Good result for IoH mentoring scheme

Institute of Horticulture conference and annual meeting focuses on early-career success with pilot mentoring programme.

Participants in a pilot mentoring scheme launched to help those starting out on their careers - and those moving to new sectors within horticulture - were recognised at the Institute of Horticulture's (IoH) conference and annual meeting this week.

As well as meeting the needs of professionals at key points throughout their careers, the institute said it hoped that the programme would boost recruitment and retention.

The scheme was funded by English Heritage and Finnis Scott Foundation. IoH president Sue Minter told the conference, held at the Chelsea Physic Garden in south-west London, that the institute would seek future funding for the programme.

Of 40 people recruited, 33 made it through the programme to completion, taking part in face-to-face meetings, telephone discussions or email exchanges.

In addition, two one-day networking events took place at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as well as Cambridge's Newham College and Madingley Hall.

Key benefits highlighted by participants included the provision of a sounding board, role models and examples of good practice, enhanced career planning and help with role transition.

Others cited assistance with problem solving and help in coping with difficult work situations.

In a report presented to the IoH annual meeting, scheme co-ordinator Beryl Little said any future programme could consider using peer mentors and e-mentoring.

Pilot mentoring scheme: what mentees throught

Elspeth Pound, garden designer and gardener

"The scheme has enabled me to take a step back to see where I want to take things in the future. I'm much clearer now about wanting to develop the design side of the business."

Faye Steer, assistant head gardener, Madingley Hall, University of Cambridge

"It's been great having a mentor. He has helped me think about what further training might be most appropriate for me."

Rob Walker, horticulturist, private estate

"I was unsure of the next step to take. The scheme has helped me to build up relationships with other professionals and get ideas for my future career path."

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