Parasitology Mentor Group Case Study

The AgResearch Parasitology Mentor Group was established in 1999 to provide oversight around a large-scale field trial set up at Flock House farm; to “build some credibility around the project for the science and the validity of the work that had been done because it was to be contentious and likely to come up with contentious results”.

Although the Mentor Group was originally established for the one trial, it is still operating 16 years later.

 

About the case study

This case study examined the role of the mentor group in contributing to adoption and practice and change. The AgResearch Parasitology Mentor Group was established in 1999 to provide oversight around a large-scale field trial set up at Flock House farm in order to “build some credibility around the project for the science and the validity of the work that had been done because it was to be contentious and likely to come up with contentious results”.

 

It was about creating a “process of engaging people right from the concept through the operation to the end... enabling those people with a broad range of skills and credibility within the industries to be able to be associated with (the project) and to provide some guidance to the running of the trial... also to be there potentially as advocates when the results were announced so they give some credit to the work that had been done and the way it had been done”.

 

In the original letter which the AgResearch project leader Dr Dave Leathwick sent to potential member he stated:

'It is extremely important that we get it right so that the industry accepts the results as fair and relevant…organise a Mentor Group to oversee the trial from start to finish. The role of the group members will represent their own section of the industry and help us ensure that not only are the trial objectives reasonable but the trial is well designed and executed…by being involved in an experiment from the very beginning, the group members should be in a very strong position to take the results of the experiment back to their sectors, thus playing an important extension role."

 

When the Mentor Group was first established they aimed to meet 2-3 times a year. These meetings were held at Flock House where the farmlet trial was set up. Meetings were half a day and involved Dr. Leathwick, and/or one of his team, presenting recent results, followed by a discussion around the issues and implications of the results – “what’s worked and what hasn’t worked but also what does it mean”. The group would then “try to think forward in terms of where we go next and try and have some discussion around that”. These meetings always involved a walk around the trial site “to look at the condition of the site to make sure it was as close to a commercial set-up as possible”. Examples of the type of discussion held while walking around the site included “you need to do these paddocks up/ this paddock here needs sorting/ if you do that paddock we’ve got to do all these paddocks…we’re going to strike a problem with mineral deficiencies so ok, how do we deal that that? You’ve got vets there so they can tell you we can get this for you and you can do all of these…so it really helped having a real mix of people.

 

Case study ‘network’: who was involved

  • Beef and Lamb NZ representative
  • Massey University Academic
  • Veterinarians (three)
  • Farm Consultant
  • Farmers (four)
  • Landcorp representative
  • AgResearch staff (three)


The role of the Mentor Group members is best outlined below, which is an excerpt from the letter Dr. Leathwick sent to potential Mentor Group members.

 

Excerpt from Dr. Leathwick’s original letter inviting potential individuals to participate in the Mentor Group:

“Because this trial will not only be technically difficult but also very expensive, it is extremely important that we get it right so that the industry accepts the results as fair and relevant. That is why I wish to organise a Mentor Group to oversee the trial from start to finish. The role of the group members will represent their own section of the industry and help us ensure that not only are the trial objectives reasonable but the trial is well designed and executed. For most this will involve a visit to Flock House once or twice a year to view the trial, reading and considering the trial protocol and results as they become available and contributing to discussion on the way. In addition, by being involved in an experiment from the very beginning, the group members should be in a very strong position to take the results of the experiment back to their sectors, thus playing an important extension role…”

 

Project Timeline

1998: ​AgResearch Parasitology Group gets 5 years funding for farmlet trial at Flock House​

March 1999​​: Invite sent to potential participants to be part of a parasitology mentor group

April 1999: ​​First mentor group meeting at Flock House

​May 1999: ​Follow-up letter to mentor group members regarding the meeting

September 1999​: ​Letter from Dave Leathwick to members - trial update

​October 1999: ​Mentor group meeting​

November 1999: ​Update sent to Mentor Group members from Dave Leathwick

​December 1999: ​Mentor group meeting

​March 2000: ​Mentor group meeting

​December 2000: ​Mentor group meeting

January 2001: ​​Letter from Dave Leathwick, agenda for next meeting and background information​

January 2001: ​Mentor group meeting​

September 2001: ​Mentor group meeting

​July 2001: ​Mentor group meeting

​August 2001: ​Mentor group meeting

​November 2001: ​Update sent from Dave Leathwick

​December 2001: ​Mentor group meeting​

August 2002: ​Agenda and update sent to members​

September 2002: ​Mentor group meeting

​November 2002: ​Flock House trial field day - anthelmintic resistance trial

​December 2002: ​Meeting in AgResearch Boardroom - discussing options for 2003/04 work

​April 2003: ​‘Drenching adult sheep or lambs which selects most for resistance’ final report sent to Mentor Group members​

April 2004: ​Mentor group meeting​

June 2004: ​Mentor group meeting - Background information provided to Mentor Group members - Project proposal document sent out – ideas generated from June 2004 group​

September 2004​: Document on milestone summary - summary of data collected since last meeting​

October 2004: ​​Update on trial sent to Mentor Group members

November 2004​: ​Trial protocol sent

​February 2005​: Mentor group meeting

April 2005: ​​Update from Dave Leathwick

June 2005: ​​Mentor group meeting

​September 2005: ​Summary report on ‘strategies for managing internal parasites and drench resistance’ project sent out​

February 2006: ​Mentor group meeting

​May 2006​: Mentor group meeting​

June 2006​: Meat and Wool NZ annual project review sent​

January 2008: ​Mentor Group meeting - trial update - walk around trial site

September 2008​: ​Mentor Group meeting - trial update - walk around trial site

​October 2008: ​Mentor Group meeting- ewe immunity trial - new trial​

June 2009​: Mentor group meeting - overview of programme - 4 objectives

​December 2009: ​Mentor group meeting - Ewe ill-thrift project preliminary analysis document

September 2010: ​​Final report “ewe immunity factors” sent​

March 2011: ​Letter sent from one Mentor Group member to AgResearch Board Chairman regarding the sale of Flock House and the impact on the work conducted by the parasitology team​

July 2011​: Proposal to Beef and Lamb NZFlock House sold

​June 2014: ​Mentor Group Meeting - results - future research