June 10, 2020
Our NextGen program continues with more blogs, videos, (now online) events and high school curriculum materials to come.
One online event will have over 1,000 agriculture and primary industries teachers, careers advisors and high school students hearing from RAID Network member and ACIAR’s former graduate, Sam Coggins on the impact of international agriculture and the diverse range of career pathways to agriculture for development, at the 2020 Agricultural Careers Expo.
The organisers report that other speakers will be top-level professionals from some of Australia’s most successful agricultural companies, and the online format removes the barriers of distance making the event available right across the country.
“From our experience with our Conference Scholars and Student Awardees and with RAID members, we know that the NextGen really connect to the fact that agriculture for development can have them working to ‘make a global difference’, as well as the opportunity to experience different countries and cultures at the farm level,” said Cathy.
“What we also hope to do in our NextGen project is get to the teachers and career advisers who may not realise that it’s not just studying agriculture that sets you on a career pathway to international agriculture – these days there’s a much more diverse range of study options such as economics, nutrition, social sciences and engineering,” she said.
Sam recently reported on his Crawford Fund student award to attend the IRRI Rice production course, and he has also been a former scholar in our conference scholarships.
“Sam has such broad range of experience through his international and Australian networks, he’s well-placed to explain the variety of career pathways he’s come across to end up in agriculture for development,” said Cathy Reade, the Crawford Fund’s Director of Outreach, and manager of the Fund’s NextGen activities.
Sam’s academic career included the University of Sydney’s University Medal and Convocation Medal but at a community level he been active in the Landcare movement, the Young Farming Champions Program, and an AgriFutures Australia Horizon Scholarship. And then there’s his international experience.
“I became passionate about working with smallholders following an internship at the International Rice Research Institute and a semester in Sri Lanka during my undergrad ag science degree,” said Sam.
Sam’s main interest is leveraging digital tools (apps) to support scaling of extension services in developing countries. With two friends, he is further developing RiseHarvest, a smartphone app designed to help farmers in Myanmar use fertiliser more effectively. This social enterprise was selected from 800 teams from 160 countries in the international Thought for Food Challenge in 2018.
Sam is now involved with his continuing work with digital tools for developing country farmers and on a large Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation digital project. He’s also doing an interdisciplinary PhD aiming to help alleviating climate risks for farmers abroad and at home.
For those of you who can’t make it to the online event, we’ve had a previous report by Nikki Dumbrell, another RAID member who had worked on ACIAR projects in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and was a Crawford Fund Scholar. She kindly agreed to front a conference of high school teachers in Adelaide on getting into agriculture for development and her blog is here.