Mentor Training

Supporting apprenticeship and mentorship in agriculture

 2021/2022

Winter mentor training series

Each fall/winter, NAP offers a series of free mentor training calls that go in-depth into important topics related to mentoring in agriculture. The calls are hosted via Zoom and are led by Julie Sullivan, NAP’s founding mentor and mentor training specialist.

Calls are on specific Tuesdays at 12pm OR Thursdays at 7am, All times are Mountain Time.

Attendance is required for new mentors confirmed to be joining the program, but returning mentors are welcome to attend. These calls are open to the general public.

Each call focuses on a specific aspect of finding your apprentice delivering the education you want to, while managing your operation.

 

#1 You and Your operation as Mentor (Sept 14th, noon OR Sept 16th, 7 am)

Mentoring is different from being an employer in several essential ways. Some mentoring skills are natural for each of us while others will be a stretch; determining your incoming strengths and stretches helps you know what sort of apprentice will work for you. Creating an accurate apprenticeship description that is both appealing and realistic about the ups and downs of regenerative agriculture is the other foundation for an effective and enjoyable mentoring experience.  We’ll discuss mentoring skills to hone, and share ways to describe work schedules, location, isolation, and other factors, to be sure your description will appeal to the applicants you most want to attract.

#2 Evaluating Written Applications (Nov 9th, noon OR Nov 11th 7 am)

How do you sort through written applications? We will share strategies for tackling the pile of applications, and templates for responses to applicants who you would like to interview and those you will decline. Registration will open soon, please check back.

#3 Effective Interviews (Dec 7th noon OR Dec 9th 7 am) 

What interview questions will reveal the skill level, motivation and personality of an applicant? What questions can’t be asked, for legal reasons? How do you find out what you most need to know? And how do you evaluate interviewees? We’ll discuss both phone/video and on-site interviews, which are recommended if Covid protocols allow for such travel. Registration will open soon, please check back.

PAST RECORDED MENTOR TRAINING CALLS 

#1 Recruiting the Apprentice You Want:  How do you write an apprenticeship description that is both appealing and realistic about the ups and downs of ranching and farming? Discuss what issues to address in the description, what to ask in the application, and where mentors have successfully recruited great apprentices. Read the Mentor Handbook chapter on Writing your Site Description.

#2 Evaluating Written Applications: How do you sort through written applications? We will share strategies for tackling the pile of applications, and templates for responses to applicants who you would like to interview and those you will decline. Read the Mentor Handbook chapter on Evaluating Written Applications.

#3 Effective Interviews:  During an interview, what questions will reveal the skill level, motivation and personality of an applicant? What questions can’t be asked, for legal reasons? How do you find out what you most need to know? And how do you evaluate interviewees? We’ll discuss both phone/video and on-site interviews, as we find that having finalists come to see your operation is key to finding the best fit. Experienced mentors will discuss how they structure a working interview. Read the Mentor Handbook chapter on Effective Interviews.

#4 Fairness and Nondiscrimination in Hiring: What can you do to ensure that your hiring process is safe, fair, and equitable for all applicants? What are the things that you must do (or avoid) in order to ensure that you’re not inadvertently discriminating in your hiring? Fairness and Nondiscrimination in Hiring is addressed in the Mentor Handbook chapter on Effective Interviews. 

#5 Setting Expectations: You’ve chosen your apprentice and are preparing for their arrival. Writing an apprenticeship agreement, creating a skills list, and setting clear boundaries at the beginning can support a successful apprenticeship. Read the Mentor Handbook chapter on Setting Expectations.

#6 Balancing Work and Education: How do you structure the workday, week, and month so that work is done and education happens?  Mentors share strategies including weekly planning meetings, how to find those ‘teachable moments’ during a workday, and ways to do up-front training to get your apprentice going and maintain focus, communication and motivation in the busy season. Read the Mentor Handbook chapter on Balancing Work and Education.

#7 Mentoring to create a Self-Starter Apprentice: A great mentor-apprentice experience depends on both parties co-creating relevant goals that take advantage of the built-in learning at your operation, and identify ways your apprentice can engage in solo study, find local resource people to learn from, and visit other operations. Skill sheets are great prompts for this so we’ll discuss ways to make them truly effective and useful to you and your apprentice. Read the Mentor Handbook chapter on Mentoring to Create a Self-Initiating Apprentice.

#8 Feedback: Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most fraught challenges of being a mentor. We offer a variety of tried and true methods and tips to generate objective, honest, and open conversations in scheduled and impromptu feedback sessions.

Are you considering mentoring apprentices or interns on your ranch or farm? Want to improve apprentice recruitment, selection, training, education/work balance work and feedback? This mentor handbook, put together by NAP’s founding mentor and mentor training specialist Julie Sullivan, is a compilation of over 12 years of experience mentoring young agrarians (and all of the trials and tribulation, joys and missteps encountered along the way). It is meant to accompany the mentor training call series provided by NAP each winter. Click the image to the right to launch the digital edition and to download the pdf.

Agrarian Apprenticeship Handbook

The New Agrarian Program has delved deep into the state of agricultural apprenticeship in the US as part of a Thornburg Foundation funded research project. The culmination of this work is a 120+ page book detailing our findings, profiling apprenticeship programs around the US, and a guide to starting an apprenticeship on your ranch or farm. In 2015, the New Agrarian Program launched a national dialogue among agricultural apprenticeship programs in order to foster systemic improvements in agricultural education and practice and to encourage the development of new programs of a consistently high quality. Initial research included in-depth analysis of apprenticeship programs, follow-up interviews, and site visits to diverse regions and regenerative agricultural operations. This work has culminated in Agrarian Apprenticeship. We hope you enjoy reading it, and using it as a resource.  The digital edition is available for free online here, you can download a PDF, or you can order a hard copy in the QC store. The print edition is a limited run, so reserve a copy today by emailing newagrarian@quiviracoalition.org.