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The Improtance of Mentors

Now that the busy summer is done and fall is settling in, I actually have a little time to be proactive rather than reactive. I have time to catch my breath and do more reflecting on all things related to agriculture.

On a return flight from a poultry training in CA, which was being taught by one of my mentors, Jim Adkins, who is a poultry specialist and founder of the Sustainable Poultry Network. I had a realization about just how important mentors are in education.

As an Extension Agent there is no way I can be a specialists in everything. Extension Agents are generalists by the nature of the job, even though some of us may have fields that we are more proficient in than others; it is a tall order in itself to know a little bit of everything agricultural related. I have been fortunate to have many mentors. Sometimes I didn't realize a certain individual was a mentor at first, and then one day it hit me. You realize that a friend is more than just a friend. He or she is a teacher, a mentor. Family members more often than not are mentors, but we don't usually think of them in that capacity. My Dad has certainly been one of my mentors. What do mentors have to do with agriculture?

Mentors used to be a common means for people to develop a certain skill set or certain knowledge on a specific topic, but today everything you could imagine learning about can be found on the internet. Have we forgotten about the role of mentors? As more people are coming back to agriculture, who may not have an education or back ground in agriculture, the role of a mentor has never been more important. You can only learn so much from reading and YouTube recordings. Those will never replace the one-on-one education you get from a mentor. I can only hope that I can do my mentors justice by paying it forward to others, and I hope people will look to Extension as mentors.