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THE NALP EXPERIENCE


Mentors vs.entors v Program Managers


By Jill Odom


IN THE PAST YEAR, SINCE LAUNCHING THE Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program, 52 companies have enrolled and the first apprentices are beginning to graduate from the program. If you are thinking about participating in the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program but aren’t quite clear on how to staff and manage the program, one aspect to consider is who from your team will take on the important roles of program manager and mentor.


WHAT DOES A PROGRAM MANAGER DO? “The program manager handles everything until the individual is approved for the apprenticeship program (i.e. sourcing/recruiting, relationship building, reviewing requirements, working with NALP on any paperwork),” says Angela Barr, administrative manager for Eichen- laub, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “Then there’s the baton handoff to the mentor.”


Barr took on the program manager role for her company as it was a natural fit due to her handling many of the recruitment and sourcing activities. For Environmental Management, Inc. (EMI) based in Plain City, Ohio, the employee responsible for training and development is their program manager.


“Many of the same tactics used to 26 The Landscape Professional //September/October 2020


find apprenticeship candidates are those used in sourcing full-time team members and interns,” Barr says. The program manager position is suited for someone who is already well-versed in handling administrative paperwork and keeping others on track. Environmental Enhancements, based in Sterling, Virginia, assigned the role of program manager to their office/HR manager who has been involved in the program from the beginning. “The program manager is the primary contact with NALP and turns in forms and is a resource for the mentors,” says Joe Lewis, LIC, account manager for EMI. “The mentor is driving the bus and the program manager is making sure they’re driving in the right direction.”


WHAT IS A MENTOR?


Mentors are responsible for the training that is conducted, which is why companies typically select those who are already in training roles to be their mentors. EMI selected mentors from members of management who were already Landscape Industry Certified technicians or managers. “We wanted somebody that was in a management position or a position of influence,” Lewis says. “Somebody who has the vision of ‘Look this is new. There may be things that aren’t perfect or ironed out yet, but we need to adapt to make this work.’” Carmen Kesteven, office manager for Environmental Enhancements, says they look for the most qualified mentor based on their experience, knowledge of the industry and training abilities. “Our Staff Development Coordinator was the right person to handle men- torship,” Barr says. “She is an industry veteran who is well-versed in all things landscape. Her role at Eichenlaub is to provide, deliver, and manage training opportunities.” Lewis explains that being a mentor isn’t a full-time job, but rather you check


Apprenticeship: Program


Managers


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