2014 Young Scholar: Rowan Alden

Back: Aaron Preston, NSW Committee Coordinator Helen Scott-Orr, Mardee Cassin, Rowan Alden
Back: Aaron Preston, NSW Committee Coordinator Helen Scott-Orr, Mardee Cassin, Rowan Alden
Front: Julia de Bruyn, Katherine Ashley, Kirsty McCormack

Rowan Alden

Charles Sturt University
Sponsored by the NSW Committee

Rowan is a 3rd year Bachelor of Science (BSc) student at Charles Sturt University (CSU). She aims to commence Honours in 2015, followed by a PhD. This year she is completing an internship with the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation where she is increasing her understanding of pasture research. Rowan currently hold positions on the CSU Council, the CSU School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences board and the Student Consultative Committee for BSc. Rowan understands the importance of international research and will complete an exchange with Otago University and an internship with the University’s Centre for Sustainability in 2015. Rowan is greatly interested in the issue of food security and feels that this conference will help inform her of the research that is being conducted in this area.

Conference report

This conference … has inspired me to widen my views about my own career and the part that I can play in ensuring food security for the world.”

The Crawford Fund’s 2014 Parliamentary Conference was both inspirational and ‘eye-opening’. I have had some exposure to agricultural research, education, extension and industry, but I had never attended an event with such a strong international focus. The range of professional backgrounds and experiences that the speakers brought to the conference provided a broad discussion of many commonly recurring themes. Many of the speakers spoke on issues of: the importance of nutritional security as well as food security; the importance of family planning in order to reduce population growth; the issue of wastage; cultural restrictions that influence the ability for food and nutritional security; increasing consumer preference for high protein products; the market opportunities for high value Australian products for export; high production costs for Australian farmers; and controversial issues of biofuels and genetically modified technologies were also discussed.

The highlight of the conference for me was hearing a large emphasis of the issues of investing in women, youth and the environment. These are three key issues that I feel are extremely important and yet, sometimes in the Australian agricultural sector, it can feel like these three issues are being forgotten. To hear that key goals within the international agricultural community are overcoming these issues is extremely uplifting for me. This conference and especially Catherine Bertini’s talk at the Young Scholar’s Day has inspired me to widen my views about my own career and the part that I can play in ensuring food security for the world.

This conference also provided me with a unique opportunity to converse with like-minded students. It was encouraging to hear that other students are experiencing similar difficulties such as entering agricultural education from a non-farming background, for example. Discussing our own backgrounds and future directions was also very motivating as it highlighted that there are many young people who have the similar goals for the future.

I was also greatly surprised by the number of undergraduate students who were on the Young Scholar’s Program. Many of the events that I attend are dominated by researchers and post-graduates and I am often the only undergrad. I think that it is really important to invest in undergraduate students to encourage them into the field of food security research and development. For this reason, I have organised funding for eight undergraduate students to attend the ‘Food Security and the Murray Darling Basin’ conference hosted by the Institute for Land, Water and Society, in November. The knowledge that I have gained from the conference will help me to provide information to the group who have limited knowledge of food security issues. I will also present what I have learnt at the conference at a meeting that I am organising for the group.

I would like to thank the Crawford Fund for providing me with this extremely valuable opportunity to learn and network with other students and delegates.