Australian scientist, German association to receive top Foundation alumni awards
Top: John Skerritt (back left), recipient of The Rotary Foundation 2011-12 Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award, works with a family in Papua, Indonesia, to raise pigs on a healthy diet to help prevent diseases. Photo courtesy of John Skerritt
Bottom: Rotary Foundation Alumni Deutschland, recipient of The Rotary Foundation 2011-12 Alumni Association of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of Rotary Foundation Alumni Deutschland
John Skerritt, a research scientist who is deputy secretary of the Department of Primary Industries for the state of Victoria, Australia, has been chosen by The Rotary Foundation Trustees as the recipient of the 2011-12 Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award.
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Carlingford, New South Wales, Skerritt studied as a 1983-84 Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. A member of the Rotary Club of Hampton, he will receive the award on 8 May at the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand.
“An award like this has so many well-deserving candidates. I’m honored and humbled to be recognized,” says Skerritt.
Over the past 30 years, Skerritt has led a wide range of training and assistance projects addressing agriculture, medical science, environmental, and public administration issues in India, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian and African countries.
Skerritt, who manages a staff of 1,250 and an annual budget of US$250 million, is one of the government’s top public policy architects for fisheries, forestry, and agricultural emergencies. In 2010, he led a successful response to a major locust plague in eastern Australia, which otherwise would have caused $2 billion in damage. And last year, his team helped the farming community in that region recover quickly after unprecedented flooding.
A former Rotaractor and Interactor, Skerritt has received numerous awards for his research and governmental work in agricultural science and development.
“I learned during my Ambassadorial Scholarship how international collaborations are such a powerful way of addressing big issues,” says Skerritt. “Whether it’s medical, food security, or environmental causes, the basis of my work is to improve the lives of others. Rotary showed me the importance of giving.”
German alumni group recognized
Rotary Foundation Alumni Deutschland (RFAD), the alumni association in Germany, has been selected as the recipient of The Rotary Foundation 2011-12 Alumni Association of the Year Award.
“We are thrilled to receive this award, which honors the joint effort of many generations of RFAD presidents and members,” says Christoph Saenger, president of the group. “We feel like appreciated members of the Rotarian family, and hope the award will raise the awareness for TRF alumni among Rotarians.”
Chartered in 1998, RFAD is dedicated to maintaining and strengthening contact between alumni and Rotary. The group’s 270 members organize seminars for participants in inbound and outbound Foundation programs and regularly meet with Rotarians. They support a variety of humanitarian projects internationally and fund their own Rotary scholarship through the Foundation every five years.
In 2010-11, RFAD raised about US$13,500 to complete a water project in Costa Rica, provide water wells in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and help a school in a tsunami-affected region of Japan.
“This gives our alumni the wonderful feeling to make a difference by, for example, helping an incoming scholar to overcome the cultural shock of arriving in Germany, or by engaging in service projects,” Saenger says.
Among other activities, RFAD’s International Oktoberfest Alumni Event, open to alumni worldwide, includes workshops on how to improve alumni collaboration and cultural activities.
“The RFAD success story provides evidence that the generous support from Rotarians for young scholars bears fruit,” Saenger says. “After being volunteers, Group Study Exchange team members, peace fellows, or Ambassadorial Scholars, these grateful and enthusiastic alumni become a valuable future resource for Rotary.”