Thomas is serving science

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Wakatipu High School deputy head boy Thomas Hartono  has been selected by the Royal Society Te Aparangi to attend a prestigious five-day residential science programme in Brisbane.

The Year 13 pupil, 17, is one of six students selected for the University of Queensland’s Future Experiences in Agriculture, Science and Technology (FEAST) programme.

FEAST is designed to inspire and inform high school students about the range of exciting and rewarding science careers in the agriculture, animal, plant and food sectors.

The society will fund half the costs from the Talented School Students’ Travel Award, and his parents will pay about 25 per cent – but he still needs a hand to raise $500. He is due to leave on June 29.

“I have tried to fundraise but I’ve been busy with other school duties and other events and am still looking for additional funding,” Thomas says.

“I like the sustainable environmental aspect – that is the most important thing to me.

“I always try to immerse myself in science opportunities.”

He’s been interested in science since a young age and in January went to Timor-Leste, in Indonesia, as a volunteer for an Otago University environmental science team, investigating the area’s fisheries economy.

“We looked at the fishing methods they [the islanders] were using, the types of marine organisms they caught and sold to larger economies in Indonesia.”

He wasn’t expecting to be picked for FEAST but is excited about meeting others with similar interests and creating a network outside Queenstown.

He’s interested in a career in science, although he is not sure which direction he wants to take.

“It will be most likely be biology or chemistry, environmental science or health science, or maybe genetics.”

A keen tennis player, he also volunteers for sustainable organisations locally and is the school’s environmental group leader.