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From Andes to Appalachian: YPARD represented at Community Solutions Program 2018

Hi, YPARDians from all over the world!

With great pleasure, I am reporting from my desk at the Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Program of Rural Action, a leading American nonprofit which successfully promotes holistic rural development in southeast and central eastern counties of Appalachian Ohio since 1991. 
Basically, my work here focusses on:

  • Create a strategy to promote the Women Grow Ohio (WGO) network and expand membership across Appalachian Ohio.
  • Help in the development of a marketing campaign for brokering and processing of Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and Paw Paw (Asimina triloba). 
  • Create recommendations for sustainable practices in program delivery and management for Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture & Forestry.
  • Work with team members to finish the Chesterhill Produce Auction community cookbook.

So, are you wondering how my journey from the Andes to the Appalachia started?

Well, some years ago, I saw some information about the Community Solution Program (CSP) in a YPARD’s newsletter and I did some research. I discovered then that CSP is one of the several, great professional development programs that the United States Department of State is offering to young professionals across the world. So, last year, I decided to finally apply.

This year, 2018, CSP reunites 92 fellows from 67 countries, passionately working on 4 areas of development: environment, tolerance and conflict resolution, transparency and accountability, and women and gender. As a Peruvian animal scientist working in Agriculture for Development (Ag4Dev) through my whole career and proudly YPARDian since 2012, I applied for a position to improve both my leadership skills and technical knowledge regarding sustainable agricultural value chain, marketing and project management for development…and I got it!

Community Solutions is a year-long program from which you have access to its three components:

  1. A four-month fellowship at a U.S. community-based organization, government office or legislative body (in my case, I am now as a mentee of Rural Action, a local NGO that rocks!)
  2. The Community Leadership Institute, a postgraduate, in person and E-learning course to enhance your leadership and management for development skills (with lots of wonderful interactive resources that I love!)
  3. A community development project, to be implemented when you are back home, with the guidance from your U.S mentors! (And, of course…this project is going to be implemented with YPARD in Peru between January and June 2019! We are thinking about improving our previous Young Changemakers for Rural Development project)

I am having one of the best times of my whole life here in the majestic Appalachians! I am learning a lot and realizing that the problems that young farmers are facing there in Peru, in Nigeria, in Kazakhstan, in Moldova or here in the U.S are pretty much the same! We need to encourage much more people to feed the world! We need more young hands in the soil, all over the world!  

I will be eternally grateful to YPARD for helping me to shape my career in Ag4Dev and provide me with such beautiful opportunities every time that I read our newsletter. You can be the next YPARDian to represent us and head up to the U.S, as I am this 2018 and  Atinuke Bodunde Lebile – from Nigeria -  was selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, last year. 

So, follow YPARD on our social media channels and review our newsletter to access a world of opportunities! 

For additional information on the Community Solutions Program, please visit click here or email


Photo credit: Natalia Lozano Broncales