The Successors, Ep 7: Coaching vs. mentoring, comfort in asking questions, and moving forward as a family


The Successors is a RealAgriculture podcast series hosted by Kara Oosterhuis focusing on agriculture from the perspective of the up-and-coming generation.

How can you provide mentorship to those around you? What can you do to get that succession conversation going on the farm? Why do you sometimes need to take a step back and evaluate the situation around you?

Rachael Melenka, client success manager with 20/20 Seed Labs Inc., and farmer at Melenka Farms, helps us tackle all of these questions and more in the latest episode of The Successors podcast.

Melenka, who has a younger brother and sister who are both interested in being a part of the farm as well, says she has been very fortunate as her family begins the succession conversation.

“My parents have been very very open,” she explains. “They have had their own farm succession experience that didn’t quite go exactly how they wanted it to. So from them, learning what their succession and transition story was like, they can kind of take pieces from that. And now they’ve been really awesome to work with and give us advice on some ways that we can move forward as a family.”

Although they currently don’t have a farm succession advisor, it is something the family is considering looking into as they get further into planning.

“It’s definitely a goal that I have in mind. I actually was just a part of a risk management workshop, and one of the risks associated with family relations is the dynamic. Kind of positioning yourself with an outside influence, or advisor, to coach the family along with some of the decisions that they’ll be making, [can help manage risk]. It’s definitely something I want to implement in the future, if we find a need for it,” says Melenka.

Melenka also spends her free time as a mentor for the Olds College mentorship program, where you get matched with a mentee to help guide them to their goals and aspirations.

“It’s very structured. You’re assigned a mentee, we schedule the times we want, to meet the goals we would like to work on. As well, some success indicators and guidelines on how to reach those goals,” she notes. “You want to help your mentee form their own goals and interests. And then from your position in the industry, and your past work and personal life experience, support your mentee along the way into shaping those goals and interests that they have themselves. So that sometimes can look like providing them resources, providing them suggestions for networking opportunities.”

Listen on for a full conversation with Rachael Melenka and host Kara Oosterhuis on early succession planning, the difference between mentoring and coaching, and the importance of good shop talk:

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