The following is an excerpt from a mentoring program proposal which was prepared with the assistance of an International Mentoring Association expert. This excerpted section is presented to illustrate how a mentoring program needs to be structured, described, and “sold” as an initiative that effectively supports the organizations’ mission, and not just as one more “nice” thing to do for employees.
New Hydrologist Mentoring Strategy
USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region
By Rick Hopson, Regional Hydrologist & Mentor Program Designer, Version: July 8, 2010
Page 3 – “Relationship of Mentoring to the Forest Service Mission
‘Caring for the Land and Serving People’
As most Forest Service employees know, “Caring for the Land and Serving People” is our motto. Our mission is to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation?s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations”. This mission is met through our agency’s vision and guiding principles (http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/mission.shtml), and through implementation of the National Strategic Plan and Regional Business Plan.
The Region 4 Hydrology Mentoring Program is an essential component to meeting our agency intentions. Workforce attrition is a serious consideration given many of our hydrologists and other employees have or will soon reach retirement eligibility. In Region 4, 31% of all hydrologists are eligible to retire in the next five years. With each retirement we lose experience and knowledge vital to achieving program objectives.
Using Mentoring to implement our Guiding Principles – some examples:
1. “We use an ecological approach to the multiple-use management of the National Forest and Grasslands”
An ecological approach reflects the fact that all parts of natural ecosystems are interrelated and interdependent. When one part is weakened, it threatens every part of the system. This is not just the case for the natural resources for which the Forest Service is the steward. It is also the case inside our agency. It can be argued that our most valuable resource is the human resources within our organization. The hydrology mentoring program builds this vital resource, ensuring that every person new to the hydrology program has the support they deserve to learn, improve and effectively function within the Forest Service team, such that the “ecology” of the organization is strong, effective and can effectively work to attain the agency mission.
2. “We use the best scientific knowledge in making decisions and select the most appropriate technologies in the management of resources”
Forest Service staff has excellent knowledge across a wide range of our needed disciplines. As
employees retire their knowledge and judgment will leave with them. The agency may struggle to attract, recruit, hire, train and support new employees to help the organization “stay even”, much less effectively address increasingly complex resource management issues. The financial struggles that all land management agencies are experiencing makes “staying even” even more difficult. Mentoring directly combats these factors by pairing our expert senior staff with new hires and other up and coming junior staff so that knowledge transfer is facilitated, professional development is accelerated, skills are increased, and the culture of excellence and service is preserved.”