One of the things that people in our organization do best is to realize there’s a need and then take the steps to fill that need.
Back in 2009, Michigan State University Extension 4-H staff realized that they lacked existing processes to help new mentoring staff and AmeriCorps members gain skills and resources for mentor training. A search for current hands-on mentoring training materials came up empty. The team decided to create a curriculum to meet the need.
The result, Ready to Go: Mentor Training Toolkit (4H1642PDF),provides mentoring professionals with a customizable mentor-training curriculum, support for using the curriculum and a toolkit to ensure that all mentors in planned youth mentoring programs have access to evidence-based training.
Led by MSU Extension 4-H senior mentoring specialist Lisa Bottomley, project director for the curriculum, the team includes project managers Molly Frendo, 4-H associate program leader; Anna EldenBrady, former 4-H program worker; Christine Sisung, 4-H program coordinator; and Jillian Tremonti, former 4-H program worker.
Numerous lead authors and contributors made the curriculum possible. They include MSU Extension professionals as well as partners from other organizations such as the Department of Human Services and Alma College.
The team piloted the curriculum at professional development trainings in 2010 and 2011. Peer reviewers made up of mentoring and other youth development professionals with related content-area expertise critiqued the activities. Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications staff edited and designed the final product, completed in October.
Lisa and Molly recently attended the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference Oct. 21-25 in Orlando, Fla. They had the opportunity to share one of the five modules of the curriculum with attendees.
Lisa said, “The new mentoring curriculum was very well received and participants showed enthusiasm for utilizing it as both a volunteer and staff training development tool. Though we designed it to train mentors, it’s proven to be an effective tool to train any youth-serving volunteers.”
Extension educator Scott Lakin found the curriculum to be an excellent resource.
Scott said, “As a new educator, I was able to easily plan a complete, two-evening training for volunteers wanting to become 4-H Tech Wizards Mentors. The training menu examples gave me a framework to adjust for our local needs and the organization of activities by modules ensured I covered all the basics with the new group. Each activity was thoroughly explained in a consistent format, making them easy to refer to during the training and giving me plenty of ways to extend the activity if there was extra time.”
Scott recognizes the versatility of the product.
“I can see this training curriculum being an excellent resource for our mentoring programs, a supplement to our other volunteer training programs and a great product for other organizations to take advantage of for their programs,” Scott said.
You can find the toolkit in the MSU Extension Bookstore as a downloadable PDF. View the free introduction and cover pages to get an idea of the scope of the curriculum.
MSU Extension staff members can purchase a PDF file of the entire curriculum at half price. To make this purchase, you must first log in to the MSUE Bookstore site and create a user profile (if you don’t already have one). You can also log in using a county email and password. Please note, this special offer is only for the full curriculum, not the individual unit modules. The product number for the half-price item is 4H1642PDFMSUE. You can find it by searching for that number or by entering the title.