Preparing mentors for their role is essential. Though most research tells us that you cannot teach or train someone how to be a mentor, there is tremendous value in preparing mentors for their upcoming experience through self-reflection, setting expectations, and discussion.

Ultimately, mentors will learn and develop their skills while they are mentoring. For this reason, in addition to preparing mentors for their role, it is critical to create a supportive and inclusive community to support mentors during their mentoring experience.

This “Mentoring Training Toolkit” distills what was learned in the years of training undergraduate students to be mentors into five modules, each focused on a key component of mentoring: Mentoring Overview, Effective Communication, Youth Development, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Conducting Research. Each module includes several easy-to-implement activities, linked resources and templates, and suggestions for adapting the activity to a digital platform. If you are not supporting mentors who are also simultaneously preparing a science research project, you should skip the “Conducting Research” module.

While the activities were developed for undergraduates serving as near-peer research mentors for 3-4 high school students during a tiered urban ecology research mentoring program, we believe they could be adapted for any audience who is beginning a mentoring experience.


We worked hard to distill the curriculum down into only the most essential components and we feel that all of the elements included in this toolkit are key for supporting a mentor. The activities are divided into five different modules and we included an activity timeline that worked well for us. However, use your judgement about which activities to include and the order that you put them together. If you are looking for a certain kind of activity, searching by module may be the most effective way to find what you want.

The timeline breaks the activities down into seven sessions which should take place prior to mentoring and a handful of activities which should take place while mentors are actively engaged in mentoring.

Access the Recommended Timeline

The time estimates are based on approximately 15 mentors per group. The activities could be longer or shorter, depending on the number of mentors you are working with.

If you are teaching this curriculum virtually, click here for some additional resources and tips.

Check out our interactive map!

Maximize your next trip to the zoo. Check out on your smartphone to view real-time info and our interactive map.

Need some direction? Access real-time info and our interactive map.

I’m in the park

Visit the in-park app experience

Need some direction? Get park maps, real-time info, and more with our new app.

I'm in the park