Next Gen

Australia’s support of international agricultural development means there are innovative, rewarding and global careers available for young Australians. The Crawford Fund offers a growing set of programs to encourage passionate next generation ‘nextgen’ students, researchers and farmers in their studies and careers and into volunteering opportunities in agriculture for development.

We deliver opportunities through our partnership with Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) Network by providing scholarships to our annual conferences and specially developed scholar activities; through our international agricultural student awards; and, by providing volunteering opportunities within our mentoring program.

Our activities have been given an added boost in 2019-20 with funding from ACIAR to add to the wonderful work already underway by a myriad of organisations and influencers encouraging young Australians into agriculture – we will be raising the profile of study and careers in international agricultural research and management.

A career in international agricultural research is challenging and rewarding with unlimited opportunities. Read more about what we offer below.

RAID – connect and engage

RAID is an active network of early to mid-career researchers with an interest in agriculture and international development, through which they share knowledge and opportunities, build research capacity, and communicate the value of agricultural research.

We value the contribution of our ‘nextgen’, with RAID having an increasingly active role in Crawford Fund activities. The Fund partners with RAID to connect, engage and support up-and-coming researchers in Australia, and while RAID operates as an independent committee of the Fund, RAID members work with us in our outreach, capacity building and State Committee programs.

RAID provides the ‘keynote listeners’ report and helps deliver the Conference Scholars activities at the Crawford Fund Annual Conference each year, resulting in young researchers mentoring and motivating university students into a rewarding, interesting and diverse career path.

A pivotal part of RAID’s vision is its public and professional presence, which is achieved through its online profile, networking events, professional development workshops and its partnership building. RAID’s membership continues to grow in leaps and bounds and the RAID website is the central location for all stories, jobs, opportunities and events for the next generation of agriculture and international development researchers, farmers and volunteers.

Scholar Program – unique learning, networking and mentoring

The Crawford Fund Scholar Program is a unique learning, networking and mentoring opportunity for young students and scientists with a genuine interest in international agricultural research and development.

If you are lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to attend the Crawford Fund Annual Conference, you will learn from, be inspired by, and be paired with some of the leading experts and nicest people in the international agricultural development arena. And you will love it! You can read the wonderful experiences of our 2019 cohort here.

The scholar activities around the conference include personal discussions with inspiring international speakers from the conference providing career advice and the matching of personal mentors for the duration of the conference and, depending on those involved, well into the future.

The fun and informative activities are developed in partnership with young and ‘old’ agricultural scientists and RAID members.

This initiative represents one of the foundations of our efforts to encourage young Australians into international research, development and education careers for the benefit of both developing countries and Australia. Since the program started in 2010, we have had more than 270 scholars participate. You can hear some of the scholars being interviewed from our 2016 conference in the video below.

For more background on the program, read our Scholar Booklet, with a list of the 240+ alumni and some of the scholars’ experiences.

Student Awards – go, see, learn

Each of our State and Territory Committees support visits to developing countries by students, so they can gain valuable experience and expertise overseas ‘in the field’ or supported engagement with overseas work.

These awards are particularly targeted at university students in agriculture, animal production, fisheries, forestry, natural resource management or any area related to food and nutrition security looking to explore their subject area in an international agricultural project context.In one year alone, our Student Award recipients, travelled to countries including Vietnam, Honduras, Timor-Leste, Tanzania, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Malaysia and the Philippines. They researched commodities as diverse as beef cattle, spiny lobsters, cassava, fisheries, sweet potato, mango and rice, as well as areas related to biosecurity, integrated cropping systems, media and marketing.

We are particularly appreciative of ACIAR and the international agricultural research centres, for allowing many of our Student Award winners to work within their projects. Following their often life-changing experiences, our young and enthusiastic researchers write about their journey and these are proudly highlighted on our website and social media accounts.

Here’s what a couple of our previous recipients had to say:

Jo Talbot, University of Tasmania

“Looking back on the trip to Vietnam, I am very grateful to The Crawford Fund for the opportunity to visit working farms and meet local farmers. Without their support I wouldn’t have been able to get such a valuable insight into beef-production in Vietnam.”

Laurelle Neugebauer, Curtin University

“Throughout my visits to many other farmers and associates I grew to understand the large complexities faced by these people. This was often confronting whether their constraints were related to colonisation or current issues such as climate change.”

Katherine Ashley, University of Sydney

“I would like to acknowledge the NSW Crawford Fund Committee for their generous support which has provided funds to travel in-country, conduct this research and develop my skills as a young agricultural scientist.”

Recipients of the Crawford Fund Student Awards

2019 Crawford Fund Student Award Recipients

2018 Crawford Fund Student Award Recipients

2017 Crawford Fund Student Award Recipients

Mentoring and Volunteering – helping hand in hand

Our mentoring program matches experienced Australian mentors and volunteers with overseas partners working together on agricultural projects. We have regular and dedicated programs delivering outcomes with long-term benefits in developing countries including Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste and Vietnam, as well as other opportunities as they arise through networks and training programs in other countries and with other projects.

As part of our extensive mentoring program, the Crawford Fund helps to place, develop programs with, and encourage Australian agricultural volunteers, to work in developing countries to build local capacity.

Volunteers usually come through the Government’s Australian Volunteer Program  who work in developing countries to build local capacity, but others could be in country more short-term as New Colombo Plan scholars or, as self-funded volunteers.

In 2018, through DFAT’s Australian Volunteer program, we involved three volunteers, Brendan Bangma, Sarah Hain and Nick Pain, along with our lead mentor, Professor Lester Burgess, and mentors and trainers: Dr Madaline Healey, Professor Deirdre Lemerle and Dr Kylie Ireland, to work closely with our Lao partners, holding workshops for farmers on using pesticides safely, and identifying and treating pests and diseases. With support from the Crawford Fund and an ACIAR forestry project, they also built a plant shade house, and provided a training visit to Australia for a key Lao partner, Ms Seng Phantavong.

Volunteering opportunities are listed on DFAT’s Australian Volunteers website, and the Crawford Fund also promotes opportunities and advertises vacancies.

Volunteering is the perfect way to gain on-the-ground practical experience in your chosen field. The experience will fast-track your learning, boost your career opportunities, and, in the field of international agriculture, you will see the immediate need and impacts you can deliver well into the future. As often happens, you volunteering may evolve into you mentoring…and the Crawford Fund can walk that journey with you.

Contact us to find out more.

Our NextGen Work Gets a Boost

The Crawford Fund has been working for some years now to encourage the next generation in ag for development. We know there are innovative, rewarding and global careers available for young Australians which are challenging and rewarding personally and professionally, offering opportunities to have a real and much-needed impact on food and nutrition security.

We have a number of existing strategies to do this – our hosting, partnering and training with the Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) Network; our public events in which we have a ‘nextgen’ focus, such as our State Committee forums; our conference scholar program; the committees’ annual student awards,  and the opportunities we provide for volunteering in our mentoring program (explained in this short video).

Our activities have been given an added boost with funding from ACIAR to support additional ‘NextgGen’ work. This new boost to our work was launched by our Chairman, The Hon John Anderson, at the opening of our conference scholar activities in August.

John Anderson launches ‘NextGen’

He explained that we won’t be reinventing the wheel but adding to the wonderful work already underway by a myriad of organisations and influencers encouraging young Australians into agriculture by raising the profile of study and careers in international agricultural research and management.

“We want to increase awareness of high school students and undergraduates of the varied, meaningful and beneficial outcomes for both Australian students, Australian agriculture and for developing countries where the NextGen is engaged in international agriculture,” said Cathy Reade, the Fund’s Director of Outreach, who is managing the project.

‘NextGen’ events

Before COVID-19 made its presence felt, we were excitedly engaged in a number of activities to talk about opportunities for NextGen in the agriculture for the developing world space. Our board member Prof Tim Reeves participated in the PIEFA sponsored panel at the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria’s annual conference  attended by over 400 people which focused on food security, with Tim’s focus on opportunities for NextGen.

Cathy Reade, our Director of Outreach, moderated a panel with three enthusiastic students including Razlin Azmin – a former conference scholar and Jess Fearnley – a former student awardee, highlighting their work, the impact in Australia and overseas, and on them personally and professionally at the Australian Women in Agriculture Annual Conference.

The Crawford Fund WA’s coordinator Prof Lynn Abbott and three RAID members hosted a panel discussion at the Science Teachers Association WA conference in Perth. The event showcased enthusiastic experts from science, technology engineering and maths while exploring cutting edge science.

Nikki Dumbrell, a PhD student at the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Global Food and Resources represented RAID and the Crawford Fund at an event held by PrimeZone and the Primary Industries Education Foundation of Australia in Adelaide called The Food, Fibre and Foliage Education Roadshow. Nikki spoke about opportunities for the next generation to fight poverty and malnutrition around the globe, with a particular focus on her work in Vietnam. She also wrote a blog following the event.

Board Member, Tim Reeves with panel members at the Geography Teachers’ Association conference (left) and Nikki Dumbrell who spoke about her experiences in Vietnam at a recent ‘NextGen’ event in Adelaide (right).

Moving online

The move to online events has been a relatively easy transition for our ‘NextGen-ers’ with a number of webinars, podcasts and videos filling the void of physical distancing. Some of our highlights include:

RAID Network member and ACIAR’s former graduate, Sam Coggins spoke engagingly on the impact of international agriculture and the diverse range of career pathways to agriculture for development, at the 2020 Agricultural Careers Expo an online event with over 1,000 agriculture and primary industries teachers, careers advisors and high school students registered. He also wrote about the experience.

A NextGen online webinar “NextGen Needed for Reshaping Food Systems after COVID-19”  presented by Colin Chartres to University of Melbourne senior students and supervisors.

We partnered with Future Farmers Network to host a webinar, “Making a Global Difference” which focused on working in developing countries and its benefits to our neighbours and Australian agriculture, as well as discussing professional and personal pathways for NextGen agricultural scientists and researchers. The event included an ACIAR graduate, ACIAR project leader and ACIAR project worker.

Dr Anika Molesworth, one of our former conference scholars, not only an MC-ed this webinar, she also gave a talk at the online “International Conference on Crisis in the Livestock Industry due to COVID-19” on the topic “How COVID-19 is impacting agriculture and rural communities, and what needs to be done.” The presentation is available here (from 14:30).

A volunteer video co-branded with CSU has also been produced and gone live. Our mentor Dr Deirdre Lemerle filmed an interview with another volunteer Stephen Lang when she was in Laos earlier in the year, and before they both returned due to coronavirus. We’d like to thank The Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation for putting this video together from Deirdre’s footage in the greenhouse.

Read all about it

We have also presented a considerable number of NextGen blogs over recent months, which we have featured here and here.

Watch this space for other NextGen activities we have in the pipeline. We look forward to sharing further boosted ‘NextGen’ efforts with you.

Or, if you would like to support our next generation initiatives, please do so here.