Tas Committee: 2015 Scholars

Tas Committee Sponsored Scholars

“The Tasmanian committee supported two scholars to attend the conference, Miriam McCormack and Katie Mulder, both undergraduate students at the University of Tasmania. Both really enjoyed the conference and all the networking, with other scholars, the researchers, the speakers and the Crawford staff. They both thought that the Scholars day after the conference was even better for them, giving them direct guidance as to how to get into the international scene, and enthusing them with its prospects. As with many of the conference attendees, Cary Fowler, with his presentations and the film, was the highlight of the whole event. The Tasmanian committee is also supporting Miriam in her honours project at UTAS, which involves fieldwork in Vietnam, so the conference and associated activities  complemented her year’s work nicely,” said Dr Neville Mendham, Coordinator of the Tasmanian Committee.

Click on the links below to view scholar bios and conference reports.

Miriam McCormack, University of Tasmania
Katie Mulder, University of Tasmania
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2015 Tas Committee sponsored scholars
2015 Tas Committee sponsored scholars

Miriam McCormack

Ever since I was very small I have been captivated by the thought of work and travel abroad. Watching my father jet off to conferences and meetings in exotic locations certainly sowed a seed for me. It has been a challenging pleasure over the last few years to study agriculture and see two of my passions unite—food and the lure of distant lands. Food production and distribution has held a prominent place in dinner table conversations at my parents’ house for many years now, and after making my way through school with a humanities bent, I decided to draw my attention to these issues at a tertiary level. In between study I have enjoyed trips to France, PNG, India, Denmark and Vietnam. Since 2011, I have been undertaking a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania and am now completing an Honours project based around knowledge and technology transfer between farmers in south-central Vietnam. I have a keen interest in food security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and am looking forward to graduating this year and beginning a career in this vein.

Conference Report
It was a long journey from the frosty, deep South of Tasmania to the even frostier Capital, but the trip was worth it. It was such a wonderful treat to be surround for three days by wise, passionate faces and voices. Faces and voices that were very happy to engage with us youngsters as we shuffled our way through the majestic halls of Parliament House, to the bustling, colourful corners of Questacon. At first I was rather shy of all the accomplished researchers and leaders, even all the bright young students and workers around me. But I soon realised the opportunity to learn and be engaged far outweighed my inhibitions.
This year’s annual Crawford Conference provided myself, and many other young scholars with the chance to hear from, and even brush shoulders with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the food and agriculture business today.
I was constantly intrigued as the days rolled on to hear countless stories of innovation, opportunity and essentially, hope. Hope of a better now as well as a better future. The most rewarding part of the week for me was to be encouraged. To see and meet people at every level of power and experience and to hear first hand their accounts of journeys walked, mistakes made and lessons learned was inspiring.
I particularly enjoyed hearing Dr Cary Fowler recount his life’s work- a gift to humanity of our agricultural, genetic diversity preserved for many years to come. His documentary ‘Seeds of Time’ moved me so greatly I think I must organise a screening in my city this semester! Never have I seen a man so passionate and accomplished, yet so humble and willing to be human. Achievements such as the preservations of the seed vault at Svalbaard, Norway are a testament to our shared humanity. In a time of war, climate change, weak national policy, natural disaster, and countless other tragedies, how refreshing to know that there are those who are still making good in this world.
The scholars’ day was also thoroughly worthwhile. Although there was less grandeur in our proceedings, on a very personal level I found this deeply profitable. It was wonderful to hear from young and experienced researchers talk about how they first entered the world of international agriculture and the paths that can be taken to reach any goal. Sage advice was peppered through exotic anecdotes as academics told of trips to Africa, Asia and the Pacific. If there aim was to entice us and draw us into a life of research, they certainly made it sound alluring.
I would happily recommend this event to any of my peers and would certainly consider attending in the future. The Crawford staff we wonderful the entire time and provided us with every opportunity and convenience. Many thanks for this wonderful opportunity. I hope we meet again soon.

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Katie Mulder

My name is Katie Mulder. I wanted to come to this conference to gain a greater understanding in the research going on in developing world agriculture. I’m in my final year of university studying agricultural science and enjoy travelling overseas whenever I can. A lot of my travel has taken me to less developed countries and as a result I have a strong desire to work in this area in a practical capacity. I am interested in the soil aspect of agriculture, with land sustainability and availability being of particular interest to me.

Conference Report
The Crawford Fund Conference was a really inspiring few days. It was great to be able to be around people from all over Australia and the world that were interested in the same areas as well as people that do things you have never even heard of before.
The opportunity to get to speak with some of the scientists and organisation personnel on such an equal level was also incredibly motivating and humbling. It was great to get to talk to other students and see what they are up to and where they want to go, the ability to network at this conference was exceptionally useful for making connection later on down the track.
There were many things that were inspirational and I often found myself feeling motivated on topics that wouldn’t normally get a large amount of publicity in a usual tertiary educational setting. The overall positive, passionate and driven folk that were speakers and attendees of the conference really set the scene. I left feeling really hopeful and amazed at the projects and the people that are behind them.
Key speaker Dr. Cary Fowler was one of my favourite speakers, his life’s work viewed both in film as well as his own personal account was something I will never forget and I often think about in day to day life. It was also great to hear about his life in general and how he got where he is currently and some of the sacrifices along the way made it really sink in that some of these people have given up a lot of things not just for their own personal passion but for the future of the world and the livelihood of that world.
The scholar’s day was a great way to draw the conference to a close as all the questions and doubts about getting into this area of work could be answered and ourselves encouraged that this is truly a diverse and forever changing area and that there are so many pathways. The opportunity to hear about the different programs, organisations and job fields was a very mind opening few hours and to even hear their own personal journeys as well was pretty incredible.
The area of international agriculture is so diverse with so much opportunity and a wide array of aspects to it. The opportunity to go to the Crawford Fund Conference for 2015 was incredible and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering going in the future. It has opened many doors and encouraged me to focus on my education and the importance and opportunity that I have to learn, create, and make a difference in the world as well as look forward into the future for further development.
The staff and organisers of the event did an exceptional job in making sure we were all happy and engaged from the get go and were more than willing to answer and help organise finer details. I would like to thank those staff, organisers and the Crawford Fund for allowing me to attend and be inspired and encouraged.

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