By Karen Smith
The Global Footprints Scholarships awards night, held recently in Sydney, celebrated a group of fifteen talented young people as they chase their dreams and prepare to travel the world.
This program, previously known as (Big Brother Movement) BBM Awards, is all about aligning the goals of young tradespeople and the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development. BBM’s vision and purpose is to grow a better, more sustainable world by supporting young people to become practical, impactful leaders of the future. The Global footprints scholarship scheme provides encouragement and support for these young people so they can create the future they want for themselves and their planet.
These scholarships are exclusively for students in Vocational Education and Training (VET) training in agriculture, horticulture, or a trade, and who have a passion for sustainability in their chosen industry, and a bright vision for Australia’s future. Since 1983, more than 1000 young Australians have travelled the world with this scholarship program, and returned to Australia ready to share ideas, knowledge, skills, and networks to inspire others.
The awards were presented by Graham Ross AM (Horticulture), and past Global Footprints Scholars Frewoini Baume (Agriculture), Remy Alonso (Ryde Student Fund), and Renee Gibson (Trades).
This year fifteen young scholars represented trade areas ranging from various aspects of agriculture and horticulture to butchery, baking, and boat building. With such a diverse range of trades the various pathways to matching the goals of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development are equally diverse.
Oscar Press, boat building NSW, recognised the sustainable practices of traditional boat builders and is captivated by the long history of European boat builders. Jessica Bartles, a butcher from Tasmania, can see possible improvements to meat industry sustainability by managing food loss and waste. Commercial baker Bjarke Svensdsgaard, also from Tasmania, sees value in artisan breads, especially sourdough. His goal is to experience baking in countries like Italy and Spain, and develop methods to reduce time and energy proofing yeast.
Representing agriculture, Austin Grace, Sarah Pace, and Anna Sutcliffe, all from NSW, and Jason Garner from Queensland have identified pathways that may increase the prospect of sustainable agriculture. Improved land and stock management, incorporating and protecting native species, and understanding global markets and practices are in the range of goals expressed by these young scholars. Healthy workers and workplaces, and improved soil health can also contribute to sustainability according to Anna and Jason. Tia Magner, a horticulturist from Queensland, is also keen to learn more about using plants and animals to fertilise soils while still having successful and healthy crops.
Keirah Metcalfe and Sarah Poynton, horticulturists from Victoria, are keen to find ways to overcome pests and poor soil conditions. They hope overseas growers may have solutions applicable to Australia that do not necessarily involve harsh pesticides. Sarah sees hydroponics as a possible area of study. Another horticulturist from Victoria, Olivia Jones is keen to broaden her horizons and find work in a Netherlands greenhouse learning about their history.
The natural world contributes to the wellbeing of all people on the planet. Several of the Global Footprints Scholars from horticulture made enhancing this experience part of their goal for improving sustainability. Kira Platt-Behrens from NSW sees the design of therapeutic green spaces and incorporating the principles of Zen Gardening as a way to promote wellbeing and sustainability.
Three other horticulturists from NSW seek sustainability and believe a sabbatical overseas will trigger new ideas. Nathan Watson endeavours to design landscapes preserving the natural environment and the interaction between plants, while Sian Thomasson sees biodiversity as the potential to maintain sustainability and finds Kew Gardens of great interest. Micah Simmons-Smith finds inspiration in gardens that blend beautifully into their surroundings.
Doubtless, there are many gardens and institutions overseas that will provide inspiration for these scholars. With their new vision, perhaps they can see methods and develop ideas that will be useful in their future careers.
Image supplied by BBM Youth Support. Note the image has 14 of the 15 people who received awards, one person was unable to attend.