Sam Birrell awarded Ken Sampson Memorial Fairley Leadership Scholarship

Thursday 28 February, 2013

This year's Ken Sampson Memorial Fairley Leadership Scholarship recipient Sam Birrell is passionate about sustainable agriculture.

Mr Birrell was presented with the scholarship by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) chair Peter Ryan today. The scholarship was established in 2010 to honour former Goulburn Broken CMA staff member Ken Sampson's contributions to natural resource management, community participation and leadership during a career spanning more than 30 years. Mr Sampson passed away in October 2009.

The Goulburn Broken CMA has also been a long-time supporter of the Fairley Program and the scholarship supports an individual, who demonstrates passion, initiative and a strong track record in the area of environmental protection, to participate in the program.

Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman said Mr Birrell's commitment to the community, environment and agriculture made him a deserving scholarship recipient.

"Sam grew up in the Goulburn Valley, completing most of his schooling and tertiary education in the area and now works as an agronomist with global drip irrigation pioneers Netafim," Mr Norman said.

In this role he promotes sustainable irrigated farming practices and advanced "fertigation" (supplying dissolved fertiliser to crops through an irrigation system).

"Sam is also involved in and supports a number of community organisations including the Alpine Club of Victoria, the SheppARTon Festival and Shepparton Lawn Tennis Club and is a La Trobe University Regional Advisory Board member," Mr Norman said.

Mr Birrell said he was honoured to receive this year's Ken Sampson Memorial Fairley Leadership Scholarship.

"I understand that traditionally the scholarship has been awarded to those involved in natural resource and catchment management activities," Mr Birrell said. "As an agronomist involved in sustainable irrigation management, I have had an input into these areas indirectly. For example I believe the water efficient irrigation systems we are facilitating on farms in the region have a natural fit with managing our catchments for better environmental outcomes.

"However, I do think there could be more open channels of communication between the commercial agriculture sector and sustainable resource managers in our region and I look forward - through the skills and networks I develop through the Fairley Leadership Program - to advancing the discussion about the link between good environmental practice and highly productive farms."