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"YPARD was my gateway, for you it could be"

I first entered the YPARD website in early 2011 through a link from CTA’s Knowledge for Development web portal which I explore often. I always see the YPARD logo/icon on the site but continued to ignore it since I did not know what doors it could open for me. After finishing what I was doing on that fateful day, a thought flashed my mind to click on the logo/icon and see what it meant. That click changed my professional life for the better. Inside the YPARD website, I saw astounding things-gamut of links to opportunities for research fellowships, conferences, workshops, trainings, publications and possible networking partners and opportunities in the field of ARD. Example, from the site, I was linked to a call for applications for 2011/2012 ACU Titular Research Fellowship (University of Manitoba Fellowship) which I applied for and was awarded the fellowship to carry out research on a neglected bean, Senna spps, at the Department of Biosystems Engineering, University of Manitoba, Canada. Also, I was sponsored by YPARD to the Nairobi conference on Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services in November, 2011. Attending the conference grew my global contacts and reach. All these benefits further improved my self-image, resume, professional experience and career growth. Also, through the blogs and e-discussions, I am able to share my thoughts with other young professionals in ARD at no cost and in an unfettered manner. Publishing here is refreshingly important for my freedom of expression compared to publishing in research journals which impose stringent reporting formats, styles and contents on authors, causing suppression of creativity. Peeping down history, I learn the world had experienced different eras- stone, iron, medieval, renaissance, industrial revolution and jet ages. Now we are in the ICT/internet age. Before now, we sought information, did business and made friends across the globe through contacts by air, land and sea transportation. This came at great costs to our time, safety and finances. However, the present web age implies that those long and arduous movements across the thousands of miles on the earth takes weeks, months and years to reach final destinations, and yet even longer time to get feedback. This can now be achieved within minutes, hours or days at little or no cost by online means or belonging to networks like YPARD. It is now inevitably necessary to key into the benefits of online networking and collaboration as professionals in ARD so as not to become irrelevant in the profession. For me, YPARD was my gateway. For you it could be. To begin with, wouldn’t you rather click on the YPARD icon!Julius Ingweye, Nigeria