Conservation Professional Mentorship Program
WeConservePA coordinates the Conservation Professionals Mentorship Program. This program aims to connect seasoned professionals in Pennsylvania’s conservation movement with younger or less experienced professionals in mentor-mentee relationships.
Mentees receive guidance and support as they develop professional skills, set goals, and navigate career choices. Mentors hone their leadership and communication skills, and benefit from exposure to fresh perspectives and new ideas.
The partnerships facilitate the sharing of knowledge and formation of productive relationships throughout the Pennsylvania conservation landscape, ultimately helping cultivate and empower a new generation of conservationists.
Join the Program
Structure & Guidelines
These are suggestions designed to provide a template to help participants establish productive, mutually-beneficial mentoring partnerships. They are based on research of successful mentorship programs in various settings across the country.
However, they are not mandatory. Mentors and mentees should work together to craft a partnership that is geared towards their unique goals, skills, preferences, schedules, and geographic locations. Flexibility is a central component of this program. The primary role WeConservePA plays is matching mentors with mentees. After they are matched, it’s up to them to make the mentorship into whatever they want it to be.
- Pairs should schedule hour-long discussions 1-2 times per month (or as needed).
- Pairs should attempt to meet in-person at least once during the mentorship, and more often if possible.
- When pairs cannot meet in person, discussion via phone call or video chat is ideal.
- After being matched, the mentee should contact the mentor to schedule the first discussion.
- Approach the mentorship with an open mind and willingness to invest in yourself and your partner.
- Before the first discussion, exchange contact information and other helpful resources such as resumes.
- Attend training session (if offered) and come to the mentorship prepared, knowing what you would like to give and receive in the partnership.
- Use the first discussion to review and complete the Mentorship Agreement. Get to know one other, decide on communication logistics, and develop a set of goals for the mentorship. Determine how progress towards these goals will be measured.
- Respect your partner’s time: keep scheduled commitments, return phone calls and emails, and be thorough but succinct during discussions.
- In the case of conflict or disagreement, address the issue directly with your partner. If the issue cannot be resolved internally, contact the Program Coordinator to seek a different partner.
- At the end of the first year, evaluate the partnership. If it is productive, healthy, and enjoyable, consider continuing the mentorship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Interested in becoming a mentor or mentee? This should help answer questions you might have about the program.
Q: What exactly is a mentorship?
A: Mentorships can take many forms depending on the context, goals, and participants. But in general, mentorships are partnerships between experienced professionals and lesser-experienced professionals within the same organization or professional field. The mentor provides guidance, shares knowledge, and serves as a non-supervisory leadership figure for the mentee. The mentee uses the partnership to enhance professional skills and navigate career-related issues, while the mentor hones their communication skills and develops a future leader. Partnerships are supportive and confidential.
Q: Why is this mentorship program needed?
A: There is a network of great organizations and talented professionals across Pennsylvania committed to conservation, but currently few (if any) programs that use this wealth of knowledge and experience to develop new leaders in the conservation movement. This mentorship program is designed to fill some of those gaps.
Q: How much time will I have to commit?
A: We suggest that pairs have 1-2 discussions per month; however, they can talk more or less frequently, depending on the schedule they determine works best for their needs. Discussions can happen in-person, over the phone, or via video chat. Some mentorships might last a few months; others could continue for a year or more.
Q: What if I don’t live near my mentor/mentee?
A: Since the program will have participants from across the Pennsylvania conservation network, it is possible that you will be paired with someone from another region. Communication through phone, video chat, and email will suffice in these circumstance, though it is recommended that pairs meet at least once in-person during the mentorship.
Q: Who is in charge of the program?
A: WeConservePA created the program. Carol Grayshaw, WeConservePA’s Director of Education, serves as the program coordinator. Contact her at [email protected] or 717-219-4074.
Q: Who can be a mentor/mentee?
A: The only requirement to be a mentor is at least five years of experience as a conservation professional. This experience can be in any capacity, whether in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. While previous mentoring experience is certainly a plus, it is by no means required. The program welcomes anyone who would like to share their knowledge and offer guidance.
The only requirement to be a mentee is a willingness to learn and grow as a conservation professional. There is no age limit. Those who qualify as mentors are more than welcome to also participate as mentees.
Q: Can I be both a mentor and mentee?
A: Yes! We encourage anyone interested in serving in both capacities to do so. However, please make sure that you can commit to the necessary time commitments.
Q: What are the goals of the program?
A: WeConservePA launched the program to provide more professional development opportunities for conservation professionals in Pennsylvania. The goal is to empower the next generation of conservation leaders, while fostering greater communication and knowledge-sharing within the conservation community.
Q: How are mentors and mentees matched?
A: WeConservePA will match mentors with mentees based on profile questionnaires that include information about goals, skills, geographic location, personality, and other factors. Ideally, mentees will be able to choose their mentor from a list of multiple candidates (depending on how many participants there are).
Q: What happens if problems arise during the mentorship?
A: Hopefully, the mentorship will be free of conflict. The profile questionnaires are designed to inform the matching so that pairs are compatible. However, if there are issues, contact the Program Coordinator for guidance. In the case that pairs are unable to resolve a problem, they can end the partnership and seek new partners.
Q: Will all the professional and personal information I share with my partner be kept confidential?
A: Yes. A confidentiality clause is included in the Mentorship Agreement that all participants will sign at the beginning of the program.
Q: Do mentorship programs work?
A: Mentorship programs are popular in workplaces, universities, and communities across the country. Surveys have shown that participants report greater job satisfaction and commitment to their organization than their peers who do not participate. A majority of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Intel, GE, and Time Warner Cable, use mentorship programs to facilitate learning and leadership development.
There is a network of great organizations and talented professionals across Pennsylvania committed to conservation, but currently few (if any) programs that use this wealth of knowledge and experience to develop new leaders in the conservation movement. This mentorship program is designed to fill some of those gaps.
Q: Will being a mentee give me an inside track to future job opportunities?
A: Don’t count on it. The purpose of mentorships should not be misconstrued. A mentorship offers the chance to learn, enhance professional skills, and develop career goals. It is not a tryout for future employment.
Q: Does it cost anything?
A: Nope. The mentorship program is completely free to join.
Q: How do I join the program?
A: Complete the Profile Questionnaire found on the Mentorship Program page at Conserveland.org and follow the submission instructions. We’ll be in touch to connect you with a partner and provide guidance for how to begin the partnership.
Q: Where can I find more information?
A: The Mentorship Program page on weconservepa.org contains all relevant information and documents, and will be a home for resources and guidance throughout the program. Additional Questions? Feel free to contact Director of Education Carol Grayshaw ([email protected] or 717-219-4074).
Become a Mentee
A mentorship offers the mentee an outstanding opportunity to learn from someone who has years of experience in the conservation movement and is willing to share their knowledge in a supportive, confidential environment. Mentors give advice, answer questions, help mentees navigate career-related issues, and may suggest networking or professional development opportunities. They offer constructive feedback and thoughtful guidance. Mentees should be active listeners in order to learn and grow during the mentorship; however, they should also be prepared to develop personal goals and chart the course of the partnership.
- Desire to further professional development within the conservation field.
- No age or experience requirements—anyone (including those qualified as mentors) can be a mentee.
- Receive advice and guidance with an open mind.
- Exhibit professionalism, motivation, and reliability.
- Take the initiative in establishing personal goals and a direction for the mentorship.
- Inform mentor about preferred learning and communication style.
- Make time for consistent contact with mentor through in-person meetings, phone calls, or email.
- Uphold confidentiality agreement.
Become a Mentor
The knowledge, advice, and resources a mentor shares depend on the format and goals of a specific mentoring partnership. A mentor may share with a mentee information about their own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, or role modeling. A mentor may help a mentee set goals, explore careers, or develop contacts. As a non-supervisory figure from another organization, a mentor can serve as a sounding board for workplace concerns and questions. The mentor’s role may evolve as the needs of the mentee change and the partnership develops.
- At least five years of professional experience in conservation, whether in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.
- Willingness to share knowledge with someone new to the conservation community.
- Provide advice and guidance in a constructive manner.
- Exhibit professionalism, motivation, and reliability.
- Offer support and encouragement to the mentee.
- Be flexible in adapting to mentee’s specific goals for the partnership.
- Enter discussions with an open mind.
- Make time for consistent contact with mentee through in-person meetings, phone, or email.
- Uphold confidentiality agreement.