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Welcoming YPARD Partnerships Officer – Martina Graf

Marina Graf, YPARD Partnerships OfficerWe are delighted to welcome Martina Graf as YPARD Partnerships Officer.

Martina works as scientific collaborator within the topic of making agriculture more sustainable using a tool called RISE - Response Inducing Sustainability Evaluation.

“I love travelling and so do I love travelling through the world of agriculture, both on national and international level. Since 15 years I can call agriculture an important part of my life.”

Being passionate about agriculture was what brought Martina from working on farms into her Bachelor Studies of international agriculture, where she could realize her thesis in the context of irrigation systems for coffee in Nicaragua.

Back in Switerland, with a degree in her pocket, Martina decided to go back on farm with the aim not to forget what it means to work in the field. Thanks to having worked for some years as a vocational teacher in a farmers’ school in the center of Switzerland, Martina obtained a great insight view on what perspectives, hopes and fears the youth in agriculture faces.

It was in Nicaragua where Martina lost her professional heart to the topic of water management and international agriculture. That’s why in 2011 she enrolled in the Master’s Degree Program “Sustainable Production Systems in Agriculture” where she focused on water management in small watersheds (Guatemala) and finished in 2014.

At the same time Martina changed her job and became an Assistant in the Master Degree of the University of Applied Sciences, School for Agriculture, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL). Shortly after that, in 2012 she got in charge of building up and coordinating YPARD Europe.

Ever since, the number of YPARD European members steadily increased. Starting with “just” one Country Representative in Switzerland, YPARD Europe up to date has 16 countries involved; namely: Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Denmark, Turkey, Russia and Kosovo.

“Building up a network made me realize that I’m a networker by heart! Concrete actions jointly with others are important to me. But I also like to be there when it comes to strategic decisions that make a difference. At YPARD, both are needed.

I love to build a bridge from field to science and the other way round. In my free time you still can find me on my friends’ farm, lending them my helping hand.

As the coordinator of YPARD Europe, I had access to a large number of young, active and innovative professionals. We all share a passion for agriculture and food security and know its meaning: The source of life!”

After some years of involvement in YPARD, Martina feels even more convinced about how crucial it is to have networks such as YPARD.

“Youth often is threatened as a minority, even if their share in the global population is high. Giving a voice to the youth in an aging sector needs to be supported through all kind of youth organisations and networks! And ideally collaborate in different ways to get more strength and power!”

Becoming YPARD partnerships officer represents an opportunity for Martina to bring in her experience and give her support to YPARD in building up further partnerships to secure more divers funding during 2015.

“YPARD as a network with a growing number of members and partnerships brings an added value to all kind of institutions and organizations involved in agriculture for development. Thus I’ll give my best to develop a concrete strategy for fundraising, will take care of existing partnerships and build new ones. All for a strong YPARD community and youth in agriculture!”

We can’t wait to hear more about Martina’s fundraising plans and we trust that Martina will be successful in attracting new partners through her leadership.

Welcome on Board, Martina!