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mentorship

Oregon Pasture Network Mentorship Program

If you’re a member of the Oregon Pasture Network, and you want to improve your pasture based livestock, grazing and business practices, apply for our mentorship program today!

Mentorship is an incredible way for new and young farmers to tap into the knowledge of those who have cultivated abundant and relevant experience in farming. It is an opportunity for mentees to learn faster and easier than they would learning many of the same things on their own. It is also an opportunity for mentees to network and connect beyond their peer group.

For mentors, this is an opportunity to share the wisdom they have gained, about business, farming, livestock and grazing management with the next generation of farmers that has the potential to build better businesses, more productive farms and wiser farmers, making our food systems stronger and more resilient.

Both are critical to the future of farming. That’s why we have a program that supports mentees and mentors!

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Oregon Pasture Network mentorship program is ideally intended for farmers who seek personalized guidance from an experienced pasture based farmer and business owner regarding grazing management practices, pasture health and forage diversity, humane livestock management and/or best business practices.

There will also be supplemental sessions offered by outside experts and OPN on marketing pasture based products, relevant funding resources, land conservation strategies and other related technical assistance opportunities.

Applications for the first mentorship cohort will be available in January 2023. The mentorship program requires a six (6) month commitment, from March 2023 to September 2023. Space for this first cohort is limited to four (4) mentees, and each mentee selected to be a part of the program is required to pay an administrative fee upon entry into the program.

 

DATES TO REMEMBER

Live Information Session : Thursday, January 12, 2023 | 6:30-7:30pm

Application Available : Monday, January 16, 2023

Participating Mentors Announcement : Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Application Deadline : Friday, February 10, 2023

Applicant Review : February 10, 2023 – February 20, 2023

Selection of Mentees : Friday, February 24, 2023

Mentorship Program Orientation : Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Official Mentorship Program Kickoff : Friday, March 3, 2023

Completion of Cohort #1 : Friday, September 1, 2023

FOR MENTORS

FOR MENTEES

Eligibility for Mentors

  • A competent Oregon based farmer and business owner who is either an OPN member in good standing, or an experienced farmer/farm business owner that has been operating a farm and raising livestock on pasture for 10 or more years.
  • Someone who is “well seasoned” and cares deeply about the success of the next generation of farmers.
  • Someone who “walks the walk” when it comes to animal welfare, building soil, growing healthy, nutrient dense and diverse pastures, initiating and maintaining conservation projects on their land, and in many cases, implementing beyond organic practices.
  • Someone with the willingness and ability to teach.
  • REQUIRED : Someone who can commit to a minimum of three (3) hours per month for six (6) months, or a total minimum time commitment of 18 hours over the course of the program.
  • REQUIRED : Someone who can engage in reliable and consistent sessions with mentees  that take place via phone, email, zoom and at least one in person visit to each mentee’s farm. An additional two (2) hours for notetaking and debrief sessions may be necessary.

Mentor Benefits

  • Share your wealth of acquired and accumulated knowledge and expertise
  • Help beginning/new farmers avoid pitfalls
  • Establish meaningful relationship with new and beginning farmers
  • Receive a stipend of $600.00 plus travel expenses reimbursement

 

Eligibility for Mentees

  • Can be a current Oregon Pasture Network member in good standing.
  • Should be a new, beginning or established small scale farmer in Oregon, can be a single person, or a group but must occupy the same land for farming activities.
  • Should be a farmer who is selling (or has the desire to sell) pastured products direct-to-consumer.
  • Should be a farmer raising at least one species of livestock on pasture (can include dairy and fiber producers as well).
  • Should be a farmer who has livestock farming experience for a minimum of two years.
  • Should be someone who is willing to learn.
  • Able to pay $75.00 enrollment fee.
  • NOT REQUIRED : A farmer who already sells pastured products direct to consumers.
  • REQUIRED : A farmer who can commit to one, 2 hour virtual or in person (farm visit) session with mentor per month, AND one 30-45 minute phone call once a month for six months (minimum of 3 hours per month or 18 total hours over the course of the program).

Mentee Benefits

  • Access to a unique opportunity to learn from an experienced farmer
  • Learn how to improve practices in business, livestock or pasture/grazing management systems
  • Receive hands on guidance
  • Accomplish farm/business goals tied to long-term profitability or viability
  • Build relationships in the farming community!

 

How does this program work?

The Oregon Pasture Network mentorship program is ideally intended for farmers who seek personalized guidance from an experienced pasture based farmer and business owner regarding grazing management practices, pasture health and forage diversity, humane livestock management and/or best business practices.

The program is open to new and beginning farmers, as well as already established farmers in Oregon. There will also be supplemental sessions offered by outside experts and OPN on marketing pasture based products, relevant funding resources, land conservation strategies and other related technical assistance opportunities.

Applications for the first mentorship cohort will be available in January 2023. The mentorship program requires a six (6) month commitment, from March 2023 to September 2023. Space for this first cohort is limited to four (4) mentees, and each mentee selected to be a part of the program is required to pay the $75 administrative fee upon entry into the program.

 

What is the goal of this program?

 

Experienced farmers have a deep desire to give back and new or beginning farmers have the interest and need to learn directly from someone who has done what they are trying to do, and that is the explicit goal of this program – an information exchange in practice.

The Oregon Pasture Network is committed to expanding pasture based agriculture across the state of Oregon for small family farms. We want to help producers improve livestock and grazing practices, so that farms can build community food resilience, raise awareness of the benefits of pastured food products, create local jobs, and stay economically viable during uncertain times.

By offering a mentorship program of this kind to pastured producers, we create the ability to provide direct and customized technical assistance to small farmers. There are OPN farmers who are beginners, some are very well seasoned and some are right in the middle. We believe that all farmers can benefit from direct mentorship, however our hope is that the farmers who have been farming for a few years, that still wish to improve their practices, have specific business goals and are interested in being mentored, will apply for this unique opportunity.

As the program grows, it is our goal to continue to provide small farmers with the technical assistance, education and resources that help farmers improve their business and farming practices, and ultimately improve their products.

 

Expected Outcomes

 

Outcomes will vary based on individual goals. Upon being selected to participate in this mentorship program, mentees should have 2-3 specific goals in mind that they would like to achieve during the 6-month mentorship program. Goals can vary, but should be focused around growing a farm based business, improving grazing practices and forage, improving animal welfare, breeding programs or obtaining certifications (i.e.: organic or AWA) and specific learning outcomes will be customized for individual farms.

At the end of the cohort, both mentors and mentees will be expected to conduct a 30-60 minute debrief with OPN staff, fill out an online survey and provide a short 1-2 page written report (images optional) on their experience. This feedback will help us improve the program for future cohorts.

If you have additional questions, please email opn@friendsoffamilyfarmers.org and make sure to register for and attend our information session on Thursday, January 12, 2023!