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Expressions of Interest from students to attend the National Youth Science Forum in January 2016 closed on 31 May 2015.  Once again, I can report that the level of interest from students was high, and that we will again have more quality applicants than places available in the program.  That we have to disappoint so many young people who want to participate in the program and are motivated to submit an application is frustrating to me, our corporate team and our Council, and we continue to work hard to engage with new corporate and university partners to source the necessary funding to run and expand our program. Once again I would like to thank all of our funding partners, including our major sponsor Lockheed Martin Australia, as well as CSL and the Grains R&D Corporation.  Their support is vital to the ongoing sustainability of the program.

As our Rotary friends begin the difficult task of selecting students who will participate in the 2016 program, our student staff leaders are moving through the program of work they are required to complete to ensure they have the skills to deliver the 2016 program in January.  Outward Bound Australia is collaborating to run the program with us, and I am confident that the work they are doing with our student leaders will result in a quality outcome for all.

The last of the 2015 Next Step visits will be delivered early in July.  These visits allow our partner universities and companies to host the students each year on their own sites, explaining their facilities and activities.  Our thanks again to all of our partners who have offered this opportunity to the 2015 cohort, giving them insights and experiences often not available to the wider public.

This month we are welcoming a new Manager, STEM Education, Ms Madeline Cooper.  This a refreshed role will see, among other things, a greater focus on the educational stucture that supports the lab visit and site tours that are conducted in the January Program.  Madeline comes to the NYSF from a background in tertiary student engagement, and we look forward to welcoming her to our corporate team.

We have recently been surveying our Rotary, corporate and university partners, and some alumni, to gain insights and input into a strategic planning process we are undertaking.  If Australia is to have the skills it needs for the 21st century, our community needs to be investing in the best support programs for our young people.  With its national networks and community backing, the NYSF is well-placed to deliver this support.  We aim to continue the work of the past thirty years, with the goal of providing more opportunities for young Australians to consider a wider array of study and employment choices that include STEM study at a tertiary level.