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Becoming a Mentor

Mentors may wear many hats, depending on the mentee, the position, and the topics to be covered. Mentors are encouraged to consider the following roles:

Listener - Listen to the mentee to genuinely learn new ideas, to understand the mentee's background and experience, and to help the mentee articulate his or her ideas.

Teacher - Respond to questions, providing information that the mentee would take longer to learn alone.

Learning coach - Assist in developing a learning strategy that creates knowledge and success.

Guide - Provide directions and sometimes lead the mentee through the organization system.

Advisor - Offer sage advice (wisdom) on larger and often critical professional matters, such as relating to one's supervisor and developing career goals.

Counselor - Help with issues, such as balancing work and family or dealing with conflict.

Sponsor - Promote the mentee's knowledge and skills to special projects and committees that can use them. Note that this role does not include "pulling strings" or asking favors.

Role model - Demonstrate, through behavior, the values, beliefs, and norms that are effective in the organization.

Motivator - Understand what motivates the mentee and strive to help him or her find that source of motivation within NDSU Extension.

Communicator - Help the mentee understand effective internal and external communication, including the subtleties of when and how messages are best delivered, potential sensitive areas, and communicating in difficult situations.

Mentees do best when they are fully engaged in learning. This requires that they strive to understand the new position and organization and to use the mentor in one or more of the roles mentioned above. The effective mentee recognizes how the mentor can help create personal and professional success.

A mentor is someone who helps others learn something that he or she would not have learned as well, more slowly, or not at all if left alone. A mentor is someone who

…is interested in ‘people development.’
…is willing to listen and guide others.
…communicates well.
…is well versed in their position and able to share their knowledge of the job.
…is looking for new challenges and leadership opportunities within the organization.
…understands the value of developing a strong network of employees within the organization.
…values diversity, accepts others as they are and welcomes new ideas.

Expectations of Mentors

  • Complete the mentor training
  • One-year commitment
  • Use and follow guidelines of the Mentor Checklist
  • Weekly contacts for the first two months, monthly after
  • Personal visit within first 2 months and at the 6 month point
  • Invite mentee to attend professional meetings both within and outside of Extension, car pooling and introducing mentee to others whenever possible so proper introductions can be made

Recommended Qualifications to apply:

  • Five years experience with Extension
  • Desire to build leadership skills
  • Interest in supporting needs of new staff and ‘giving back’ to organization


  • Mentors who successfully complete obligations receive a stipend of $1,000.
  • Payments of $500 will be made at the 6-month and 1-year point upon completion of progress report.
  • Submit original form to your district director at their respective office and a copy to the Cindy Klapperich, staff development coordinator, 355 Main St., Suite 5, Foreman, ND 58032

Selection of mentors will be made with input from:

  • District Directors and Staff Development Coordinator.
  • FNP and EFNEP will be selected with input from Program Coordinator.
  • District Directors will approach potential mentors first, before announcing to mentee. If timing is poor or other considerations need to be made, mentor may discuss opportunity and decline if appropriate.

Application Process

  • Application can be made at any time during the year. Applications will remain on file for consideration at any time following submission.

Application Form

Mentor Do's and Don'ts

The following are some things that mentors should DO in the mentoring relationship:


  • Review your Mentee's Biographical Sketch to learn more about his/her interests and background.
  • Send your Biographical Sketch to your mentee so that he/she can learn more about your interests and background.
  • Take responsibility to initiate the relationship.
  • Foster creativity and independence.
  • Set aside time for the mentoring process and keep all appointments.
  • Display professional behavior and dress.
  • Schedule meetings with planned topics.
  • Be positive, enthusiastic and supportive.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Establish open and honest communication and a forum for idea exchange.
  • Maintain confidentiality. If something concerning the mentor or mentee needs to be discussed with others, it should first be discussed within the mentoring relationship.
  • Be flexible on meeting times and places.
  • Offer to share resources, expertise and experiences.
  • Provide opportunities for the mentee to talk about concerns and ask questions.
  • Invite the mentee to meetings or activities, as appropriate.
  • Arrange further frequent contacts through telephone, email, fax, face-to-face, etc., as appropriate.


The following are some things mentors should NOT DO in the mentoring relationship:


  • Criticize.
  • Try to solve the mentee's problems.
  • Try to give advice on everything.
  • Encourage mentee to be totally dependent upon you.
  • Complain about your own problems.
  • Be too busy when the mentee needs your friendship or your support.
  • Take responsibility for the mentee's programs or duties.


 *Adapted from Oregon State University Extension Service Mentor Handbook, March 2004

Filed under: County, Mentoring, Mentor, Area
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