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23 Jul 16

Article Author / Patricia Apostolakis

Sam announced Fellow in the New Colombo Plan

Sam Coggins (fr 14) is an inspiration to not only agriculture students, but many of his fellow Wesleyans. He moved from his home-town, Canberra, to further his knowledge and understanding of agriculture.

He is determined and passionate about promoting the importance of agriculture and is actively involved in educating the community on how to minimise the impact on our environment for future generations.

His focus and inspiration is to find a solution that helps avoid a global food shortage as our population increases whilst natural resources rapidly deplete.

“The number of people [21 000] that die from hunger-related causes every day [is alarming]. By 2050 the global population is expected to peak reaching 9.6 billion people and the challenge is to increase food production by 60% before then.”

“That’s what really inspires me to study agriculture – as well as my background of course. I find it incredibly interesting and I really love it… it’s such a dynamic industry.”

“On my Mum’s side, my uncle is a 7th generation dairy farmer in the Bega Valley and my dad owns a place near Mudgee running Angus cattle. You could say agriculture is in the blood.”

Soil science is Sam’s main focus area of study at the moment. He explains that it’s important to understand the composition of soil so that the industry can farm sustainably.

Sam explains that the quality of soil changes drastically across different areas and particularly at
different depths so implementing different harvest practices such as stubble retention and minimum tillage, have a minimum impact on eroding the soil that is most fertile.

Sharing this knowledge and educating the current and future ambassadors of the farming industry is a key motivator for Sam, and also the reason he’s an active member of the community.

Aside from his studies – Sam is vice president of the Landcare Society – which is a student run society that was formed to promote awareness of land degradation issues. He’s also involved in the Young Farming Champions Program; which is a program where young people in agriculture (both university students and people in industry) come together and complete workshops with the end goal promoting agriculture and breaking down the rural-urban barriers.

Sam is also a celebrated high achiever. In 2014 he received The Horizon Scholarship – for undergraduates in agriculture. And has received a university Agriculture Merit Scholarship. His most recent achievement is being awarded a scholar in the New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

“You could say agriculture is in the blood”.

Sam Coggins (fr 14)

New Colombo Plan Scholarship

The New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program provides opportunities for Australian undergraduate students to undertake semester-based study and internships or mentorships in participating Indo-Pacific locations. It’s open to Australian undergraduates aged 18-28 studying at Australian universities.

The application process is demanding; the first step is each university selects up to 10 students to apply; then chosen students are interviewed by a panel that ensure students meet different selection criteria: 40% is weighted on academics, 40% on leadership and 20% on community engagement.

“I chose Sri Lanka because South Asia will be hit hard by food shortage and rapid increase in food prices”.

With huge population growth and more than 50% living below the poverty line, Sam would like to learn more about cultural, agricultural and political practices. “Without this knowledge I won’t be able to aid in any way”.

Sam will complete eight months overseas including the time spent for internships (in the Philippines and India) and university exchange.

“It will be enlightening to see these problems that I study and aim to address first-hand.”

Post university

After finishing his degree, Sam would initially like to spend time carrying out scientific research and completing his PhD in Wageningen, the Netherlands, which he says “is the best agricultural university in the world”.

He is determined to use his time now to secure as much knowledge and experience as possible because his goal is to enter into a leadership position and influence change in the agriculture industry.

With so many opportunities available to him we will know he will succeed.

Good luck Sam, the Wesley family cheers you on!