, and they want to give similar opportunities to other children in small African villages. Ejeta will receive the award during a ceremony Thursday night at the Iowa State Capitol. The Purdue University professor is being recognized for his work creating new drought-tolerant and weed-resistant sorghum varieties. He made his comments during an appearance on Iowa Public Radio program The Exchange.