When YPARD, was established in 2006, young generations were increasingly lacking interest in agriculture; there was insufficient participation of young professionals in dialogues addressing critical development issues; and inadequate access to resources to meet these problems.
The youth in agriculture landscape has immensely grown in these last couple of years and YPARD is happy to be associated with this progress.Within the last 10 years of its existence, the network has made major strides growing to be a thought leader when it comes to amplifying the voices of youth on topical issues in agricultural development. This growth, however, has come with its own share of recurring challenges.
With the YPARD business plan 2014-2018 coming to a close, in the spring of 2017 the Global Coordination Unit commissioned the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) to re-examine and report on YPARD overall evolutions and performance and to provide recommendations regarding priorities for future actions. A couple of recommendations were suggested and formed the baseline for YPARD next move.
Internalizing diversity at YPARD, at the end of 2017, YPARD launched a call for YPARD Visionaries to attend the YPARD Strategic meeting from March 5th -9th 2018 at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS). Eight network members were competitively selected from a list of 38 applicants and they joined the YPARD SDC focal point, the Steering Committee, the Global Coordination Unit, the Regional Coordinators and other partners for a four-day intensive strategic planning and fundraising session.
With the blessings and appreciation from the host, Jan Banout, Dean Faculty of Tropical Sciences at CULS, we commenced on the week-long meeting which was divided into two sessions: The first being the strategic planning meeting that had 25 people in attendance and the second being the fundraising session that had 20 people in attendance.
For the strategic planning meeting, the participants had interactive and focussed discussions geared towards creating a new strategy spanning from 2018 - 2012. The strategy is still under refinement but some of the notable mentions include;
The change of scope from young professionals in agricultural development to young professionals in food systems
The revision of the mission and vision to be in line with the changing times.
The articulation of the values the network works within.
Revision of YPARD aims and objectives for 2018-2021
Redefining how the governance structures at YPARD work
The fundraising training sought to develop the participants funding capacity. It featured a presentation and pitching exercises from the trainer Jolan Cooper van Herwaarden a seasoned fundraising expert. Jim Cano was kind enough to capture the sessions via Facebook Live for those not in attendance to follow and for posterity purposes. See the recordings in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Behind The Scenes
The Food Sharing
As part of the socialization process, the participants were requested to bring a snack from their country for sharing with others. As a result of this, during coffee breaks, we indulged in snacking and we were able to taste a spicy yam cake from Ghana, some homemade cookies from Nepal, Guacamole from Nicaragua and dates from Armenia; dried fruits from Uganda among others ..
The City of Prague Tour
The team braved the snow and went out for a 4-hour tour in the city of Prague visiting the castle, Charles Bridge on Vltava River, St. Vitus Cathedral and the old town.
The Signing of the MOU between CULS and YPARD
The meeting also provided an opportunity for YPARD Europe to sign an MOU formalizing the institution as the hosting body for the YPARD Europe Coordination Unit. In attendance was the CULS rector, Skleni?ka Petrprof. Ing. CSc. YPARD global coordinator, the YPARD Europe coordinator, the YPARD Africa coordinator and the YPARD Asia and Pacific coordinator.The formalization for these two institutions ensures greater youth engagement in the agricultural development in Europe in the coming years.
Have your say: Participants takeaway from the meeting
24 participants, came, networked with each other and brainstormed the YPARD next direction. Here are some of the key takeaways from some of the participants;
We built a renewed strategic framework to respond accordingly to the new challenges and opportunities faced by the young professionals in agriculture, we all are glad to make part of this important process for the most beloved organization for the youth in the ag sector.~ Daniela Rivas
An energizing meeting full of optimistic, passionate and committed young people reimagining a future where they are engaged in creating and sustaining food systems around the world.~ Bill Downing
My key takeaway from this meeting was the power of a strategic planning process that is well designed and facilitated and has a good representation of voices in the room from all levels and regions of an organization as big and diverse as YPARD. The discussions we had were deep and wide-ranging and the decisions we made about where YPARD needs to go in the next three years were really inspiring for me personally. I really look forward to seeing how the country plans take inspiration from YPARD's refreshed vision, mission and aims to better serve youth in agriculture on the ground.~ Michelle Kovacevic
I got to know many talented and motivated young YPARDians. I also got more experience about working in Strategy development, broke any stereotypes about Fundraising and improved my skills. In particular, I learned to Sell the impact, not the means Remember why you started and Fundraisers dont ask for money fundraisers sell hope. ~ Cristina Conea
The time in Prague made us reflect on what YPARD has done, think deeply and critically what we want YPARD to do and how to strategically go about achieving it. This meeting was a special kind and refreshing reminder that self-improvement can be challenging but with a great team, it can be simple and fun! The fundraising training changed the way I think about fundraising and how I put myself out there to mobilize for resources. ~ Paul Zaake
Magic and adventure happened in Prague; ideas were conjured, strangers transformed into friends and coffee made everyone smile. Together we blazoned through a murky trail, unsure of our destination, and together we emerged, inspired and ignited to embark on one more adventure: YPARDs new strategy ~ Sunil Abeyasekera
YPARD SPM 2018 is the most awesome experience I have ever had. This was not just an usual intense meeting but was immersed in fun. There were the most genius heads around me planning for the better world. The group activities, fundraising activities and going live from the meeting were the most memorable time for me while at the meeting. Behind the scenes, it was 3X more fun as the working time. There was a full package of delights planned just for us be it visiting snowy Prague in the late evening or the cruise ( and our surprises) or dance or the delicious Czech food, everything was perfectly planned. Thanks to the organizers, planners and our SPM 2018 team for making this trip memorable for me. ~Nikita Bhusal
YPARD SPM 2018-2020 was definite success thanks to amazing organizing team, super supportive participants and professional facilitators. Enjoyed every single moment of it.~ Astghik Sahakyan