Four years ago, we coordinated our first mentoring program. We were working on the youth engagement component of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) taking place in Lima, Peru, focused on building the skills and knowledge of the many students and young professionals who were there to engage in these high-level science-policy discussions.
For many of these youth, the GLF was their first international conference – a new and daunting experience! As many young people find it challenging to navigate the complexity of topics, to speak up in discussions, or to network with senior professionals, we organized the Youth in Landscapes Mentoring Program. We paired a handful of senior delegates with young delegates to help them network and understand GLF topics, themes, and forums. And the mentees had the opportunity to share their own knowledge, experiences and insights.
The feedback this pilot mentoring program received was incredible. Said one mentee: “The mentoring program was the best part of GLF for me! I found this experience amazing…I could be more self-confident about knowing professionals related to my work.”
An incredible transformation
So we took what we learned and adapted it for other contexts, running face to face mentoring programs for youth in agriculture in Kenya, online mentoring for young farmers and women in business, conference mentoring for agribusiness incubation and many other programs which you can read about here.
We’ve seen an incredible transformation in hundreds of young agriculturalists and foresters who just needed someone to believe in them. The young people who received mentoring were more likely to see and promote agriculture and forestry as a viable career; have increased opportunities to access funding, from seed funds to loans to scholarships; become more business savvy, and be invited to meaningfully participate in important conferences and events. They were seen as role models in their communities, enabling community resilience and better farming and forestry practices leading to more secure and diverse food and forestry supplies.
Take the case of Esther from Kenya. With her mentor, Nicholas’ support not only did she build her own greenhouse, and break even on her first harvest but a major cultural change took place in Esther’s community. Many neighboring farmers who had previously been unconvinced about modern farming methods watched her farming success and began to replicate her methods. (Read more about Esther, Nicholas and other mentees and mentors in this report).
Over these years we also learnt a lot about coordinating a mentoring program - what worked, what didn’t and why. We remember thinking to ourselves: “wouldn’t it be great if all these learnings and resources were documented somewhere for someone who wanted to start their own mentoring program?”
So this year, we created the resource that we wish we had when we started coordinating mentoring programs all those years ago.
The resource we wish we had
Coordinating a mentoring program: A toolkit for forestry, landscapes and other sectors is a how-to guide that synthesises a decade of learnings and resources from hundreds of agriculture and forestry mentoring programs implemented by Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) and African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).
Through videos, templates and step-by-step guides, the toolkit covers topics such as:
- how to choose a mentoring approach
- how to find resources
- how to find mentors
- how to match mentees and mentors
- how to build, maintain and end a mentoring relationship
- how to evaluate a mentoring program
It’s mostly for people who are considering setting up a mentoring program in or for their organization, community, or wider sector. We want it to help you feel confident to decide if mentoring is the right approach to achieve your organization’s long-term objectives and, if so, take all the steps needed to coordinate a mentoring program.
We also hope the toolkit will help:
- Save you time - examples, templates, stories and learnings already documented for you so you can get started straight away,
- Provide you with a structure and step by step process to help plan and coordinate a mentoring program
- Give you access to decades of wisdom
YPARD, IFSA and AWARD are currently developing additional mentoring products and services to support the use of the toolkit. If you or your organisation is interested in running mentoring programs within/outside your organisation, or at your upcoming events and would like our support to do so, please don’t hesitate to contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
We know there is a huge demand for high quality mentoring in agriculture, forestry and other land sectors. We also know that to ensure that even a fraction of the young people living on this planet are able to receive access to such mentoring opportunities we need to share the tools, templates and stories that we have created or had access to. We hope you find this toolkit valuable in helping make these mentoring opportunities a reality, and for helping young people in forestry, agriculture and other landscapes sectors realize their potential as the leaders of the future.
Access the mentoring toolkit online here.
For a printable PDF, click here.
The mentoring toolkit was developed as part of a GFAR Collective Action and has been funded by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR) and the European Union.
Blog post by Michelle Kovacevic and Sarah Dickson-Hoyle.