Mentor training activity workbook to be used alongside the mentor training video series. This workbook contains all the activities that are included in the mentor training series, videos 2 – 6. Use this PDF version for printing.
Transition to Organic Partnership Program
Mentor Training Activity Workbook
This workbook is an optional activity guide to be used alongside the national TOPP mentor
training video series. In the training videos there are activities to complete, and this workbook
contains those activities to follow along with the videos. The activities start with training video 2
of the series, and continue through videos 3, 4, 5, and the last activities come from video 6.
Videos 1 and 7 do not contain any activities. Begin this workbook with video 2.
Mentor Training 2: Mentor Skills and Understanding Roles
Think of a mentor, or similar teaching figure, in your life. Reflect on their character and
qualities. Ask yourself, what did they do that made them an effective mentor and teacher?
What behaviors did they exhibit that made them memorable? How did they talk, listen, and
present themselves? Write down any thoughts and reflections you have to these questions.
Write down your top 3 mentoring goals for what you would like to gain from this
mentorship. For example, are you hoping to broaden your network of organic producers and
create connections? Are you simply just looking to share your knowledge? If so, any specific
knowledge? Would you like to learn something new yourself? Or perhaps you would like to
improve interpersonal or teaching skills.
Write down three goals that you have for yourself in your mentoring role.
What mentoring skills do you already have? Write down the skills that you believe you
already have that will make you an effective mentor. Think about the soft skills that go along
with mentoring and teaching, as well as the hard skills that you have learned through
Step 1: Rate yourself 1 – 5 on each of the skills in each skill category.
Step 2: Add up the points for each section after you have rated each skill and reflect on which
skill areas you are strong in and where there is room for growth.
1 – Undeveloped
2 – Challenging for you
3 – Some ability, needs work 4 – Competent
A. Listening actively (listening first to
understand and then speaking to be
B. Speaking clearly with direction to
C. Asking prompting questions
D. Asking reflection questions
E. Conflict resolution – dealing with
conflict and setbacks
F. Providing constructive feedback
A. Confidence and self-esteem (your
own, as well as maintaining that of
B. Inclusivity (making others feel
included and part of the team)
C. Showing excitement for the future of
D. Maintaining a positive attitude
E. Giving positive feedback
F. Celebrating successes
Communication total rating:
Enthusiasm total rating:
Understanding others’ perspectives
Being present in the moment
Building trust with others
Guiding others to a solution (not
E. Emotional intelligence (ability to
handle interpersonal relationship
judiciously and empathetically)
F. Defining boundaries in relationships
Patience total rating:
5 – Skilled
A. Dependable with commitments
B. Accountable for actions
C. Prepared for meetings or other
D. Communicating changes to
E. Finding solutions
F. Balancing (e.g. work and family)
Commitment total rating:
Stress management – in a healthy way
Resilience – bouncing back from a set-back
Speaking up in times of need
Keeping private information private
Respecting personal boundaries
Respect total rating:
At the end of the Mentoring Skills and Understanding Roles training, revisit your mentor
goals. Look over the goals you wrote at the beginning of this training, would you change any
goals now? Would you like to add any new goals?
Mentor Training 3: Mentor Best Practices
Beginning the Mentorship Worksheet
Complete the following prompts to think through the strategies you will use to begin your
1. Write down two questions you could ask your mentee about each of these topics:
● Understanding their career and/or agricultural journey
Getting to know them as a person
Identifying their strengths and weaknesses
2. Reflect on how you may be able to build rapport and find common ground with
your mentee. Write down a few topic ideas that could help build rapport with your
mentee. (Examples: What is something that you enjoy doing that you could also ask your
mentee about? Have you gone on a trip to a similar place in the past? Do you both root for the
same sports team?)
3. To understand your own mental models and to practice identifying them, ask
yourself and answer at least two of these questions. Choose any two questions you
What led you to decide to mentor? What types of things did you consider when
you made that decision?
What do you find most rewarding about organic production? Why is this so
What do you find most challenging about organic production? Why does this
seem so challenging?
What do you see as the greatest obstacle for making changes in your Organic
System Plan? Why does this seem like a big obstacle?
What is the key factor for your success with selling your product? Why is this the
Think about a new practice on your operation, or a practice you have thought
about starting. What is one thing that would make this new practice work for you?
Mentor Training 4: Mentoring Ethics and the Code of
Why are ethics important to consider for mentoring? Envision a few ethical
concerns that could come up during mentorship and write down a few examples.
Consider why ethics are important for your mentoring role and jot down any initial
thoughts you have on the topic.
Ethical Dilemma Scenarios
For each of the following scenarios, first write down how you would react to the situation with
ethics and the code of conduct in mind, and then what would be your next steps. What
discussion might need to take place? Do you need to bring the situation to your program staff or
You have given advice to your mentee about his weed management plan on his operation’s
transitioning land. It was advice that would change his management practices drastically. Your
mentee tells you that you’re making him feel like a failure, that you are not understanding his
challenges correctly, both the challenges he faces as a manager of an operation and personally.
He tells you that he doesn’t feel like you understand him and his needs at all. How would you
respond to this situation?
Your mentee has shown up late for your last three meetings, seems unprepared for the
meetings, doesn’t know what to talk about, and hasn’t tried out any of the advice you’ve given
for the last few months. How would you approach this situation?
Your mentee expresses to you that she is going through a challenging time with her spouse,
and shares that she can’t focus on talking about farming that day. She begins sharing details of
her marital challenges with you. How would you respond and approach this situation?
Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
Consider how you would approach the following potential conflict of interest scenarios, including
how you could set boundaries around a particular topic with your mentee, and how you would
remain ethical, fair, and unbiased in providing mentorship.
You are matched with a mentee growing the same crop or producing the same livestock as you,
and they have a lot of questions about how to improve quality, increase efficiency, and increase
yield of their product as they transition to organic.
What are potential conflicts of interest with this scenario and what may come up as a challenge
for you in approaching these topics?
You are matched with a mentee who is interested in selling to the same market as you, and is
asking questions about your buyers, your strategies, your transportation, and your business
What are potential conflicts of interest with this scenario and what information would you be
willing to share and what might you want to keep private?
Mentor Training 5: Mentoring with Cultural Competence
What does cultural competence mean to you? Think about and jot down initial ideas of what
cultural competence means to you. What do you think of when you hear the term cultural
Create Your Own Cultural Iceberg
Use the blank iceberg template provided to put down specific examples of your visible culture in
the top 10% of the iceberg and examples of your deep/internal or nonvisible culture in the lower
90%. Think about specific examples of what in your culture and your life would go into this
Reflect on where you are in the cultural competence continuum and write down 3 action
items you can do to begin or further yourself along the cultural competence journey.
Perhaps it is simply gaining awareness of your own culture, that is a great place to start, or
perhaps you have the opportunity to gain knowledge about another culture, or learn new skills
for practicing cultural sensitivity. Whatever it might be for you, think about some real action
items you could complete for yourself that would also benefit your role as a mentor.
Mentor Training 6: The National Organic Program, Organic
Regulations, and the Transition Process
What is your definition of organic? Write down your definition of organic and think about,
what does organic mean to you?
Explore the Organic Materials Lists. Using the material lists below, pick out three substances
that are allowed in organic production, these could be materials you already use on your
operation, and find three substances that are prohibited.
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)
Three materials that are allowed:
Three materials that are prohibited:
Identify your areas of expertise. Write down your top three areas of expertise that you will be
able to share with your mentee to help them adopt organic management. Perhaps you are a pro
at the certification process, or maybe you are a rockstar with recordkeeping, or maybe a specific
organic production practice is your area of specialty. Whatever it may be, think about and write
down your top three areas of expertise.
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