Upon the invitation of Prof. Madan M. Dey, Chair of the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Texas State University in San Marcos, Mundus maris Vice President Prof. Stella Williams paid a visit to campus on 13 April 2023. In the occasion, she taught a class of post-graduate students from India, Bangladesh and the USA summarising some of her rich research, teaching and, indeed, life experience on promoting women and youths in agriculture and how to support them to grow into leadership roles with a focus on Nigeria.

Despite its wealth in minerals agriculture continues to play an important role in Nigeria's economy and ensures livelihoods for a significant part of the population, particularly in rural areas. Women and youths face multiple challenges despite providing most of the work on family farms. Partially as a result of traditional culture, women are barely recognised for their roles as bread winners in food production, processing and marketing. That has negative repercussions on their ability to access training, credit and market access. 

The NiWARD - Nigerian Women in Agriculture Research and Development - Initiative founded by Stella Williams back in 2013 provides mentoring to talented women researchers in Agriculture. It has grown an important support network with tangible benefits not only for mentees and their mentors, but for agricultural development in the country. Special attention is also paid to young people to discourage leaving the country in search of greener pastures.

The two hour class consisted not only of a lecture, but offered also an as well as creating opportunities for an interactive discussion expanding the conversation to related natural resource sectors, such as fisheries. In this context, Stella Williams could also share some experiences on how to do action research with small-scale fishers and strengthen their capacities for defending their rights through collective action. Mundus maris connects field activities with academic work such as engaging researchers at conferences. 

In the occasion, she also encouraged the students to think of celebrating World Ocean Day on 8 June. This year's UN motto is "Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing" as major global agreements in recent months are spelling hope that we will make strides forward on urgent biodiversity and ocean protection. These hopes are pinned particularly on the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in December 2022 and the Agreement to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) reached on 4 March 2023. So World Ocean Day 2023 should be all about changing the tide through the promotion of fast ratifications and preparations for full implementation of the full protection of 30% of the ocean covering all types of ecosystem by 2030.

On the heels of the class, Stella also gave a campuswide one-hour lecture as part of the University's Global Agricultural Leadership seminar with a focus on women and youth promotion. Some 50 participants between students, faculty and staff members attended. The Dean thanked her afterwards for an inspiring presentation and suggested that such experiences could be useful in collaboration with other countries as well. Likewise a student expressed her satisfaction in getting new ideas of what to do after graduation. The slides are available here.