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Staff Mentorship at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR)

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UC ANR is unique in the UC system. Its advisors and staff work in 57 out of 58 counties in the state, supporting Californians with university-based research in the areas of healthy families and communities; sustainable food systems; sustainable natural ecosystems; water, including quality, quantity and security; and pests — endemic and invasive pests and diseases. Administrative staff support business operations, development services, resource planning and management and more.

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Although there was a longstanding desire to create a staff mentorship program, ANR leadership realized that their organizational complexity would require a unique and focuses approach. They deemed creating a mentorship program a priority people goal in the 2016-2020 strategic plan, and after several years in the making, the first Mentor Orientation took place in December 2018.

“To develop the ANR Staff Mentorship Program, we adapted from UCOP, UC Davis and external organization mentorship program models,” explained Learning and Development Coordinator Jodi Azulai. These efforts led to a nine-month program, which consisted of three in-person workshops and monthly meetings between mentors and mentees — most of which took place via phone- or video-conferencing due to the geographic spread of their work locations.

July 23, 2019 marked the end of the successful pilot year. Since participating in the program, two participants have moved to advanced job classifications. A majority of mentors reported that their mentorship experience helped them to learn about themselves and would benefit their careers. 

“The mentorship program granted me the privilege and honor of having an exceptional mentor — a leader, role model and friend who helped me gain the confidence and guidance I needed to grow within UC ANR and beyond,” shared one participant.

“We each have so much to offer one another, whether we serve as a mentor or mentee. The hard part is finding the time to listen,” said another mentee. “When someone makes time to feel, understand and relate to another person, we all grow. It has a ripple effect.” 

Among the programs encouraging outcomes are the following:

  • 100% of program participants found that the program benefits mentees
  • 94% of participants found that one-on-one meetings were meaningful and that participating in the program enhanced their self-awareness
  • 89% observed professional growth as a result of their participation
  • 88% found that participating in the program grew their interpersonal communication, leadership, technical and other skills
  • 84% have identified actions to enhance their development as a result of participating

 “We understood the benefits of mentoring relationships before our program began, but we now have photos, data and personal feedback from attendees that reflects the significance for continuing this program,” Azulai said.

She and her team plan to send a six-month follow-up survey to 2019 participants in January to learn how mentees have come to regard their personal and career development and outlook since participating in the program. The second Staff Mentorship Program cohort will begin in January 2020.

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