Starting a farm can be extremely challenging without advice and assistance from an experienced farmer. GreenStone’s Farm Forward Mentorship (FFM) helps the next generation learn from the knowledge and skill of others. Through this program, young, beginning and small farmers partner with practiced mentors creating an opportunity to obtain hands-on knowledge.
Mentee and graduate of MSU’s Institute of Agricultural Technology certificate program, Tucker Mays had a positive involvement in FFM, ultimately improving not only his farm, but his confidence as a fifth-generation farmer. When asked the following questions regarding his participation in Farm Forward Mentorship, Tucker was more than happy to share his experience.
Did you have a close relationship with your mentor?
“My mentor Ken Judkins and I hit it off pretty quickly. We had a common goal to learn as much as we could in a year about each other’s operations. We both wanted to know what we could improve upon…Ken and I will be in communication long beyond the Farm Forward Mentorship program.”
Tucker states that he often met Ken in Ann Arbor, quickly getting to know both Ken and Ken’s brother, Bruce. Tucker owns 60 acres and plants corn, wheat and soybeans, and regularly asks Ken and Bruce their opinion on a wide range of questions.
What did you learn from this program?
“I learned that in my farming practices, I am often missing a small, but crucial step. I start talking to my team of mentors and quickly realize what the solution is.”
In addition to gaining a large amount of knowledge and advice regarding the direction of his farm, Tucker’s confidence has increased immensely. He is more self-assured in growing and changing his operation, and accelerating his farming career.
What advice would you give to someone who is debating on joining Farm Forward Mentorship?
“If someone is on the fence concerning joining this program, it is a poor debate. If a person is open-minded, there is a lot of opportunity for that individual in this program. I hope more practiced and inexperienced farmers capitalize on it.”
Tucker believes that any individual with a career in farming can offer advice to another and emphasizes that differing perspectives can be very beneficial.
Are you interested in participating again?
“Yes! I have gained so much just by being in this industry, and I have found that a lot of growers are very interested in helping young farmers. To me, advice from mentors has so much value; it has been great to be part of a team with Ken and Bruce.”
Want to learn more about the program?
If you are interested in gaining knowledge alongside a seasoned expert or looking for ways to pass your decades of wisdom and experience to a young, beginning or small farmer, look no further than GreenStone's Farm Forward Mentorship program. This 18-month program provides both mentors and mentees the opportunity to network, learn from one another and strengthen their farm knowledge through the sharing of experiences. Contact a local GreenStone office or your financial services officer to learn how you can sign up for our next program.
Resource: The GreenStone Story: Growing Farmers