A. Define the Term Mentor
A mentor is an experienced or trusted advisor who provides guidance. We are looking for a mentor to provide advice and guidance in setting up and designing a grazing plan. A mentor needs strong communication skills, the ability to articulate details and good teaching skills. However, our goal is to allow producers to make their own decisions.
B. The Role of the Mentor
The first fence post is always the hardest one to pound so the job of the mentor is to help guide the producer towards a suitable grazing plan that will fit within their farm’s context. Mentors need to be careful not to “tell them what to do,” but to instead give them ideas and help them decide what is best for their operation. Every farm is different and every environment is different so we need to be aware of the unique situation at every farm. What works best on one farm might not be the best plan on another. The key is to provide them with the core basics of an Advanced Grazing System (AGS) and guide them to make the best decisions for the context of their operation. This may also be an opportunity for the mentor to develop their own private consulting and education service over time. If and when the mentorship process comes to a close, the mentors should be able to continue helping others in a private consulting capacity if they so choose.
C. The Mentorship Process
How the mentorship program is delivered will be flexible and may be delivered differently in different areas and with different mentors. It can be set up as classroom education style, a one-on-one farm mentorship or a combination of both. Virtual options are also available as we are developing online content to help facilitate the mentorship process.
D. Possible Pitfalls of Mentorship
It is important to set some boundaries at the beginning of each mentorship. This will be up to each individual mentor to explain how much follow-up mentorship is allowed and by what method the producer is to contact the mentor. If this boundary is not set, there is the possibility that the producer will become reliant on the mentor and contact them far too often. The mentor must maintain the privacy and confidentiality of each producer. We need to be respectful of all our participants.
E. Liability Issues in the Mentorship Process
Liability can also be a concern. A producer is often looking for help when they are in a financial crisis. We need to be cautious of advice given as to not make the situation worse. Sometimes to jump in with both feet is the best option, but in other situations, baby steps might be the best way forward. We do not want to tell them what to do. It is better to give a few options and allow the producer to choose their own way forward.
F. Context - Every Farm and Farmer is Different
We have to keep context in the back of our mind when we are mentoring. The choices made need to fit within the context of the individual farm. There are many factors that need to be considered when choosing a plan. Each person or family has their own personal constraints. This may be physical limitations or it may be time limitations. It is also important to try to understand the personality styles of those involved in order to guide them in a suitable direction. Discuss herd constraints at each operation. The type and class of livestock may change the setup required as well as the style of grazing. Be aware of any physical land constraints within the farming operation as well as any environmental concerns. A suitable grazing plan needs to fit the context of the operation. What works on the mentor’s farm might not be suitable for every farm.
G. Personality Styles
DISC is an acronym that stands for the four main personality profiles described in the DiSC model: (D)ominance, (I)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness.
People with D personalities tend to be confident and place an emphasis on accomplishing bottom-line results.
People with I personalities tend to be more open and place an emphasis on relationships and influencing or persuading others.
People with S personalities tend to be dependable and place the emphasis on cooperation and sincerity.
People with C personalities tend to place the emphasis on quality, accuracy, expertise and competency.
In the context of each farm, we need to account for the personality types of the members included, especially in management. Some industries tend to attract one type of personality over the others. Agriculture is no exception as it has a strong tendency towards the S personality. They are the dependable, hard-working people who stick it out. They do not like to change. The majority of the other styles tend to leave for other professions. The D personality is not going to follow Dad forever and do as they are told until the day they might get control. They are leaders and will go lead elsewhere. The I personality has a hard time working alone. Sitting in a tractor all day on their own is not for them. They will leave for a more social setting. The C personality needs structure and strives for perfection. Plans constantly changing and farmer fixing things does not go over well with a C personality. That leaves us with the S personality that sticks it out and eventually takes over the farm. They don’t want to change and are content doing what they have always done.
Population Breakdown of the Four Personality Styles:
D = 18% I = 28% S = 40% C = 14%
Agricultural Breakdown of the Four Personality Styles:
D = 10% I = 12% S = 70% C = 8%
When you’ve read and watched this information you are ready to move on to the group session. Check with Carlene at [email protected] if you would like to sign up our sessions for June 21th and 24th or October 11th and 14th.
Would you like to review past modules? Click on the links below.