Category Archives: Mentoring

How Extension mentoring relates to sailing vessels

On Wednesday, March 30, I got the chance to meet our new Michigan State University Extension staff members at New Staff Onboarding. It was an interesting experience for me welcoming them to the organization, as I am just as new as they are to MSU Extension. As I reflect on their introduction to MSU Extension and my own, I think about the importance in having an organization program that provides guidance and help throughout an employee’s transition. I think that the new MSU Extension mentoring program is going to be the key element in ensuring that our new colleagues have the relationships, tools and resources that they need to have a successful transition.

On the March 7, 2016 all staff webinar, we talked about the importance of mentoring in our organization and ways that you can participate. Overall, we want to make sure that our new staff have a supportive onboarding experience. There is a need to help new staff understand Extension and our role within the university as well as our internal organizational structures such as district teams, institutes and work teams, and stakeholder relationships and interactions. Mentors will help new staff build an effective network of relationships between coworkers and clientele while helping them realize their potential. We also want to provide mentors for those that have been in the organization and are transitioning to a new role.

There are so many benefits to being a mentor. This is a wonderful opportunity to give back and build relationships and trust with others within our organization. Through mentoring, you will also learn from others as well as keep your skills and knowledge up to date. Ultimately, you will share in the success of a new employee and the organization as a whole.

Are you interested in learning more about the new staff mentoring program? The MSU Extension Mentor Work Team is hosting two information and training webinars on April 15 and June 7. I have added the training information at the end of the post, and if you have any other questions about them, please contact Dionardo Pizaña.

In thinking about the metaphor we use for our new staff “onboarding,” I am reminded of John F. Kennedy’s words, “. . . a rising tide lifts all boats.” To tie together both seafaring metaphors: we can lift our entire organization through mentoring and strengthening our new colleagues as we bring them on board.

MSU Extension Mentor Information and Training Webinar

Friday, April 15, 2016

10 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.


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Filed under Mentoring, professional development

New mentoring curriculum is ready to go

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.

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Lloyd Carr speaks to 4-H group about importance of mentoring

I know in some corners of the land of Green and White, it’s hard to laud those associated with the University of Michigan, but when Michigan State University Extension is able to team up with a proven leader like Lloyd Carr on an issue as important as youth mentoring even I can put aside my Sparty pride (especially now that Coach Carr is no longer roaming the sidelines at The Big House).

 Carr, the longtime football coach for the Wolverines, is a Mentor Michigan spokesperson. He visited a Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring event in West Olive to help promote the new Journey 4‑H: The Outdoor Challenge, which pairs adults with youth interested in outdoor activities.

 Coach Carr spoke about the power that adult mentors have in the lives of their mentees, and said he was lucky to have so many people mentor him when he was growing up.

 I can say we are also lucky – lucky that we have great people like Carr working to make a difference and lucky to have dedicated staff members that could put such a wonderful, impactful program together.

 Susan Fenton, Muskegon County Extension program instructor, and Harold McDermed, Ottawa County Extension program instructor, were integral in the formation of The Outdoor Challenge. They put the event on with the help of team members Lisa Bottomley, Barb Brow, BettyBeth Johns and Anne Sullivan. Another big assist came from Amber Troupe from Mentor Michigan and Rob Renes, a Mentor Michigan Leadership Council member and former Wolverine All-American who was coached by Carr. The mentoring relationship was everywhere at the event, right down to the food. A Journey mentor and mentee catered the event.

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MSUE staff member is Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member of the Month

Kristy Oosterhouse was named Michigan’s AmeriCorps Member of the Month. She splits her time between the Michigan State University Extension Eaton County Office and the MSU campus. In Eaton County, Kristy runs STOMP 4-H Youth Mentoring under the guidance of Jenny O’Neal, Extension educator. Kristy and Jenny also recently assumed responsibility for Ingham County’s mentoring program as well in an effort to save it from closing. On campus, Kristy is under the guidance of Molly Frendo, MSUE associate program leader, and Lisa Bottomley, Extension specialist. Her service on campus includes 4-H Mentoring Weekend, the 4-H Guided Adventures curriculum and the 4-H Mentor Training curriculum. Kristy served as a member with the 4-H Mentor Michigan Initiative AmeriCorps program; she now is serving her second year of service with the new Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps.

According to Molly, “Kristy has been one of our super star members over the past two years and we have been very blessed to have her as an integral part of our team.”

Click here to read about more about Kristy.

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Filed under 4-H, Mentoring

Mentors make positive difference in lives of youth

Laura Schleede, Michigan State University Extension 4-H mentoring educator, works with the Ottawa County Mentoring Collaborative to pair mentors with youth mentees who need guidance. Check out this Fox 17 video and article that features, among others, Laura and Becky Midgley, a former 4-H AmeriCorps member. In this video, mentors and mentees enjoy a hayride at the farm of 4-H volunteer Bill Miller. Find out more about the Ottawa County Mentoring Collaborative and the Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring Program by clicking here.

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4-H Mentoring Weekend involves learning, fun for mentoring matches

July 16–18, 55 people that included mentoring matches and a team of volunteer staff members got together for 4-H Mentoring Weekend at Kettunen Center. Participants took part in outdoor leisure activities while strengthening their mentoring relationships. They were able to experience first-hand some of the new activities from the 4-H Guided Adventures project, including fishing, canoeing, kite building, archery and geocaching. Participants also climbed the MAX, Kettunen Center’s new rock wall, created crafts, and explored theater and drama.

 Three hours of the weekend allowed mentors to focus on skill building, using new curriculum from the Michigan 4-H Mentor Training curriculum project, while mentees performed science experiments and got to know each other through a series of team-building activities.

 During free time, mentor matches worked together on a service project to benefit the Ingham County Capital Area Humane Society, explored tie-dyeing, participated in a talent show and took part in a Jell-O fight.

 Programs from around the state were represented at this event made possible with support from an MSUE 4-H Participation Fee Grant and by donations from the Lansing Jaycees and the organizations that covered registration fees for their matches.

 Jillian Tremonti, AmeriCorps member, coordinated the weekend. Lisa Bottomley, Michigan State University Extension 4-H mentoring specialist; Molly Frendo, MSU Extension associate program leader; and Dale Elshoff, conservation education specialist for MSU Extension and the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; provided the staff oversight of the event.

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Mentor of the Year finalist honored at Governor’s Service Awards

Ottawa County Journey 4-H mentor Harry Leeuw was honored as a finalist for Mentor of the Year at the 2010 Governor’s Service Awards on June 24 at the Gem Theatre in Detroit. Forty finalists were selected from more than 130 individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations from across the state who were nominated for their commitment to volunteer service. Harry was one of five finalists for Mentor of the Year. This award honors an individual who has made a significant difference in a child’s life through mentoring.

Harry has mentored two youth during his four years as a mentor through the Michigan State University Extension Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring program. Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring is a one-on-one mentoring program that serves court-involved youth of Ottawa County or those youth who are identified as being high risk for becoming court involved.

Harry was nominated for Mentor of the Year by Harold McDermed, MSUE program associate. According to Harold, “Harry was looking for a mentoring program that gave him the opportunity to work with kids who needed that extra encouragement to do their best and stay out of the court system.”

It looks like Harry found what he was looking for, and it was the best place for him as well as the mentees. Congratulations, Harry!

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