ADVANCINGAG PROGRAM PAIRS EXPERIENCED MENTORS WITH AMBITIOUS MENTEES
BY ELLEN COTTEE
In February 2017, the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley launched a crop sector mentorship program. AdvancingAg: Future Leaders Program pairs mentees aged 18 to 35 with crop sector professionals. The aim is to foster a strong network of future agricultural leaders. Stacie Yaremko and Allison Ammeter are one of the eight pairs.
• The 2017/18 year includes eight mentee/mentor pairings working in the cropping sector, including primary production, research and agricultural policy
• Each mentee is paired with a mentor in his or her field for the full program
• Mentees complete a roadmap with their mentor, complete with objectives and a budget for the duration of the program
• AdvancingAg provides mentees the opportunity and financial means to attend agriculture conferences across Alberta
• Mentees also attend a three-day leadership workshop specifically tailored to the cropping sector
GrainsWest: What was it about AdvancingAg that grabbed your attention?
Stacie Yaremko: I graduated in 2016 and I was looking for something to further my education. I really enjoyed school, but I thought if there was something I could do past the classroom, that would be awesome.
GW: What value do you see in this program for yourself and Alberta’s crop industry?
SY: I think any time you can strengthen new people coming in and get them a good foot to start off on, when you’re coming out of school or starting a new career, it’s a big help. For me, being paired with Allison is great because there are a lot of parallels between us. There’s a lot I can learn from her. The program also gives me the opportunity to go to conferences
and other events that would be cost-
GW: What do you admire about your mentor, Allison?
SY: She’s had a really interesting career overall. It’s really nice to get to know another woman who works on the farm, but she’s also had high-profile involvement with Alberta Pulse Growers and that’s really cool.
GW: What do you hope to learn from Allison?
SY: She has a lot of good advice in a general life sense, like balancing family with your farm and succession planning. Those are things you might not really think about, but are good to know. She also has a lot of good insight on conferences she thought would be good for me to attend, or ones I thought I might want to go to and she can tell me if it’s really the best value for my money.
GW: What do you hope to accomplish through this program?
SY: One of the things I’m really excited about, and Allison emphasized, is the importance of starting a succession plan. She told me it’s a process that can take 10 years from start to finish.
I was super excited to get into the program … it’s going to be a really good experience.
GW: What interested you in the AdvancingAg program?
Allison Ammeter: How could anyone not want to be a part of helping future leaders get everything they need to be a success? When I met Stacie, what impressed me the most was that she’s done a crop science degree, she’s working for a crop life company, but her end goal is to take on the family farm. And that’s the future of agriculture. I’m just excited to even be a small part of helping her along.
GW: What value do you see in the program for Stacie and for Alberta’s crop industry?
AA: The value is partly in giving her an opportunity to get to some conferences and people she might not otherwise get to, both through funding and networking. In my opinion, the networking is going to be the most valuable thing she gains, because everywhere she goes she will be introduced as one of the people involved in the mentorship program. I think what she’ll find is that instead of one or two people mentoring her, she’s going to gain 20 mentors.
GW: What value do you see in this program for the Alberta crop industry?
AA: It’s always a great thing to help the next generation along. That’s the benefit I see, that we will be ensuring that we have bright, dedicated people moving forward.
GW: What do you hope Stacie will learn from you?
AA: What I hope she gets from me is connections. Through my work with the commissions I’ve met a lot of terrific people, and I am hoping over the next year I get to introduce a lot of them to Stacie. Nobody knows everything, so the best thing is to ask questions everywhere.
GW: What have you learned or gained from working with Stacie?
AA: Just talking to her about setting goals has reminded me of the vastness of it. We talked about everything from peer support to machinery repair to succession planning. It has reminded me just how incredibly complex and diverse farming can be.
I wish we all had mentors and mentees. It’s not easy to figure out what you want to ask a mentor or contribute to a mentee, but they’re so critical at any stage of life. Formalizing the program and giving us some guidelines is a great thing.