Choosing a career path can be a daunting decision for young people. Fortunately, North Dakota youth interested in the livestock industry don’t have to travel the path alone.
Since 1998, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) has offered a Mentoring Program in which high school and college students are paired with industry professionals to learn the inside track of different beef industry careers and to develop the skills necessary to be successful in them.
The NDSA welcomed nine teams to the 2012 Mentoring Program Class at a kickoff workshop at Farm Credit Services in Mandan, N.D., on Feb. 23. There, protégés and mentors got to know one another and establish goals for their seven-month job exploration experiences.
David Dockter of Mandan, N.D., who has mentored students multiple times and is part of the program again this year, said he enjoys working with young people and having a chance to teach. “These young people are our future,” Dockter said.
Dockter’s protégé, Klay Oland of Sheldon, N.D., will be learning about artificial insemination and looks forward to accompanying Dockter on some heifer breeding projects this spring.
North Dakota State University Extension Community Economic Development Specialist Kathy Tweeten facilitated the Feb. 23 workshop, teaching the teams about the roles of protégés and mentors and the importance of establishing set objectives, communicating clearly and recognizing generational communication differences. Tweeten emphasized that miscommunication is often a major problem in the workplace, and advised teams to consider the terminology they use and the experiences their partners have had to better understand their perspectives and to communicate more clearly.
Julie Ellingson, NDSA executive vice president, told the teams that this is an exciting time to be involved in the beef industry. “With strong markets, growing demand both here and abroad, and an anticipated 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050, there has never been a better time to be involved in agriculture,” she said. “I encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity to not only explore an occupation, but to forge new friendships and expand your network of folks who will answer your questions and support you as you continue your education and pursue your career.”
Over the course of the mentoring period, teams will meet at least four times. Protégés will also keep journals of their meetings and develop vocabulary lists of terms specific to the career area they are studying.
All the mentoring pairs will meet a final time for a wrap-up session and graduation ceremony during the NDSA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Fargo, N.D., in September.
Following are the members of the 2012 Mentoring Program Class and the career area they are studying:
Mentor: David Dockter, Mandan, N.D.
Protégé: Klay Oland, Sheldon, N.D.
Mentor: Angela Walford, NDSA, Bismarck, N.D.
Protégé: Caroline Jacobson, Bismarck, N.D.
Mentors: Richard and Jamie Fast, Fast Angus, New Salem, N.D.
Protégé: Audree Gifford, Mandan, N.D.
Mentor: Jackie Buckley, Morton County Extension Service, Mandan, N.D.
Protégé: Macey Isaacs, St. Anthony, N.D.
Mentor: Brian Zimprich, Ransom County Extension Service, Lisbon, N.D.
Protégé: Ann Ruff, Kathryn, N.D.
Mentors: Matt and Emily Kline, Kline Feedlot, Hurdsfield, N.D.
Protégé: Taylor Gahner, McClusky, N.D.
Veterinary Clinic Administration/Animal Care
Mentor: Loah Clement, Mandan Veterinary Clinic, Mandan, N.D.
Protégé: Sarah Schneider, Bismarck, N.D.
Mentor: Dr. Jacob Carlson, Missouri Valley Veterinary Clinic, Bismarck, N.D.
Protégés: McKayla Small, Bismarck, N.D., and Kayla Schmitz, Menoken, N.D.
The NDSA Mentoring Program is sponsored in part by Farm Credit Services of Mandan and the NDSU Extension Service.
Applications for the 2013 Mentoring Program are due Nov. 1. For more information, contact Ellingson at (701) 223-2522.
Source: North Dakota Stockmen’s Association