Steffen Mallast

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Instead of veterinarian, co-creator of agricultural policy

Steffen Mallast - BSc and MSc Organic Agriculture, graduated 2016.

Currently: Technical advisor for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the Lower Saxony state parliament, Hanover.

I was born and raised in Hanover. Nevertheless, I have never felt like a pure city kid. We have family ties to South Tyrol, where I have spent around four weeks every year of my life in a rural idyll. My uncle is a large veterinarian there, and I've been on the road with him a time or two. It had actually been clear to me for some time that I would study veterinary medicine in Hanover after graduating from high school. However, I didn't want to go straight from school to university, and since I was exempt from military service, I decided to do a voluntary ecological year on a Demeter farm.

In addition to educational work with school children and interested adults, I was firmly scheduled to work in the sheep and goat barn. Milking, feeding and moving pasture fences were fixed points in the daily routine. The very open contact on the 160 hectare farm also allowed me to gain insight into other areas of the versatile farm with pigs, cows and a differentiated arable farming. My interest in agriculture was aroused.

Nevertheless, I pursued my original idea of studying veterinary medicine. To my great surprise, I did not get a place despite good A-level grades. Rather out of necessity, I then spent a few weeks in November in Wendland preparing for the Castor protests and then did a two-month internship at the federal office of the Greens in Berlin. Coincidence Witzenhausen

My studies

By chance, I learned at that time about the ecological agricultural studies in Witzenhausen and the possibility to start there also for the summer semester. Without ever having been there, I enrolled after reading the information leaflets.

The first weeks of my bachelor studies I lived in a dormitory. Due to the pleasant size of Witzenhausen and the almost familiar environment at the university, I quickly made new contacts. The bachelor's program was thematically very broad and laid many foundations that I could fall back on in the further course. In particular, the many practical elements made even subjects like physics exciting courses. As the number of semesters progressed, the basic studies required of everyone moved further and further into the background. Now I had to choose modules according to my own interests and align my studies with my own goals and ideas. At the end of my bachelor's degree, it became clear to me that I would like to study even longer, although Witzenhausen was the only place I could seriously consider because of its content.

Witzenhausen stroke of luck

At the same time, I had become a father in the meantime, with my girlfriend and the child living in Hanover. Now it became clear that Witzenhausen was not only a tranquil place in a relatively rural environment, but that it also had excellent transport connections. So during my master's studies I mostly commuted from Hanover to the university, quite often staying overnight in Witzenhausen with friends. Here, the advantages of the very free, modular master's program in organic agriculture became apparent once again. I not only took seminars in Witzenhausen, but also at the university in Göttingen. Even in Hanover, where there is no faculty of agriculture, I was able to take courses in horticulture and environmental planning and get credit for the master's program in Witzenhausen. I wrote my actual master's thesis in the field of agricultural history. This is a subject that unfortunately no longer exists in this form, as it does at many other German universities.

Jura as a supplement

After finishing my studies, I had a pretty concrete idea of what a future job would have to look like. I didn't want to have to commute anymore (now that I have two children) and I wanted to have enough time for my family. It was also important for me to be able to set impulses with my work, and last but not least, the work should be reasonably remunerated. Since these criteria could not be implemented immediately in Hanover, I added another course of study to my master's degree. After four semesters of law (including a successful intermediate exam), a position as a specialist advisor in the Green parliamentary group in Lower Saxony became available.

For some years now, I have been allowed to help shape the Green positions in the area of "agriculture, animal welfare, forestry & hunting" from the background. In doing so, I can draw on a lot of what I brought with me from Witzenhausen. And that is indeed not only the content from my studies, but also a multitude of contacts and acquaintances.

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