Meet our evokeAG. Future Young Leaders – Maddison Clonan

Meet our evokeAG. Future Young Leaders – Maddison Clonan

Maddison grew up in regional South Australia and after studying Environmental Science, completed a Master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture. Moving to Darwin in 2016, she immediately fell under the spell of life in the top end whereas an agricultural scientist, she’s working with the Department of Primary Industry and Resources. Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, (ACIAR) to contribute to the development of agricultural industries in south-east Asia, whilst improving the sustainability of our local industry, Maddison is the NT’s representative for Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) and has been instrumental in the development of a Young Farmers group and Young Leaders group. In 2019, she was a finalist for the Agricultural Young Achievers award. It goes without saying that she’s passionate about communicating science, supporting young people in agriculture and readying agriculture for climate change.

What are your future aspirations for the agricultural sector and/or the food industry?

Our agriculture/food sectors desperately need modernising. We need to rethink the way we develop, communicate, transport, fund and change. This needs to start with reinvigorating interest in agriculture. We can begin to engage people with regional conversations around sustainability and diversity of opinions, ideas, background and expertise in Australian food production. The development of agricultural industries needs to move beyond those who grew up in regional areas, or who inherited farms; or by those with economic interests. When society is engaged and passionate about food and where it comes from, we can all engage in that discussion.

I aspire to create agriculture sectors globally, that are progressive, engaged and diverse. Sectors that are made up of all areas of food production. Sectors without segmentation which consider the soil from where our food comes equally with the trucks that move our food. Sectors that adhere to the true definition of sustainable agriculture, “Agriculture is sustainable when it is leads to long-term: farm profitability; improvements in the quality of life of farming families; the vitality of rural communities, villages and small towns; and the protection and conservation of the natural environment, especially soil, air and water.” (UNESCO, 2010) are not sectors at all. They are complex, interactive, integrated systems of many parts.

What steps have you already taken to help achieve your aspirations outlined above?  

I actively facilitate networking, collaboration and communication across sectors, industries, governments and researchers. I have achieved this through the establishment of RAID in the Northern Territory. RAID hosts networking events that connect all food/agriculture interested people. In an effort to share my experiences and those of others in agriculture careers, I am an active user of social media. I utilise my own accounts and have also recently launched a social media platform for young people in agriculture in the NT “Youth in Ag NT”. This platform aims to connect young people with opportunities and information to help them build their career in agriculture.

As an employee in the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources, I engage with other departments, divisions and industry groups. I am currently partnering with groups within the National Environmental Science Program, to undertake cross-disciple research that will enable our horticultural industry to prepare for climate change. Projects like this enable the NT to overcome barriers of isolation and resource limitations to achieve more than we could independently.

I have built international networks with research institutions in countries with agricultural systems that align with ours. In Cambodia, these networks have significantly aided the development and adoption of new agricultural practices that improve livelihoods and environmental protection. When my international work finishes, the networks I have formed continue to facilitate communication, knowledge sharing and the development of partnership in these countries.

What is the number one activity you would like to do for the agricultural sector and/or the food industry?  

My passion project is to improve the communication and uptake of science across agricultural

communities. This has grown from my own passion for science and its potential to impact on industry and livelihoods. Through my experience within industry and within government, I have seen the discrepancies between knowledge development and industry adoption. In times of rapid environmental and economic change, efficient adoption of new practices, technology and science, can ensure sustainability.

I would like to study the divide between the science generators and the science adopters. To address my findings, I would like to develop better mechanisms for disseminating science to students, industry and government. It is my hope that, under the threats of climate change, population growth and land degradation, improving the uptake of scientific knowledge, will enable societies to adapt. Creating more robust, sustainable, informed societies globally and delivering them the end product.

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