Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Carsten Schmidtke

Committee Member

Vicki Dieffenderfer

Second Committee Member

Julie Robinson


Cooperative Extension, Employee Retention, Fit, Mentee, Mentor, Perception


The purpose of this study is to determine the perception employees of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (CES) after participating in a mentoring program. The CES implemented an onboarding program in 2010 which included a yearlong mentoring component for county extension agents because they were resigning at an alarming rate. The study aimed to illuminate if the mentoring program increased the county extension agents’ perception of fit after completing the program by determining if they felt they possessed characteristics that were compatible with the organization.

This study was founded on the mentees’ viewpoints of their perceptions of person-organization (PO) fit, operationalized by the person-environment (PE) fit framework. The researcher was able to identify implications and recommendations for practice, policy, and research by analyzing the literature regarding acclimating new employees, organizational commitment, and employee fit to describe the nuances of fit within the county agent’s working environment.

The four major themes to surface in the study was mentee perceptions of CES culture, history, and traditions, employability skills needed for success, what might have increased feeling of fit, and effective mentor qualities and practices.

Mentees conveyed that mentor qualities and practices had varying results depending on the nature of the mentor and their chosen actions. Effective qualities and practices like being positive, approachable, encouraging, and devoting sufficient time to the mentorship resulted in the mentee feeling positive about the experience, but if the mentor was negative, difficult to approach, did not offer words of encouragement, and did not devote enough time to them the mentee developed negative feelings for the value and impact of the program. Several mentees mentioned had it not been for the mentor program, they would not have continued working for the CES. Mentees had clear opinions on what elements would have increased their feeling of fit had they been included in the mentoring program including more time with other mentees, more involvement from their direct supervisor, and having more than one mentor. Additionally, mentees would have liked an option to continue the formal mentorship for more than one year, to have an opportunity to be involved in a formal internship program, and for the CES to offer mentors additional incentives for their involvement in the mentoring program.