Plant Health Directions from the NextGen

August 18, 2020

The Crawford Fund International Agricultural Science Award winners were announced on 18 August during National Science Week, at a special virtual Awards Ceremony for the 2020 ‘Plant Health’ DAF Hermitage Schools Plant Science Competition.  The Crawford Fund’s Queensland Committee has been sponsoring the Hermitage Schools Plant Science Competition for the past 8 years.

As part of our NextGen program, the Crawford Fund worked with the event organisers at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to bring a focus on international agricultural research for the audience of high school students.

Our Queensland Chair, Professor Kaye Basford followed Dr Beth Woods, Director General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with a message to the winners and the students attending, encouraging them to think about being our next generation of international agricultural scientists.

“We have been excited to see the array of exceptional entries received in response to the global food security task that is offered in the competition each year.  This year’s award winners have certainly produced outstanding reports, presentations and even a very creative Lego animation to communicate their research,” said Kaye.

“Today you will be hearing from two of the Queenslanders who have received Crawford Fund support and who have gone on to work in developing countries in agricultural research. You know working overseas can make a big difference to people’s lives and is something that you could do too,” she told the online audience.

This year’s task for students was to research three key constraints to the plant health of a field crop in a developing country and suggest directions for future research and communicate your findings via any style you wish.

The winner in the year 10-12 category was Michelle Springolo, year 10, Groves Christian College of Distance Education who focused on constraints to plant health of maize in Nigeria (see attached). The runner-up Spencer Naumann, year 10, Centenary Heights State High School produced a Leggo animation on rice production in Nepal.

In the years 7-9 category, Thomas Johnson, year 8, Faith Christian School of Distance Education focused on pineapples in PNG (see attached) and runner-up Charlotte Tonissen, year 8, Good Shepherd College on millet in Niger.

As part of the event, the Crawford Fund organised a live NextGen session which commenced with the showing of the Fund’s new Youth Voices video, followed by live presentations with Tamaya Peressini, Graduate Assistant at ACIAR and Bec Cotton, President of the Researchers in Agriculture for International Development.

Bec Cotton (left). Tamaya Peressini (right).

The Fund’s NextGen program produced three other online events for National Science Week, reported separately.