Cara Jeffrey attending Chickpeas
Cara Jeffrey attending Chickpeas

Sydney PhD candidate and LGBTQ+ trailblazer Cara Jeffrey is one of four Australian nominees selected out of 100 delegates aged 18 to 25 from around the world to attend the biennial 2021 Bayer Youth Ag Summit in November.

Bayer has selected four Australian youth leaders among 100 delegates, representing more than 40 different countries, to make up the 2021 Youth Ag Summit cohort this November. The global forum and biennial conference provides young leaders between the ages of 18 and 25, with a passion for sustainable agriculture, the opportunity to learn and collaborate with others on solutions to issues challenging food security across the globe.

This year’s delegates were selected from 2,000 applicants representing nearly 100 countries.

“If we can educate society to responsibly consume their food to create zero waste, work with our farmers to produce in more a sustainable way and nurture the land that nurtures us, we will be able to continue to feed the world,” said livestock leader and station hand Meg Kennett from Walcha, NSW. “My motivation to join the Youth Ag Summit was to a part of this mission. I am excited to be able to collaborate and put into action ideas that are focused on building resilient food systems and a sustainable world.”

To be selected, this year’s delegates presented project ideas and examples of previous advocacy work based on the Summit’s overall theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet”. Lucy Noble, a market reporting analyst from Sydney, for example, told of her desire to bridge the knowledge gap that most people in industrialised nations have between food production and consumption. She hopes her involvement will lead to improved food utilisation and agricultural literacy.

“My interest in international food security is born out of grassroots engagement and aspiration to contribute to the future and resilience of our planet’s land and water resources. I see the Youth Ag Summit as an opportunity to work with like-minded people who have an in-depth and diverse understanding of sustainable agriculture, learning from others who seek to serve the future of our planet.”

Joining Kennett and Noble at the 2021 Summit will be PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, Cara Jeffrey, and PhD candidate at La Trobe University, Dylan Male.

Cara was recognised for her current work in developing a more heat tolerant and resistant chickpea crop, aligning with her goal of creating more sustainable food.

  • Cara originally studied marine biology before going on to complete her Honours at James Cook University, working with the pearl farming industry to develop a method to extract pearl oysters’ tissue in a way that didn’t harm them for genetic analysis and selective breeding
  • Needing a change in direction and taking advice from her mentors, Cara began to consider a career in agriculture and after a quick conversation with her current mentor began her PhD
  • She is currently completing PhD research to identify the breeds and sections of DNA from chickpeas that breeders should target to produce a more heat tolerant and resilient crop
  • The project has been immensely rewarding for Cara as she works towards her goals of assisting with sustainable food production
Cara Jeffrey researching
Cara Jeffrey

Liam Condon, a member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and President of the Crop Science Division, says the Youth Ag Summit has always been a great opportunity to connect with the next generation of agriculture.

“These young people provide the passion needed to make a real difference in tackling food security challenges. By supporting and nurturing these future leaders, we aid them in what we hope is a lifelong journey of learning and action for a more sustainable food system,” Condon said.

This year’s 5th biennial Youth Ag Summit will be the company’s first virtual YAS event and it’s first with a virtual idea incubator called YAS University. Within the YAS University program, delegates will continue to develop their business and communications skills, receive coaching from mentors, and complete weekly assignments that help them hone their own project concepts for 10 weeks following the summit, beginning in January 2022. At the end of YAS University, the delegates will have the opportunity to pitch their project ideas to a panel of experts to compete for prizes. Bayer’s partnerships for this year’s forum with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the tech company Babele make the unique experience of YAS University possible.