Local teen named to Top 30 under 30 list
David MacTaggart was named one of the Top 30 under 30 in Alberta, in part due to his leadership experience in 4-H. Here, he's pictured taking a razor to a steer during the Lacombe and District 4-H Show and Sale representing the Central Lacombe 4-H Beef Club. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
At 19 years old, David MacTaggart has quite the impressive list of accomplishments.
He won the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture senior public-speaking championship at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, was named high school valedictorian in his Grade 12 year, earned scholarships towards post-secondary and been a junior leader with the Central 4-H Beef Club.
Now. he’s being featured by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC) as one of the Top 30 under 30 engaged in the province and working towards sustainable development goals both at home and internationally.
“It's a really humbling experience and an honour,” Mactaggart said, speaking to the Globe over the phone between classes at the University of Saskatchewan, where he’s in his second year of a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in crop science.
“I had a hunch when the application was going on, but when they’re talking about such a prestigious group, I don’t think I’d usually be apart of that. It's really an honour to be able to represent the people and the organizations in Lacombe that have helped me get to this point.”
The Top 30 under 30 are chosen through a competitive nomination process and judged by international development leaders. MacTaggart was chosen primarily because of his experience in 4-H, summer research with Agriculture Canada and a desire to inspire a new generation of rural leaders to develop sustainable farming practices.
His passion for food production stems from his family’s historic involvement in agriculture. His mother’s family has been farming in Alberta since 1912 and has likely been a farm family for 200 years. His personal connection agriculture came through the Central 4-H Beef Club which led to working in agronomy research at the Lacombe Research Station over the past two summers, and helping to spearhead a community garden project through 4-H that benefited the local food bank.
While not a farmer himself, the legacy of providing people around him and the rest of the world with food in something he wants to carry on through his work.
“It's not only the idea of feeding people, but being a good steward of the land. I think agriculture sometimes gets a bad rap, perhaps, for not being the most sustainable, but there are some really good success stories, especially with the advent of modern technology that's going to help us be more sustainable ecologically in the future,” he said.
To that end, his focus is on increasing his experience in the research field, working with researchers at the University of Saskatchewan to make crops in western Canada more tolerant to drought and colder temperatures.
“I'm really excited to learn how modern technology can help make our agriculture production more productive so we're producing more food for the world,” he said. “We need to look at developing countries as well. I think that is where we can make our biggest advancements when it comes to food production because we can help close a technology deficit.”
The Top 30 under 30 are featured in a magazine, which was officially launched Feb. 2 in Edmonton. A digital copy can be found online at http://acgc.ca/get-involved/top-30-under-30-magazine/.