YPARD – Ensuring an inclusive youth contribution to the AASW

Blogpost by Marina Cherbonnier and Peter Casier, two AASW social reporters. Blog post originally posted on The FARA-AASW Blog.

Marina - youth advocate

Meet Marina Cherbonnier, the YPARD Web and Communications Officer. I call her a “can-do-it-all” ball of energy.

She has a background in ICT4D (University of Manchester, UK) and in information and documentation sciences (UCO, Angers, France). She previously was an intern at The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). Marina lived in Lagos, Nigeria, for one year, as the manager of the Media-Libraries at Alliance Francaise.

We caught her for an interview:

What is YPARD?

Marina: YPARD is an international network of Young Professionals FOR Young Professionals in the field of agricultural development. Its mission is to empower young professionals (under 40) via a platform where they can express their ideas and realize their full potential towards dynamic agricultural development.

To this purpose, YPARD aims at facilitating exchange of information and networking among young professionals across disciplines, professions, age and regions.

Part of what we do is broadening opportunities for young professionals to contribute to strategic Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) policy debates, for instance via their participation to key ARD events in order to voice their needs and ideas.

Events like the AASW, the Africa Agricultural Science week?

Marina: Yes, we take part in the implementation of the side event on women and youth empowerment. 41 young professionals were invited to give a voice to the “youth in agriculture” through this. It is fundamental that young people are able to share their experiences, success stories, what they see as opportunities for young professionals in agriculture, their challenges and needs for support.

YPARD was also involved in the preparation of the Youth Social Reporting Program for the AASW in collaboration with CTA, GFAR, FARA and CGIAR. We contributed to nominate the 25 trainees on social media and social reporting, and to building the online group that will support the social media coverage.

Talking about social media. How does YPARD use social media in their outreach?

Marina: YPARD shares news and opportunities posted on via our social media accounts. We keep in touch via our YPARD Facebook group and page to strengthen our “community feeling”. Linkedin group and Twitter are also ways to strengthen the “community feeling” and generate more interaction. YPARD is a family.

We encourage our members to get a voice on social media. YPARD Blog is a “Community Blog”, where members are welcome to share their experience and thoughts as young professionals in agriculture.

Our  YPARD Social Media Team counts 137 people who share and spread key information on social media and solicit feedback from others. It is also a way to show that agriculture is cool and trendy!

YPARD was also heavily involved in the social media outreach for GCARD2, right?

Marina: Yes, YPARD was the mechanism through which the youth were given a significant place and role at the Second Global Conference for Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2). We brought together a group of enthusiastic young people with very special flair for social media and blogging. After a thorough preparation via our online group and a two days training, they excelled as social reporters.

Social Media gave to the event a modern and inclusive approach, where social reporters could express, with their own words, what was discussed by the different stakeholders, and where online participants could contribute, ask questions and comment.

It gave the youth a unique mean to express their own ideas and be heard onsite and online. Stakeholders carry on soliciting us – the youth – to take part in discussions through social reporting and panel discussions at key events.

Young professionals and social media, a success formula we now try to apply to AASW?

Marina: Yes, it is simple, really. We must get heard by the stakeholders present at the event, the decisions makers and beyond. Youth must contribute to discussions, and beyond the side-event on youth empowerment! Youth is a cross-cutting theme and a group with specific needs and innovative ideas that must be spotted throughout ARD matters.

YPARD members, by being involved in the Youth Social Reporting Program and their dedicated side-event will bring key messages for youth empowerment through both youth’s physical presence and online communications.

We trust that young professionals who will attend the AASW will build real capacity in social media. From there, they will be able to bring forward their own initiatives. That’s what happened at the GCARD2.

Beyond this, such a program is a means to the youth, to build self-confidence: by getting aware that they have a voice and that they are allowed to use that voice. They will realize that they have very relevant contributions to make and that it is fundamental they take part in the discussions to ensure a sustainable agriculture and sustainable future. To top  it all, through this unique team experience, they will understand that they are not alone. By unleashing their super power as a group, they have the power to make a real change!

We believe in you, young people! Go tell the world!

Interested in YPARD? Contact if you want to join.