David MacTaggart attended the 2019 One Day for Students kick-off event, with dozens of other community-minded students and donors. This year’s fundraiser to support students is on March 17. (Photo: Submitted)

Scholarship support gives USask student a global perspective on feeding the world

College of Agriculture and Bioresources student David MacTaggart is learning how to feed the future through international conferences and research.

By Carlee Snow
Growing up on a small beef cattle farm in Lacombe, Alta., David MacTaggart knew he wanted to leverage lessons learned from life in rural Alberta to use in his career.

“It interested me in becoming an agricultural scientist and how I could contribute to feeding the world while being a steward of the environment in the future,” said the fourth-year College of Agriculture and Bioresources student at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

MacTaggart is now majoring in crop science and hopes to make an impact on the world in the area of food security. He said he chose his path because of his interest in plant sciences and breeding.

“The combination of cutting-edge science and collaboration between farmers and consumers—that is what interested me and why I wanted to become involved in the process of plant breeding to deliver farmers the technology they need to be sustainable and profitable in the future.”

Thanks to donor support, he received the Education Enhancement Grant that allowed him to supplement his education with unique learning opportunities.

“With the support of donors, I was able to attend the Scale Up conference at Purdue University, which brought together agricultural leaders from around the world,” explained MacTaggart. “Through informative sessions and networking with delegates, I gained a better understanding of the role of innovation in feeding the world. This experience helped to strengthen the direction of my developing career by providing a global perspective of agriculture that I can apply to my studies today.”

MacTaggart plans to use his education to impact the world in three ways. First, MacTaggart hopes to develop a collaborative environment to help bring different groups together through policy.

“I have always been interested in government and politics and would like to act as a mediator between groups that are at odds with each other, whether it is farmers and scientists or farmers and consumers,” said MacTaggart, who hopes that working with all groups will help deliver food security in Canada and around the world.

Secondly, MacTaggart hopes to deliver broad-based solutions to the greater population. He plans to work alongside scientists to develop more effective practices in the plant breeding process and improve agriculture for the future. Finally, MacTaggart hopes to inspire people through education.

MacTaggart credits donors for their support during his academic journey.

“Donors have given me the emotional support to know that people believed in me,” he said. “The support has boosted my motivation during university because I know that the education I am receiving will help me accomplish the goals I have for the future.”

His scholarship was supported by alumni and donors to the university’s Campaign for Students, an annual appeal that raises over $1.19-million each year to give students additional support to pursue their educational goals.

With scholarships easing his financial concerns, MacTaggart has had more time to get involved on campus, as an undergraduate research assistant as well as through the USask Horticulture Club.

“We help teach students skills like growing their own food, but also preparing it as well,” he said. “Right now, we have our field project that is underway and we are growing lots of fresh produce out in the field and that goes towards members—but we also use it to support the (local community) food bank.”

MacTaggart said he felt very fortunate to have received assistance in his education, as he gets ready to graduate in the spring of 2020.

“The support I received from donors encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I am a person that likes to focus on one specific thing. Being supported by scholarships has helped me take off those blinders and be able to see what the entire university experience has to offer.”

If you would like to support students and the great work they are doing in the community, save the date for One Day for Students on March 17, a day to celebrate philanthropy across the university. Please visit give.usask.ca/oneday for more information or to make a gift.