My journey through the AWN Mentorship Program

I have always had a passion for the agricultural industry. I grew up with my family on a small beef farm, and intended to graduate from the University of Guelph and enter a career in animal science.

But, 18 months into this plan, a new door opened for me – the opportunity to work in crops for the summer. I had never really considered crops as a path in life. If my involvement with 4-H taught me anything, however, it was “Learn to Do by Doing.” So, I jumped into the opportunity.

WOW – am I ever glad I did.

I found a passion I did not know existed and an interest I would maybe never have acknowledged without this opportunity. It really opened new doors for me, turned ignorance into interest and introduced me to some of the people I now respect most in my life.

So, when I read about the Ag Women’s Network (AWN) Mentorship Program, I wondered whether I should apply as a mentee. I already have mentors in my life who I respect and value immensely. But I thought back to this key turning point in my career as a University of Guelph student and remembered that you never really know what opportunity might be behind a closed door until you open it.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a mentor as “a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school.” While this definition is true, a mentor can also help or advise a person in all aspects of life, not just professionally. I applied to the AWN Mentorship Program in hopes that I could grow, learn and challenge my personal development with help of a mentor.

Going into the program, I didn’t know what to expect, who I would be connected with or what I could accomplish. I knew I wanted to develop personal goals, but was unsure whether the program would help with that path. I feared the unknown.

As it turns out, the mentorship program organizers connected me with a mentor who is like-minded and has very similar career interests as me. Not only were my mentor and I compatible in our professional lives, he helped me develop, magnify and begin working on my personal goals while assisting me in navigating through unexpected challenges in our journey.

I’m thankful I was selected to participate in the AWN Mentorship Program. This experience helped me grow, learn and challenge my personal development. I hope the program can do the same for others.

In my opinion, Alexandra K. Trenfor defines a mentor the best:

“The best teachers are those who tell you where to look – but don’t tell you what to see.”

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