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I highly recommend the NYSF to all Rotary clubs. I also recommend the experience of being an Aunt, Uncle Mum or Dad. You live, eat and can interact with Australia’s best scientists of the future.

The NYSF District Chair of Rotary D9700, Sue Moffatt, participated in the 2015 Session A for the first time, taking on the role of Rotary Aunt. This important volunteer position provides backup to the volunteer Mum and Dad on each session, and works closely with the counterpart Rotary Uncle, the NYSF Director, and the senior NYSF session student staff, to ensure pastoral care and support is provided to students during the program.

Sue talks about her NYSF experience:

“I arrived at Burgmann College at ANU on Saturday afternoon and soon met up with Rotarian Ruth Barber from Wagga who had been an Aunt in the previous week. After a quick handover, I attended the Saturday night disco with the students who were all dressed up in crazy science related costumes. What a start! Sunday was home hospitality day for the students, which meant a bit of free time. That would be it for the week though. A 'day' in NYSF terms is very long – up at 6.30am and in bed by 11.00pm with not a minute wasted in between. In the evenings, there were often structured activities, of the students had career talks, exploring different career options."

During the week we went on a number of science (a forum on the science and impacts of nano-science) and cultural visits, and the students prepared talks about an area of science of interest to them. We also had presentations from visiting international students from Canada and Fiji.

Tuesday was a highlight for me when I visited the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mt Stromlo and witnessed the redevelopment of the site since the bush fires destroyed several telescopes. I then followed the physics interest groups to the ANU supercomputer facility. After dinner we boarded the bus to Questacon to participate in a live videoconference with Dr Rolf Landua from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research which controls the the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Part of our Aunt/Uncle role is to support students who were unwell and, as can be imagined, with 200 students at a time, there were a few trips to the medical centre over the course of the week.

On Wednesday I did hear some of the informative presentations by NYSF partners during partners’ day. And that evening, the celebratory science dinner was held at the Australian Institute of Sport when the 50:50 campaign to encourage young women to continue studying science was launched by UNSW Australia Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

Thursday included a visit to SMEC who provides consultancy services on major infrastructure projects, such as a major road being constructed to the Canberra airport. Then I managed to win at scrabble on activities night. Woohoo!

Friday was the gripping closing seminar about modern designer drugs, given by a medical emergency doctor and frontline research scientist, Dr David Caldicott, and perfectly targeted to the audience. The last full day wrapped up with a fun visit to Questacon, before the final concert.

On the Saturday, Session A students returned home – exhausted but fulfilled by the program and all that they had learned. But they were quickly replaced by incoming Session C students; and it all started again for the NYSF staff.

I was amazed at the energy and professionalism of the NYSF "staffies" who are volunteer NYSF alumni – many in year 12 - willing to give back to the organisation through the year by studying for the skills they will need on session, as well as giving up two weeks of their holidays in January to work on the program as student staff leaders. Their ability to have fun and at the same time encourage discipline and bonding with their group is admirable and reflects the support and quality training program that the NYSF provides to them.

I highly recommend the NYSF to all Rotary clubs. I also recommend the experience of being an Aunt, Uncle Mum or Dad. You live, eat and can interact with Australia's best scientists of the future. Please contact me if you want more information about my experience or if you would like a general overview of the role."

“ I recommend the experience as Rotary Aunt …” - content image

The clubs from District 9700 who provided financial reports for 2015 students were, Coolamon (1), Cowra (1), Grenfell (1), Molong and Orange Daybreak (1), Wagga Wagga (1), Wagga Wagga Kooringal (3), Wagga Wagga Murrumbidgee (1), Wagga Wagga Sunrise (1), South Wagga Wagga (1) and Wollundry Wagga Wagga (2).