Gary Sansom Scholarship supporting future chicken meat leaders

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A passion for research and a drive for sustainability on a global and domestic scale, has seen Rebel Northey awarded the Gary Sansom Scholarship for 2024.

Rebel, a University of New England (UNE) Master of Science – Animal Science (Poultry Science) student, is investigating the feasibility of using food waste-based diets on meat chickens, reducing the strain on food supplies such as grains and legumes, while simultaneously reducing the amount of food waste destined for landfill.

Recycling food waste into animal feed addresses many global issues including greenhouse gas emissions, resource allocation (e.g. grain, water, land), food insecurity and food pricing.

“My research is really about sustainability, both globally and on a scale that’s applicable to the Australian poultry industry, comparing the differences between a food-waste diet and a commercial diet, and their impacts on chicken growth,” Rebel said.

“Earlier research by my supervisor Dr Amy Moss, found that feeding a waste-based diet to laying hens resulted in a better food conversion ratio compared to feeding a commercial diet.”

“We suspect the differences between the diets is due to the different fat: carbohydrate ratios — something I will investigate further in my research project.”

Support for future leaders

Supporting future chicken meat industry leaders, the Gary Sansom Scholarship provides financial and industry support to students looking to forge a pathway in the chicken meat industry, enabling them to make their mark on the industry from the outset.

Established in honour of the late Gary Sansom, a former AgriFutures Chicken Meat Advisory Panel Chair and Australian Chicken Meat Federation President, the scholarship encourages new entrants into the chicken meat industry and aims to develop leadership capabilities among the research community.

Gary’s vision was to ensure the chicken meat industry is valued and respected by the Australian community. He was a long-standing supporter of programs that encouraged new people to work in the chicken meat industry, and championed communication and training initiatives vital to the industry.

The scholarships are funded by the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program and supported by industry.

Rebel will receive up to $35,000 in funding to support his research, paired with an industry mentor and given the opportunity to attend poultry industry conferences and events, networking and learning from some of the industry’s leading experts.

Addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program is working with stakeholders to grow the long-term sustainability, productivity and viability of the industry.

“With more than 58,000 people employed across the industry, building people capacity and a diverse and sustainable workforce is a priority area for the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program, to ensure that workforce needs continue to be met,” explained Sarika Pandya, Manager Levied and Emerging Industries – Chicken Meat.

“Even with all the innovative technologies and systems in place across the industry, people are still at the core of the industry and are critical to ensuring industry growth.”

“I love the passionate, enthusiastic, innovative and curious minds of the young people looking to start their career in the chicken meat industry; those who want to make a difference to the industry by undertaking research that can be readily applied.”

“As future industry leaders, it’s important we embrace and empower early career researchers.”

“AgriFutures is pleased to be able to partner with industry and provide opportunities such as those offered through the Gary Sansom Scholarship to encourage and support new people to build a thriving career in the industry,” Sarika said.

The ability to make an impact sparked interest in the industry

From a young age Rebel has been interested in animals. He completed a Certificate III in Animal Studies before embarking on a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Animal Science and Veterinary Studies at the UNE in Armidale, NSW.

While he knew he wanted to build a career in the animal field, it was a practical project about broiler chickens, during the last year of his Bachelor’s degree, that sparked his interest in poultry research.

“I loved the hands-on aspect of the research and working with chickens. Seeing how small changes to the chickens’ diet can have big impacts on the end product fascinated me and I was eager to learn about the science behind it,” Rebel said.

More recently, Rebel has been involved with other poultry industry projects through his student and supervisor group at UNE.

“I’ve had involvement in and been exposed to several different aspects of the chicken industry on a research-sized scale, and I’m really enjoying learning how all the pieces come together,” he explained.

Dr Amy Moss, Rebel’s Master’s supervisor said, “Our project to enable food waste-based meat chicken diets will explore the possibilities for the industry to further improve the sustainability of poultry production.”

“Rebel is very passionate and excited to be a part of this project and the mentorship the Gary Sansom Scholarship will provide will bring great value to Rebel and our research.”

Rebel said it was the support for early career researchers entering the industry that initially drew his attention to the Gary Sansom Scholarship.

“The scholarship pairs me with an industry mentor and provides financial support to attend poultry industry conferences, all helping to grow my networks and gain real industry experience,” Rebel explained.

“The scholarship, I hope, will open doors for me. I’m looking forward to meeting new people in the chicken meat community and learning about and exploring what roles and opportunities there are in the industry; ultimately kick starting my career.”

Subscribe to the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program to find out when the 2024 Gary Sansom Scholarship applications open

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