Highlights of the Spring 2018 Community Food Systems Mentorship Program

The results are in! The 2018 Spring Community Food Systems Mentorship Program was a success! First, a huge thank you goes to the mentors who shared their expertise, their insights, and their time with our first mentee cohort. We’re excited for this second round of Mentorship to start (applications are now open - learn more here: https://foodsystemsleadershipnetwork.goentrepid.com/pages/mentors and thought we’d share with you some observations and insights we’ve received from the first round. About the Mentorship Program Too often, we can only admire leaders and changemakers from afar; this mentorship program opens the door for personal relationships to be made, wisdom to be shared, and ideas to be exchanged. Through the Community Food Systems Mentorship Program, non-profit staff and leaders have the opportunity to connect with a seasoned food systems expert who has been a driving force for food systems change. Over the course of four months, participants receive guidance from their mentor on a range of topics centered around the mentees’ current needs. As you consider applying for the Fall round of Mentorship, take a look at what our first cohort had to say: Building relationships Mentorship can be more than tactical advice, mentees have built strong relationships with their mentors that will support their continued growth: “Having a trusted mentor who I felt totally comfortable being 100% myself with was incredibly helpful and supportive through an intense period of professional growth. There was never any sense of professional formality keeping my mentor and I from being real with each other, which is a huge part of why the mentorship was such a beneficial experience. The time I took out of my day to connect with my mentor was always reenergizing and made me feel like, I can do this. It's hard, and I may not feel very confident or like I have all the right tools and skills right now, but I am growing, and I can keep moving forward.” Personal growth for the food systems leader Each mentee shared a common hunger for personal and professional for growth as a systems leader. Mentees gained confidence in their skill sets and left with a new determination to create change: “The mentorship helped me recognize my unique skillset and define how I want to shape my contributions in the food sovereignty movement. Working with my mentor gave me more confidence to take the next step in my career." “My mentor was patient, kind, and pushed me to think deeply about systems leadership. He asked thought provoking questions that helped me discover my values, beliefs, and priorities without ever pushing ideas on me. This program has been incredibly instrumental in helping me shift to the next stage of my career.” Contributions to organizational growth The personal and professional growth experienced during the Mentorship Program has supported the overall health of the mentees’ organizations: “This experience came at a pivotal point in our organization and was invaluable to our growth and our strategic planning.” “I applied to work with my mentor to improve my knowledge and understanding of how food moves into larger volume wholesale markets. I was able to work successfully with my mentor to download and absorb a huge amount of information in a relatively short time. Now I feel that I have the necessary information to help farmers think through the implications of cooperative marketing to achieve larger volumes and new market opportunities, plus I know I can reach out to my mentor with specific questions.” We are so grateful for our mentees and mentors who made this such a rich and meaningful experience for all involved. Applications for our Fall 2018 Community Food Systems Mentorship Program close August 15. To take advantage of this opportunity click here: https://foodsystemsleadershipnetwork.goentrepid.com/pages/mentors

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