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Frequently Asked Questions About the Virginia Farm Mentor Nework

Who is Eligible?  

  • The Virginia Farm Mentor Network is open to all serious, committed beginning farmers and ranchers who seek informal learning opportunities with an established farmer. 
  • The goal of the Virginia Farm Mentor Network is to assist all beginning farmers and ranchers, although some limitations may occur, for example; required commitment levels, time restraints, and proximity/location to established farmers.   
  • All participants of Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program’s Whole Farm Planning Programs receive priority status if applying as mentees to the Virginia Farm Mentor Network. 
  • Eligibility is determined by the following Farm Mentor Network Application.  Applications must be filled out and submitted to start the enrollment process for the Virginia Farm Mentor Network.

What does the program cost?  

  • Participation in the Virginia Farm Mentor Network is sponsored by the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program and is no cost to the beginning farmer/rancher.  All educational tools and materials will be provided by the program.  Travel costs and other supportive costs will be supported by the beginning farmer/mentee.

How long does the program last?  

  • There is no simple answer.  Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Whole Farm Planning programs vary in timeframe. 
  • Although, your involvement with the Virginia Farm Mentor Network is ongoing and does not expire, your work experience or relationship with a mentor (established farmer) will have a determined timeframe. 

How do I connect with a Mentor?  

  • Once you fill out an application, a Farm Mentor Coordinator will contact you.  Eligibility will be determined based on program fit and availability of mentor farmers.
  • A meeting will be scheduled to discuss the required module, Intro to Whole Farm Planningand your next steps. 

What is the roll of the Mentor?  

  • Each experience is different and defined by the mentor.  The established farmer ultimately sets the schedule and terms of the relationship, dependent on their time availability and farm needs.   
  • Mentors are not “on call” to beginning farmers at all times.  Agriculture is a very challenging career and is also very seasonal.  Most of the mentors are working farmers/ranchers themselves.  Time could be limited during the warmer months.   
  • Mentors are available to answer phone calls, emails, and other requests on their own timeframe.  Mentors are not “Farming 911”. 
  • It is very important that you establish a relationship with the Farm Mentor Coordinator and the established farmer to determine when time is most available. 
  • The Virginia Farm Mentor Network promotes all available work experiences, but paid farm positions are not always available.  It is determined by the established farmer and the individual farm’s employment needs.  
  • Mentors receive a modest stipend from the Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program.

Mentoring Opportunities

If you are interested in participating as a mentor or mentee in the Virginia Farm Mentor Coordinator, please visit our blog, Virginia Beginning Farmer Connections. For more information about our mentoring programming, please contact us at:   vabeginningfarmer@vt.edu.

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If you want to stay informed about our program activities using social media, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to our listserv.  If you have comments or questions, please contact Allyssa Mark by email.

The Virginia Beginning Farmer & Rancher Coalition Program is a state-wide and coalition-based Extension program housed in Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education. Funding was sponsored by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Award #2015-70017-22887. For more information, contact Kim Niewolny, Program Director and Extension Specialist, at niewolny@vt.edu or 540-231-5784.

 

For website updates, such as broken links, please contact Allyssa Mark, Program Associate.