Mentorship Program

Mentee applications now open! Apply here!

Growing Together Mentorship Program

The goal of Growing Together is to connect experienced and beginning farmers and ranchers (typically defined as those with less than ten years of farming experience) to provide peer-to-peer mentoring which will result in improved knowledge of agricultural production, sales, and farm viability. The program is designed to be flexible in order to meet the needs of both the mentors and mentees.

How it Works

There is no formal curriculum, rather this program builds upon the strengths of the mentors and the educational needs of the mentees to determine relevant topics for improvement.

Choose your Topic

Mentees can choose from a variety of agriculture-related topics (cover crops, livestock, production planning, agritourism, etc.) and are paired with a mentor who has a similar operation type (i.e. livestock, diversified vegetable) and proven proficiency in the topic of interest. The dynamic nature of this program is intentional.  We understand that the needs for both parties will be different and we leave it in the hands of the participants to determine what works best for them.

Meeting Times

Mentors and mentees will determine how often they plan to meet (weekly, monthly, quarterly), how long they plan to meet, and how they plan to meet (i.e. virtually, by phone, in person).  This program operates seasonally from November to October. Our goal is that mentee applicants can prepare for the upcoming season, build relationships and establish strong foundations, and learn more about what they need by applying in the fall/winter; however, applications are open year-round.

Cost & Compensation

The program will compensate mentors at a rate of $40 per hour.  Mentees are able to use this service for free as long as they are a current partner of HDFFA

Mentor – “the teacher”: the Mentor is a trusted expert in farming and/or ranching and will serve to help develop the Mentee’s skillsets in agriculture

Mentee – “the learner”: the Mentee is someone who is looking to develop their agricultural understanding and skillsets through the guidance of a more experienced farmer or rancher, the Mentor

Sungrounded Farm - Photo by Amanda Photographic

Contact Info:

Andrea Smith
Agricultural Support Manager

Meet the Mentors

  • Katia Steckly
    Katia Steckly

    Ranch Name: Double F Ranch

    Experience: 14 years

    Grows/Raises: Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Chickens (meat and eggs), Grains, Hay and forage

    Areas of expertise:
    Business planning,
    Business vision and goal setting,
    CSA management,
    Dealing with overwhelm,
    Direct marketing,
    Financial management,
    Getting to profit,
    Meat processing,
    Peer accountability and document review,
    Preventing burnout,
    Relationship-based marketing,
    Simplified marketing strategies,
    Time management,
    Work/life balance

  • David Kellner-Rode
    David Kellner-Rode

    Farm Name: Boundless Farmstead

    Experience: 6 years

    Grows/Raises: Vegetables, Fruit, Chickens (meat and eggs), Bees, Hay and Forage

    Areas of expertise:
    Business planning,
    Climate-smart agriculture,
    Cover crop,
    Crop planning and rotation,
    Greenhouse production,
    CSA management,
    Direct marketing,
    Harvest and handling,
    Machinery and equipment,
    Season extension,

  • Scott Maricle
    Scott Maricle

    Farm Name: Well Rooted Farms

    Experience: 9 years

    Grows/Raises: Vegetables, Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Chickens (eggs), Hay and forage

    Areas of expertise:
    Cover crop,
    Crop planning and rotation,
    Financial management,
    Labor management,
    Legal issues,
    Machinery and equipment,
    Pasture management,
    Season extension,
    Seed saving,
    Soil health,
    Rotational grazing,
    Waste management,

Mentee Eligibility

  • Mentee must be a farmer or rancher with an agricultural operation in Central Oregon (Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) OR an employee of a farm or ranch located within Central Oregon.
  • Mentee’s farm/ranch must be operational in 2023. For farmers/ranchers getting started this year, land must be secured for the 2023 season, and the mentee must be actively preparing to start growing or raising crops for the 2023 season.
  • Mentee’s farm/ranch must be a current partner with the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance.
  • Mentees must have fewer than 10 years of experience owning and operating their own farm/ranch (past farmhand or apprenticeship experience does not count).

HDFFA aims to be flexible, so if you do not meet one of the eligibility requirements above, please reach out to HDFFA’s Agricultural Support Manager at to discuss participation.

Mentee Requirements

  • Mentees will be screened and deemed eligible by the Agricultural Support Manager before being connected with a mentor.
  • Mentees are eligible to utilize up to 10 hours of mentorship during the 2022-23 mentorship period.
  • Mentees will not be reimbursed for travel to and from the mentor’s farm.
  • Dependent on funding, HDFFA may cap the number of mentees at some point if budgeted hours run out.

This project is supported by the Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program grant [grant no. 2020-70017-32426] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Contact Us

We're not around right now, but we would love to hear from you. Team HDFFA

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