Nick Grayson, the Chair of Future Farmers of Yorkshire, explains the importance of mentorship in this blog post.
Are you feeling like you’re at a crossroad in your farming career, or finding yourself overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project you’ve taken on? Then, the Future Farmers of Yorkshire may have the answer.
Having been thrown in at the deep end with the sudden death of my father when I was aged 23, I was very fortunate to receive mentorship both formally and informally in the years that followed. My most recent being with a very successful, well-known figure in the agricultural industry.
I owe a great deal to this mentor for the success of installing an on-farm butchery and beginning to direct sell from the farm gate. My mentor visited my farm, I visited his farm and we discussed many topics in person and over the phone. At a time in my life where I lacked direction, my mentor provided me with structure and motivation to follow through with my new farm diversification idea.
This is the reason why I have been so keen to develop a mentorship scheme within the Future Farmers of Yorkshire since my appointment as Chairman, and it was officially launched during our breakfast meeting at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show.
Uncontrollable circumstances, difficult decisions and financial risk are just the nature of the agricultural industry and combined with the emotional attachments of running a family business, it can leave you not knowing where to turn. This could be anything from succession issues, contract and share farming agreements, farm diversification, change of farming practice or new entrants looking to get onto the farming ladder. These are just some of the many scenarios in which a mentor could help.
There is often a misconception surrounding mentors in that they are there to provide you with all of the right answers. This is unfortunately not the case however. A mentor is not equipped with a crystal ball or a book of correct answers. However, they will make you question yourself, share their ideas and experiences, put you in contact with others that have done things in different ways and encourage you to think outside of the box. We often talk about encouraging farmers to talk more here at Future Farmers, and having a mentor is another way to share the load with an unbiased, more experienced individual.
For this to work, we need great mentors, too. This is a hugely satisfying role, helping others to meet their business aspirations and providing a safe space to talk through ideas. Being a mentor is an opportunity to develop your communication skills; to listen, learn and expand your viewpoints which in turn may help you find new ways to approach new situations and deal with challenges. Mentors often have experience of the same issues as the person they are helping but are often a bit further ahead in solving them. Having said that, the learning takes place in both directions.
So, if you would like to get involved in our new mentorship scheme – whether you feel like you would benefit from a mentor or if you believe you could be a good mentor to Yorkshire’s Future Farmers – please do not hesitate to send us an email expressing your interest to email@example.com
The Future Farmers of Yorkshire brings together forward-thinking farmers, vets and industry professionals. It is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.