Do as I Say AND as I Do: Role Modeling for Extension Mentors

Starting Out 

Mentors are seasoned professionals in their field and have a unique opportunity to serve as role models for new employees. By sharing your expertise, experiences, and guidance, you can shape the next generation of professionals and contribute to the growth and success of the organization. Let’s explore ways to inspire and role model for mentees: 

1. Lead by Example:

Extension mentors need to lead by example and display the appropriate characteristics, attributes, and ethics to their mentees. Demonstrate professionalism, dedication, and a genuine passion for your work, and show new agents what it means to be committed to the mission of Extension. By consistently delivering high-quality work, maintaining a positive attitude, and being open to learning and growth, you set a standard of excellence and expectation that can inspire others. Consider inviting your mentee to a workshop or program you are leading so they can see first-hand how you perform your job duties. 

2. Share Your Knowledge and Experience:

New Extension agents often face a challenging learning curve during their early career phase. As a role model, you can help bridge that gap by sharing your knowledge and experience. Be willing to answer questions, provide guidance, and offer insights gained from your own professional journey. Consider providing real-life anecdotes of experiences you have worked through. By being approachable and supportive, you can help new agents navigate their roles more effectively. New agents may look back on your advice to work through challenges throughout their careers. 

3. Foster Collaboration and Networking:

Encourage new Extension agents to connect with other professionals in the field to build a strong network of colleagues and mentors, such as other agents and state specialists you have worked with. Share information about relevant conferences, workshops, and professional organizations, and encourage your mentee to collaborate with others on fact sheets, conference abstract proposals, and programs. By fostering collaboration and networking, you are empowering new agents to tap into the wealth of collective and institutional knowledge and resources within the organization. 

4. Embrace Lifelong Learning:

The field of Extension is forever growing and changing, it is essential for new agents to embrace a growth mindset to adapt as changes arise. As a role model, emphasize the importance of staying updated on emerging trends, research findings, and best practices. Share resources, recommend EDIS publications or journal articles, and encourage participation in in-service trainings or professional webinars. By modeling a commitment to lifelong learning, you inspire new agents to invest in their professional development and strive for excellence. 

Mentor Challenge:  

Becoming a role model for new extension agents is a rewarding responsibility that shapes the future of the profession. You can inspire and empower new agents to reach their full potential by leading by example, sharing knowledge and experiences, fostering collaboration, embracing lifelong learning, cultivating a positive environment, and encouraging innovation. How will you act as a role model for your mentee this week?

The mission of the Program Development and Evaluation Center (PDEC) is to add value to UF/IFAS Extension through improved program development and evaluation processes and the enhancement of professional competencies based on the science of Extension. 


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Posted: July 31, 2023

Category: Professional Development
Tags: Mentorship, PDEC

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