Peer-to-Peer: The Ag Ed & ACM Mentor Program

Peer to PeerLast fall, Brandon Roiger, now an alum, developed The Ag Ed and ACM Peer-to-Peer Mentor Program. Students, Harley Braun, Paige Hildebrandt and Patrick Thofson have taken on the roles of program coordinators this year. Harley, a sophomore in Agricultural Education said, “I participated in the peer mentor program last year as a mentee and greatly appreciated the support, connection, and growth I experienced. I wanted to help carry on this program because I feel it is extremely beneficial for both mentees and mentors.”

Along with Agricultural Education professor, Dr. Amy Smith, the coordinators received applications from interested mentors and mentees. They then matched applicants based on personalities, backgrounds, interests, and future goals. In early October, they held a kick-off event bringing the mentor/mentee pairs together. Throughout the rest of the semester, the three coordinators plan on checking in with each pair to ensure they are meeting and connecting well.

The main purpose of the Peer-to-Peer mentor program is to connect students within the Ag Ed and ACM community, in addition to providing support for incoming students and allowing upperclassmen to share their wisdom and experience. “Incoming freshmen are paired with upperclassmen and provide advice on topics ranging from academics to personal issues,” Harley said. The process is intended to be mutually beneficial, “mentors and mentees learn from each other and grow throughout the program.”

Many participants of last year’s pilot program said they greatly benefitted from the program. Mentees enjoyed having a direct person to ask questions and seek support during those difficult moments and transitions of freshmen year, while mentors enjoyed connecting with new students, being able to offer advice, and having the opportunity to grow their mentorship abilities. Harley noted, “Many of the people who applied to be mentors this year were past participants of the program and said they wanted to participate again because of the benefits the program provided them.”

For many of these pairs, the relationship often extends past the duration of the program. The Ag Ed and ACM community comes together and creates an environment that lets mentees ask for advice and support, while the mentors are able to share their knowledge and experiences at the same time.

Here is a current list of the mentors and mentees:

  • Renae Larson & Katherine Gathje
  • Haely Leiding & Catie Schmidt
  • Kristen Liepold & Yoonjee Sim
  • Ellyn Swanson & Katie Benson
  • Brandon Thurk & Jean Rhinehart
  • Ashley Warren & Victoria Hanson
  • Elizabeth Wilts & Laura Church

If you would like more information on the Peer-to-Peer mentor program, please contact Harley Braun at braun566@umn.edu, Paige Hildebrandt at phildebr@umn.edu, or Patrick Thofson at thofs004@umn.edu for more information. Be on the lookout next semester for the opportunity to apply for next year’s program!