Mentoring Scheme

The NZES mentoring scheme 2023 is now open for participants to sign up. The aim of the scheme is to connect members throughout the country and give everyone an opportunity to share their experiences. We’ve been running it for several years now, and the feedback has been very positive.

We're looking for mentees and mentors. Mentees can be students or early career ecologists (typically within 7 years of completing their highest qualification allowing for career gaps) and mentors can be anyone working in ecology. Mentees must be current members of NZES and mentors are encouraged to join or renew their membership. Sign up for the mentoring scheme here: NZES Mentoring Scheme sign-up form

Applications close 23 April 2023. If you have any questions, please email Kate McAlpine:




Mentoring early career ecologists in New Zealand: Special Panel Session held at NZES Conference 2021

The NZES mentoring scheme aims to help early career ecologists benefit from the work and life experiences of later career ecologists. This special conference session included a panel of ecologists from various backgrounds talking about their experience being mentors and mentees. Click here to watch the recording of the panel session.

Chair: Kate McAlpine

Panel members: Tim Curran, Nicola Day, Cate Macinnis-Ng, Dion Pou, Susan Timmins.



Overview of the NZES mentoring scheme

What does the scheme look like?

The mentoring scheme typically runs from May to November each year. During this time, we expect mentoring pairs to meet once a month (4 meetings) for about an hour via Skype (or a similar video conferencing app) to discuss a particular issue or topic identified by the mentee. We have a list of suggested topics including combining work and family, returning to work, changing career paths, writing a manuscript and developing a career outside academia (please see the sign up form for full list of topics). The first session will be around setting goals and expectations and planning for the remaining three sessions. We hope many of the pairs will then be able to meet at our annual conference(although participants are not required to attend the conference).  Many societies choose to have mentoring programmes for underrepresented minorities but we hope to provide this opportunity for all member early career ecologists (see definition below) as a way of fostering a culture of mentoring amongst ecologists.


The core values of effective mentoring relationships are:


Manaakitanga – cherishing and enhancing the mana of others.

Whanaungatanga – acknowledging and building relationships.

Kotahitanga – a shared understanding of the purpose and/or vision for the mentoring arrangement and a commitment to learning together.


What do mentors look like?

Anyone with some experience in ecology can act as a mentor but we would expect mentors to have some experience relevant to some of the topics listed below. Good mentors are good listeners who take an interest in their mentee. Mentors should read this list of Top 10 Tips for Mentors before deciding to take on the role. We expect mentors to range from very senior scientists and professionals to recently graduated PhDs. For early career researchers, this is a great way to build some leadership skills and we hope our more experienced members will enjoy interacting with people at earlier career stages. We will provide some training materials to mentors (with thanks to the British Ecological Society for sharing their mentoring documents). We welcome professional ecologists, people working in government, research scientists, self-employed ecologists, academics, and postdocs as mentors. Mentors and mentees must negotiate a confidentialty agreement amongst themselves but as a general rule, mentoring sessions should remain confidential.


What do mentees look like?

We expect mentees to be students and recently graduated early career ecologists (within seven years of highest degree, excluding career gaps). We will also try to accommodate people who are changing career paths. Please provide details of your eligibility for the scheme when you complete the application form. Ecologists who are in the work force (or looking for work) but are still in the early stages of their careers could apply to be both a mentor and a mentee. Mentees will be in charge of arranging meetings and planning the agenda. Mentees must be aware that mentoring and councilling are not the same. A mentee can choose to pull out of the scheme at any point but if a mentor cannot continue sessions for any reason, the mentee should get in touch with the scheme coordinator so we can try and make alternative arrangements. The most fruitful mentoring relationships happen when mentees are actively engaged in the process so those mentees who put more into the meetings will get more out of the scheme. Please make sure you can commit to four sessions (one each in August, September, October and November) before applying for the scheme.


What will be provided?

Mentors and mentees will be provided with some reading material prior to their first meeting to get everyone prepared for the sessions. We encourage everyone to read He waka eke noa: Mentoring in the Aotearoa New Zealand research community on the Royal Society Te Apārangi website If there is interest, we may provide electronic certificates for participants at the end of the scheme.


What are the ongoing expectations?

As mentors will be busy, we ask mentees not to continue contacting the mentor once the scheme is complete. If mentees need further support, we run the scheme annually so mentees may be able to seek advice for a new mentor each year they remain a member of NZES. We will ask all participants to follow the professional code of conduct of the Royal Society Te Apārangi


Why are we running the scheme?

This is one way we can provide an additional benefit for members. In our 2017 member survey, many ecologists said they would like more networking opportunities and benefits for members. This is a cost-effective and low carbon approach to creating links across the ecology community of Aotearoa.


Any questions?

Please email Kate McAlpine:


We are unable to guarantee that we can accommodate everyone but we will do our best to support all applicants. If the scheme is over-subscribed, we may arrange some peer-to-peer mentoring groups around particular topics.