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From the director's desk

Hello YPARD! 

It is a huge honor to join your community. Thank you already for all the warm words of welcome. I aim to be a servant-leader, synthesizing the wishes of you all, my fellow members, into compromises that honor our mission and vision, sustaining the network and allowing it to grow. 

Why do I want to give my energy to YPARD? Because youth are so important for changing and leading global food systems. At the moment, youth have a limited voice in international policy dialogues and the forces which shape our food systems. If we are included, it is often as a token young face, but not with real decision-making power, and we rarely have a vote in international committees, even when these have representation from civil society. After we graduate from educational institutions, opportunities for education and access to information often become much more limited, although we are still at a time in our lives where we are thirsty to learn, grow and engender change. 

Networks like YPARD are filling this gap. YPARD is the only international agricultural network which focuses on youth even outside their time in formal educational institutions. The power of organizing young people cannot be understated. By creating leadership opportunities by youth for youth, we create practical learning experiences which cannot be gained in any classroom or seminar. YPARD is the freedom to launch a project because we have passion, and removes the prerequisite of years of practical experience. How does one ever get these years of practical experience if we are always too green and too young to start? Many of us are young professionals—experts in our own right. And when can we openly acknowledge that those with the most experience have exacerbated many social and environmental ills into crisis? Less experience in broken systems may let us break free of their faults.

Then there are the life-long international friendships, upon which international trust, collaboration, and cooperation are built. It is not an exaggeration to say that YPARD is not only a place to launch projects, learn and grow but a force for international peace. 

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