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NVBS prides itself in having experienced practitioners willing to mentor others. To bonsai-newcomers the volume of information is daunting, but with the help of a mentor new practitioners can understand and apply techniques to the care of their own trees without feeling overwhelmed. Members may work with various experienced mentors who can answer questions, provide consultation when needed, and help them refine their skill. 

Below is our 2023 re-launched NVBS Mentor Program:


The mentorship program is free to NVBS members who are up to date on their annual NVBS dues. The ultimate goal of the program is to help newcomers to bonsai and/or NVBS Members to learn about the art of bonsai, improve their bonsai skills, and ultimately succeed in the art.


Mentors will be listed on the website (coming soon) with their picture, at least 3 pictures of the trees they have designed, qualifications (that includes: number of years practicing bonsai, background on their bonsai experience/learning, and any bonsai awards), type of trees that they specialize on and/or types of mentoring they can/may offer, and anything else we should know about them. Mentors will advertise their mentoring sessions for members to sign up and will provide their approximate location and availability.



NVBS Members will self-nominate to become a NVBS Mentor. The NVBS Board will confirm the official NVBS Mentors while considering the nominees’ skill, ability to communicate, rapport with others and availability. 



Upon request from a NVBS member, the mentor will make arrangements for one-on-one guidance or consultation. This may be in person, over the phone, through video conferencing (Facetime, Teams, Zoom, etc.) or email. Mentors who are working with many mentees may decline requests and suggest that the mentee ask for help from a different mentor listed on the website.



All group session types listed below will be scheduled at a date, time, and location (including virtual) of the mentor’s choosing. The mentor should determine and communicate the maximum number of participants for a given group/group session, as well as any other appropriate restrictions or criteria, and expect members to RSVP as directed so that the number of participants can be managed. If they choose, mentors may invite current one-on-one mentees and past participants of group sessions before opening the invitation to other club members. To open a session to members, the mentor may:


• Work with a board member to send a message to everyone on the membership list. (If you need help communicating with a quick turn around, call or text for help.)

• Post on NVBS Facebook page (NVBS Board can assist on posting for individuals not on Facebook)


MENTORING - Small Group Work Session

A small group work session is a casual get together to work on or talk about bonsai. If you choose to offer this type of session, please make efforts to offer at least some “open slots” to members rather than only inviting the same group of people back each time. This offers members seeking mentorship a casual opportunity to meet and work with mentors to find a good match.


MENTORING - Mentor-Led Skills Workshop

Slightly more formal than a work session/ get together, a mentor-led workshop is a single or limited number of sessions offered and led by one or more mentors intended to focus on a particular activity such as repotting, decandling, wiring, or any number of other topics.



Study groups will be defined as: 

• A set group of participants with a specific mentor(s) studying a specific topic or skill for longer or in more depth than a mentor-led skills workshop

• A set group of participants with a specific mentor(s) working across multiple sessions within a defined timeframe. At the end of which the study group is disbanded.


A study group, then, is like a connected series of mentor-led skills workshops. Examples might include:

• Beginners/new member Study group. For new NVBS members that have limited bonsai experience, if they wish to be, will be assigned to a Beginners Study Group in order to ensure their longevity in doing bonsai.

• A ceramics study group that will meet four times during the fall to learn how to build ceramic bonsai containers


• An azalea study group that meets 6 times over a 2 year period to create an azalea bonsai - from selecting a plant to purchase, initial styling, potting, maintenance and care


• Bonsai tree preparation for a bonsai show. Goal: have an NVBS member present a tree at the U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition (Rochester, NY) 


If a study group needs to be named for communication purposes, the name should focus on the topic and the mentors when there are only one or two. (eg. Chuck’s Black Pine Study Group, Rich’s Presentation and Display Study Group)


NVBS Members may take advantage of as many mentoring experiences as they like.



Mentors and/or group representatives should provide a short write up and pictures of what was done/learned/accomplished for the NVBS monthly Newsletter (emailed to NVBS President) and NVBS Facebook page for the benefit of the rest of NVBS. 

NVBS Mentors - Rich Bozek, Curtis Bueno, Chuck Croft, LeAnn Duling, Joe Gutierrez, Pete Jones, Xuan Le, David Lieu, Paul Marria, Gary Reese, Jack Rubenstein, Aaron Stratten, and Carl Tull 

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