Irene Román Martínez loves sharing with people, walking incognito among crowds, rolling up her sleeves to work on the land and learning every second of the accumulated wisdom of our older adults: something that she achieves instantly with her simplicity, candid sympathy and almost omnipresent smile.
But make no mistake, or be fooled by its youthful appearance. Without making noise, or fitting into the typical image of an agronomy expert, Irene has become one of the most knowledgeable, resonant and influential voices in the south of the country, on core topics such as sustainable agriculture, the proliferation of home gardens and the urgency to preserve the natural resources of the region.
To verify this, just listen to her in person or during one of her weekly speeches on WPAB 550. With a few words, in a clear and affable manner, Irene floods everyone with accurate knowledge and injects into each one the energy it takes to overcome the laziness and start changing the world, starting with ourselves.
Who inherits it …
His passion for the land, he confesses, originated from his cradle in the Quebrada Limón neighborhood of Ponce. There, his first and most precious teachers – his mother and grandmother – showed him that few treasures compare with the gifts that the field gives and the delicacies that are produced there for the Puerto Rican family’s table.
“From my mother and grandmother, I developed a great sense of respect for the land. My grandfather also worked a bit in agriculture and raised animals, ”explained the professional who decades later earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez and a Master’s degree from North Dakota State University.
And although as a teenager he flirted with the idea of inserting himself into an academic career linked to health, today he recognizes that he was the example of his father, the also agronomist Franklin Román Rodríguez, as well as his participation in the 4H program of the Office of Agricultural Extension from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, which in the end defined his mission in this world.
“He had other university interests. Gerontology and Forensic Psychology attracted my attention, but destiny and also the urgency to preserve our resources, little by little led me to see an opportunity, a profession in Agronomy ”, he commented.
As he explained, the 4H Club is an educational project based on the “learning by doing” philosophy. And it was precisely those experiences that galvanized his connection to what would become his passion: his successful career.
“We had the opportunity to work with pigs, with crops with agricultural products. Definitely that experience was the one that ignited my passion for the land and this race ”, he pointed out.
But in her facet as a professional, Irene has dedicated the past years to work as an agricultural agent, spreading the seed of her knowledge among communities, private entities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), territories in which she has promoted planting as the essential weapon for food safety.
“Fulfilling the work of agricultural agent with the Department of Agricultural Extension, I have the opportunity to provide technical advice, free of charge, to communities and different groups in the municipality of Ponce. Previously, I was in Fajardo, Ceiba and Peñuelas, ”added those who are convinced that knowledge is essential to promote food sustainability.
This knowledge, he insists, added to a collective revival of agriculture, have fostered “an unexpected link between young people and adults, to try to recover practices that allow us to harvest certain products.”
And although she recognized that this is a challenging field for women, she observed with enthusiasm that in Puerto Rico every day there are a greater number of women graduated in this profession and dedicated to raising the country’s agricultural sector.
An unequivocal example is Irene herself, who is no longer just a reference for them, but for the broad spectrum of Agronomy, a profession dominated by gentlemen.
Your goals, however, are not limited to what you have done in the past, or what you accomplish today. As she confessed, she aspires to reach the maximum evolution as an agronomist and apply all the knowledge learned until she becomes an agribusinesswoman.
Although she accepts that this goal demands much more commitment and sacrifices, she insists that she is willing to adopt them. “In the future I see myself achieving that and growing even more as an agronomist,” he concluded.
Communities, entities and NGOs interested in planning or developing agricultural projects, can write to Irene Román Martínez at the email [email protected]