Professional Development Program

What Is the Latornell Professional Development Program?

The Latornell Professional Development and Mentorship Program fosters opportunities for learning, career growth and networking within the environmental sector.  The program hosts events and workshops to connect individuals interested in experiential learning, network building, and the broad aspects of professional development. A collection of events and activities are being worked on to generate a variety of opportunities for people to purposefully connect with new people of all ages with similar interests and to share stories and experiences and learn from one another. Your experience with this program may be a single conversation or it could end up being a life-long professional connection.

Professional Development and Mentorship Program Background

On the 20th Anniversary of the Latornell Conservation Symposium, we launched a new initiative Professional Development and Mentorship Program. Art Latornell believed in sharing ideas and experiences with young people, and cared about a younger generation learning about natural resources and the environment. The Latornell logo was designed to represent the significant aspects of Art Latornell’s life and legacy. The logo is a silhouette of an ancient tree, which represents the conservation of natural resources, and Art’s long-standing interest in the natural world. When viewed in the negative however, the white areas formed by the trunk contain the profiles of two people, a young student and an older man, with their heads lowered as if studying something on the ground. This view of the logo represents Art’s belief in the importance of mentoring and teaching which he practiced in his lifetime and which continues through his bequest in the Latornell Programs.

With this in mind the Professional Development and Mentorship Program initially focused on fostering opportunities for career growth at the beginning of your career, mid-way through, or for any continuous learner that enjoys connecting with new people of all ages with common interests. Quickly however, we began to hear from many participants about the value of program in terms of furthering their knowledge, experiential and career development. This led to this initiative being renamed the Latornell Professional Development Program, within which mentorship still plays a crucial role.

Principles of Latornell Professional Development and Mentorship Program

The following points outline the key principles and intent of the Latornell Professional Development and Mentorship Program.

  1. Respect for others
    Participants will show respect for one another similarly to how we share a common respect for the environment. Please keep an open mind and be receptive to new insight and knowledge from all experiences, even if they differ from yours. Be respectful of others. Be professional.
  2. Two-way street
    Professional development within the bounds of this program is a two-way street. This is an opportunity that can benefit both parties. Mangers can learn a lot from talking to – and listening – to junior staff, and vice versa. A mentor can learn from their mentee, just as a mentee learns from their mentor.
  3. Organic
    Professional Development should be free flowing and professional. There are no rules other than the principles outlined here. Mentors and mentees who meet through this program can decide how and when to connect depending on their life demands.
  4. Many ways of learning
    The way that people learn and perceive is very personal. Understand that your professional development mentor or mentee may learn and perceive the world in different ways than you.
  5. Pay-it-forward
    If you have ever benefited from a mentor, colleague or senior professional within your field, you know how valuable that experience was to you. It may be your turn to pay-it-forward to a colleague that may be seeking a similar experience.

What Does Mentorship Mean to You?

Here are a few quotes on the benefits of Mentorship from different perspectives:
Being a student who is finishing up my post-secondary education at the University of Guelph and venturing into the working world, I see myself as being in a transition period of my life. Although exciting, it also seems a little scary and daunting at times, especially when competition for jobs is high and I am unsure of what exactly it is that I want to do next. Having a mentor to guide and support me through this transition period has been a great benefit as it has helped me identify my goals, given me direction and increased my confidence. Having a mentor whom I share commonalities with and who is very involved has been a key to my success and has exposed me to many opportunities and avenues I didn’t even know existed. It has been comforting to know that there is someone there whom I can trust and can rely on to provide good advice as I continue to grow and learn.
Katie Keenan, Graduating student, University of Guelph
Mentorship: We are never too old in age or long in our career to benefit from a mentor. Mentors do not have to be older than we are. Mentors are individuals that we trust and respect, and who are influential and supportive. Many people are willing to share their knowledge and experience with others but they don’t list themselves in the yellow pages under mentors. What you need to do is ask for an opportunity to learn from their experience and career choices. If you ask them to be your mentor you might not get the answer you were hoping for, the precise definition of a mentor is elusive and the word itself can be scary to some people.
Tom Prout, Retiring, General Manager/Secretary Treasurer, Ausable Bayfield Conservation
To me, Mentorship is about guiding. This isn’t the same as teaching because, in my mind, a good mentor doesn’t give you a step-by-step guide to success. Instead, they provide valuable insight that can only be gained through experience, and this insight can in turn be taken and applied in a way that makes sense to the person being mentored. The results of this transfer and application can then be fed back to the mentor in a reciprocal, iterative process. With this in mind I believe that mentoring is particularly important to me in my current situation: as someone who is working toward completing a PhD I feel that I am in a position to both offer and accept career and life lessons. We are never too young (or old) to help guide others down the paths we have already walked.
William Trenouth, Ph.D. student, University of Guelph
To me Mentorship is about growth and development. As a mentee it allows you to benefit from the wisdom and experiences of those ahead of you. It provides an opportunity to learn from the very best, to get a better idea of how things “really are” and provide guidance and structure to your development. It’s about developing a positive relationship; it’s about having that guiding lighthouse to bring you into shore as smooth as possible. Being a mentor allows you to pass on those valuable lessons learned. It gives you that opportunity to give back; to give a guiding hand, the same way you were helped to where you are. Mentorship provides that structure needed to grow and pass on lessons learned.
Kendrick Doll, Natural Heritage Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust
Mentorship is about sharing experiences and knowledge, participating in discussion of lessons learned and thoughts about the past and future. Having worked in the conservation field for around 10 years in a variety of jobs in different sectors I am at a point in my career where I am trying to decide whether I want to transition into management, stay in what I see as a more hands-on position or maybe change career paths altogether. A mentor that has already made some of these decisions could give me perspective and advice on how each of these options could affect my life and share their related experiences to help me facilitate the change I want to pursue. In turn, I am happy to share my path and experience in a mutual learning experience. I view Mentorship is a two-way street of learning and benefits.
Lisa-Beth Bulford, Development Planner, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
Relationship, dialogue, learning and transfer of knowledge are all words or phrases that come to mind when I think of the term Mentorship. Personally, I have benefitted from the experience and generosity of others in the on-going development of my own career. This assistance has been particularly helpful in framing what it means to be a professional and in understanding the sensitivities that often accompany decision making and political processes. Likewise, as my career has progressed I have attempted to assist others where I am able to. I see this as both a privilege and an obligation. A privilege in the sense that I have the opportunity to contribute to the career development of future leaders and an obligation in the sense of my belief that this is a fundamental contribution that can be made to society and my profession.
Wayne Caldwell, Wayne Caldwell Director of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development and a Professor in Rural Planning, University of Guelph

More Information

Join our LinkedIn Group – a safe space where program participants as free to ask questions, schedule social or professional meetups and post links to exciting new jobs in the environment and conservation sectors. To request access, please message Bill Trenouth using LinkedIn messenger.

Join the Latornell Professional Development Program Mailing List in order to receive news and stay up-to-date with upcoming events. Please note this is separate from the Latornell Mailing List.

Join the Latornell Professional Development Program Mailing List
The Latornell Professional Development Program can also be reached at

The Latornell Conservation Symposium is one of Ontario’s premier annual environmental events. The Symposium provides a forum for practitioners, policy makers, nongovernment organizations, academics and businesses to network and discuss the challenges and opportunities in Ontario’s conservation field.