Peer groups have profound influence

Peer groups have profound influence

Agribusiness
OPERATION FLINDERS: Michael Bagshaw on the Operation Flinders trek earlier this year. The organisation assists at-risk youth, with some program participants invited to be peer group mentors.

OPERATION FLINDERS: Michael Bagshaw on the Operation Flinders trek earlier this year. The organisation assists at-risk youth, with some program participants invited to be peer group mentors.

Aa

Peer groups can be very powerful, with some having a positive influence, others less so. In some instances, they can be destructive. They say we become like...

Aa

Peer groups can be very powerful, with some having a positive influence, others less so.

In some instances, they can be destructive.

They say we become like the people we spend the most time with. I think this is true in lots of respects.

Negativity is very infectious, as is positivity. It is best to associate with people that have a positive attitude. A realistic one, to be sure, but overwhelmingly positive is much better.

I recently assisted with a group of peer group mentors for Operation Flinders.

Operation Flinders assists at-risk youth and gives them a new direction.

The flagship program of the foundation is the eight-day trek in the Flinders Ranges.

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When you hear the stories of the young people involved and the hardship and trauma most of them have endured, it makes me appreciate the caring and attentive upbringing I had.

Some of the participants are identified as having leadership qualities, and are invited to become peer group mentors.

This is where they go on the trek with the new participants and act as mentors, as they are a similar age and have been through the experience previously.

I haven't been on a trek with a peer group mentor yet, but I can imagine - and have been told - the first-time participants enjoy having someone roughly their own age, who knows the ropes with the group, and is someone who they can aspire to be like.

The benefit for the peer group mentors is that they can hang out with other mentors and the older adults from Operation Flinders.

These young people are given leadership training, and they grow as a result.

The whole process can be life-changing for these young people. They learn they can make a major difference, and the confidence this gives them is amazing.

This carries on throughout their entire lives, and they can then impart their knowledge onto others they come into contact with.

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Peer groups are just as relevant in an agricultural context, both on- and off-farm. I have often seen the power of these groups manifested in a sporting context.

There have been examples where the attitude to training filters down through the team, particularly if the attitude is more professional.

People innately don't like to let other people down, and tend to go the extra mile. People like to fit in, and they do this by copying behaviour.

There are online peer groups in agriculture, where ideas and advice are freely shared. These situations have the effect of disseminating information very quickly.

Most people these days are pretty independent thinkers, and can sort out quite easily whether they should take advice on board or not.

Peer groups are everywhere. As humans we are social, and have a need to interact with other people.

Spending time with the right group of people will get you a long way.

Aa

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