The Benefits of the NCFR Mentoring Academy

Amber Allen, M.A., Human Development & Family Science Field Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, and Mara Briere, M.A., CFLE, Founder, Grow a Strong Family, Inc.
/ NCFR Report, Spring 2022

The NCFR Mentoring Academy began as a two-year pilot program in 2019, with one mentoring term per year. A mentoring term starts at that year’s NCFR Annual Conference and ends at the following NCFR Annual Conference.

Applications for the next class of mentees and mentors are due May 16, 2022. Any NCFR member is eligible to apply. Learn more and apply.

Amber Allen, M.A. (mentee), and Mara Briere, M.A., CFLE (mentor), are a pair from the 2020-2021 class of the Mentoring Academy and were asked to share some of their experiences here in NCFR Report.

What is one thing from the mentoring program that has made a positive impact on your work or career?

Amber Allen
Amber Allen, M.A.

Amber Allen (Mentee): If I could pick two words to summarize the positive impact that the Mentorship Academy has done for me as a mentee, they would be growing and sowing. This program grew my confidence to take a risk and complete a project that had been left in the idea phase. By completing this project, it has led to additional speaking opportunities. The other word that comes to mind with the program is sowing. My mentor helped sow my project by providing invaluable feedback. The relationship that was sewn between my mentor and I allowed me to grow both personal and professionally.

Mara Briere
Mara Briere, M.A., CFLE

Mara Briere (Mentor): My two words that best summarize the positive impact that the Mentorship Academy has done for me as a mentor are sharing and growing. The mentorship relationship is a reciprocal one in which the teacher becomes the student, and the student becomes the teacher. Listening to the excitement in what my mentee was interested in buoyed my understanding of my work in a whole new way. Doors opened that I had not even been aware of and has increased my effectiveness as a professional. Together we created a new way of understanding and working with family systems. The relationship between my mentee and I is a mutually beneficial one in both personal and professional ways.

What is one thing from this experience that has surprised you?

Allen: One thing that surprised me about this experience was the rejuvenation our monthly mentoring meetings gave me. In a time of social isolation being able to be innovative and creative with someone from another state helped me build confidence as a provider in the Family Science discipline.

Briere: One thing that surprised me through this experience is how much I looked forward to the meetings with my mentee. The exchange of ideas was quick, and we were able to discuss them easily. Her willingness to implement, to experiment, and share the process with me inspired me to apply myself more completely in my own innovative work. I had not expected this. It was one of the best gifts of the relationship.

What would you tell someone thinking about being a mentor or mentee in this program?

Allen: I would tell someone thinking about becoming a mentee to come in with an idea of what you want to do but be willing to change your goals once you talk with your mentor. The best part of the mentor/mentee relationship is the unexpected conversations which can lead your goals and ideas in a completely different direction.

Briere: I would tell a prospective mentor to keep an open mind, be willing to be willing, and really listen to what the mentee wants to do. What skills do you have that apply to the goals that the mentee has? How helpful is your communication style? How does your experience match up with the mentee’s? How much time do you have to guide? What level of accountability is important to you? How well do you manage your time so that you can add this role to your other commitments?

Mentoring is one of the most satisfying experiences I have had. I believe that it is incumbent on those of us who have experience and knowledge to share to engage with up-and-coming professionals to strengthen the profession. Sharing your expertise as a Family Life Educator grows exponentially through this experience.

Applications for the next class of mentees and mentors are due May 16, 2022. Any NCFR member is eligible to apply. Learn more and apply.