July 9, 2020

National Science Week – NSW Event

Science for Food Security: Making a Global, Professional and Personal Difference

When: Tuesday 18 August 2020 |10.00-11.00am
How: Free and online via Zoom
Register: here – either as an individual or a group
Download: Here’s a flyer to help spread word of the event


Be inspired. Explore countries and cultures. Have a rewarding career AND make a difference. Interested? 

If you want to be motivated by the work of young Australian scientists or are looking for study, career or volunteer opportunities delivering global, professional and personal impacts, join our free live interactive 60-minute panel and Q&A during National Science Week. Hear from a group of young passionate NSW scientists talking about their diverse and rewarding work in developing countries and how you can get involved too – whatever your age. 

“We want high school and university students and the general public to know about the impact of science in global food and nutrition security, and the broad range of study, career and volunteering pathways to get them on their way,” said Cathy Reade, Director of Outreach for the Crawford Fund and manager of their NextGen program. The Fund is an Australian NGO that engages Australians in training scientists in developing countries to improve food and nutrition security.

“Our NextGen program has been providing young and not-so-young Australians with awards, scholarships, volunteering and mentoring opportunities in developing countries to encourage their interest in related studies, careers and placements but we want more of them to know about the enormous impact they can have. It’s great to be able to spread the message during National Science Week,” she said.

The Fund is working with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) Network, for this free online event on Tuesday 18 August from 10.00-11.00am. Live chat and Q&A will be elements of the event.

The event is timed to provide the best opportunity for high school teachers to have their students attend as a group from the class room, but it will also interest university students working out where they want to take their science and members of the general public who want to be inspired, possibly volunteer overseas or with an interest in science related to food and nutrition security. It’s possible to register as individuals or schools can register full classes.

The Crawford Fund will be releasing free cross-curricular teaching materials at the event, focused on food and nutrition security. By signing up for the event, the schools will automatically be provided with access to the materials.

The speakers have all been using their science skills for a global impact in a variety of countries. They have landed in their careers through different journeys – one is now working on a digital project for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; another has been splitting her life between her family’s arid outback sheep station in Far Western NSW and lush green rice paddies in Southeast Asia, while getting started on her new book deal on climate change and food security, and our final speaker has just returned from 12 months in Laos as a volunteer on the Crawford Fund’s long-term project on biosecurity.

Award winning senior ABC journalist, Sarina Locke, will be our moderator. Sarina brings her own experience having reported on Australia’s international agricultural aid programs in Indonesia and East Timor and covered issues such as climate change, environmental stewardship, agri-business, international development and trade and biosecurity for the ABC and BBC.

Introducing our speakers:

Matt Champness is back to being a ‘real’ student – doing a PhD around soil and water for smart irrigation technology to reduce labour and water use in rice systems. Prior to moving from to Griffith NSW to undertake his post graduate studies, Matt worked as an Australian Volunteer Program volunteer agronomist for 12 months in Lao PDR as part of the Crawford Fund’s 10+ year program which has involved over 50 young and not-so-young Australian volunteers and mentors working with subsistence farmers. His work focussed on increasing farmer and local government staff knowledge on the weed seed bank, even becoming a bit of an inventor, engineering an implement to assist farmers to control weeds in direct seeded rice. Matt dreams of a world free from hunger and is incredibly passionate about increasing youth engagement in agriculture. Maybe one day he’ll have his own farm, but in the meantime, he’d like to assist farmers in managing their land sustainability whilst maximising productivity to feed the growing population.

Sam Coggins has a degree in soil science, won the Sydney University Convocation Medal and has received The Horizon Scholarship, a New Colombo Plan Scholarship, and a Crawford Fund Student Award. Sam became passionate about working with smallholders following an internship at the International Rice Research Institute and a semester in Sri Lanka during his undergrad ag science degree. Sam’s main interest is leveraging digital tools (apps) to support scaling of extension services in developing countries. Sam, with two friends, 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 was then employed as a graduate at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and 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 alleviate climate risks for farmers abroad and at home. 

Anika Molesworth’s interest in climate change was spurred by experiencing the decade-long Millennium drought on her family’s farm. Anika, a NSW Crawford Fund committee member, is a passionate advocate for sustainable farming, environmental conservation and climate change action. She is a director of Farmers for Climate Action, a movement that puts farmers on the front lines of climate change and at the front and centre of the solutions. Anika has been involved in a number of research projects for international agricultural development, with field and lab work conducted in Laos and Cambodia. Anika was named the 2015 Young Farmer of the Year and a 2017 Young Australian of the Year NSW Finalist. In 2018 she was awarded the Green Globe Awards Young Sustainability Champion, and in 2019 she was named a Future Shaper by InStyle and Audi, and a Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review. Most recently, after a Homeward Bound STEMM visit to Antarctica, she signed a book deal to write about climate change and food security issues.

Matt Champness, Sam Coggins and Anika Molesworth are looking forward to motivating the NextGen of intrepid international agriculture for development students and volunteers!

Be entertained, hear the impact YOU can make and get involved.

Please register here to attend – either as an individual or a group.  Follow the Crawford Fund’s social media channels @CrawfordFund and website www.crawfordfund.org for more info.

This initiative has been supported by Inspiring Australia as part of National Science Week.