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Agriculture’s future crop of leaders to gather in Armidale 26 Jun 2015

Armidale in New South Wales is set to host 44 of Australia’s most driven and determined advocates for agriculture, and all of them are under the age of 22.

The students are part of the Horizon Scholarship, an initiative of the Rural Industries R&D Corporation (RIRDC) that aims to support the next generation of agricultural leaders studying an agriculture or related degree at an Australian university.

Being held between 28 June and 1 July, the Horizon Scholarship workshop will provide a unique opportunity for scholars to take part in a number of sessions that will help them improve their leadership and communication skills.

A feature of the three-day event will be a town hall-style forum on the evening of 30 June called the “Future Leaders’ Panel”, where members of industry, staff from the University of New England (UNE), local farmers, media and government representatives from around the New England area will attend and hear the perspectives of the young scholars.

Following the open forum will be the annual Horizon Scholarship networking dinner that will celebrate the achievements of the students and also provide them with the opportunity to meet local community, industry and political leaders.

This is the first time the Horizon Scholarship workshop has been held in a regional area and it offers an opportunity to showcase the New England area and its agricultural industries to future leaders, as well as engage local industry and community leaders to work with the students.

The theme of the 2015 Horizon Scholarship workshop is “transformative technologies for agriculture” and throughout the three days the scholars will explore how transformative technologies will create both opportunities and challenges for Australian agriculture.  

As part of the workshop the scholars will be asked to provide advice to agricultural leaders on how they think transformative technologies will impact agricultural careers and skill requirements. 

RIRDC’s Managing Director, Craig Burns said the annual Horizon Scholarship workshop plays an important role in helping the scholars build networks, share their experiences and further develop their skills.

“Australian industries have an impressive track record for adopting new technologies but this requires forward thinking and having the right leadership and skills,” Mr Burns said.

“Young people have different skills and experiences and we believe that their insights about what might be possible from emerging technologies such as global positioning systems, digital mapping, sensory devises and robotics will enable them to challenge current leadership and provide ideas on what skills agricultural industries might need to be well placed for the future.”

The Horizon Scholarship offers $5,000 per annum for the duration of a scholar’s university degree and provides the students with work placements, mentors and a range of personal development opportunities. 

The scholars are from across Australia and are studying a range of university degrees, including veterinary science, natural resource management, agricultural science and agribusiness across 11 different universities.

Sponsors of the Horizon Scholarship are the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Egg Corporation Ltd, Australian Wool Innovation, Horticulture Innovation Australia, Sugar Research Australia Research, the McCaughey Memorial Institute, RIRDC, RIRDC Chicken Meat Program, RIRDC Rice Program and RIRDC Honey Bee and Pollination Program.

More information about the Horizon Scholarship and scholar profiles can be found at www.rirdc.gov.au/horizon.