Sunday, 17 March 2013

The results are in

"If you participate in the olympics and don't win a gold medal, doesn't mean you aren't an olympian." Well, as you probably figured out, we did not make it into the final round at the International Agribusiness Case Competition

On Friday morning at 8 am we picked up a very thick case we were to analyze. It was regarding the Sustainable Agricultural Initiative and how it could move forward in the coming years. There was a list of questions that we had to answer and analyze in five hours. We did fantastic! We provided recommendations, an implementation procedure as well as a timeline for our suggestions. We rocked the presentation and the question period. There were two rooms of seven presentations, and of each room only three teams were selected for the finals. After our presentation, we waited 7 hours for the results. 

When we spoke to our judges after they announced the finalist teams, she assured us that we had covered everything we needed to and our presentation skills were excellent. The reason we did not advance to the finals was that we did not go in depth as well as the teams that finished ahead of us did. To our comfort, the team that finished third in our room, which placed us fourth, was a team of graduate students who had more experience then we did. Furthermore, the three top teams of the competition were the ones selected from our room- so essentially we placed fourth :P

All in all, this experience was amazing. It provided us with presentation skills, and tested our analytic abilities. Our team worked extremely well together, and I am looking forward to next year. 

Thank you once again to everyone who helped us get here! 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Its almost show time!

So it is the night before the competition. Our last group member and our coach have flown in, and we are hitting the hay early tonight! We have to be up and pick up our case for 8 am and have it completed by 1 pm.

When we win tomorrow, we will be given more information on our case and must present on Saturday morning. We have to have the extended presentation completed by 1 am on Saturday morning. Tomorrow is going to be a longggggg day!!

Yesterday we tried to do our own tour of the University of Guelph. Luckily we stopped by the right offices. We stopped at the Animal Science office hoping we could get someone to show us around their facilities. Andy Robinson, the chair of Animal & Poultry Science was nice enough to drop what he was doing and give us a tour of their barns and research facilities that are located on campus! They have a brand new multi-million dollar equine facility, and quite up-to-date dry-cow dairy facilities as well. I was impressed by the level of the infrastructure that was at a University (I guess maybe Ontario government sets aside more money in their budget for post secondary then Alberta does [particularly agriculture].) It was great to see such great animal handling and science facilities at the college- goes to prove the value Canadians have in agriculture.

We also stopped at the crop science building and found the facilities manager to give us a tour of their crop research end of things. We were able to take a look at the growth rooms they have for different experiments ranging from disease treatments (finally got to see what club root really looks like!) to nutrient deficiencies. It was interesting to see how they plant the seeds and how they grow them to replicate a real field.

We would like to extend our many thanks to Andy and Dietmar for their excellent tours! You may have just convinced us (well got me thinking about it anyways) to possibly attend grad school at the University of Guelph. Your facilities are fantastic and the atmosphere is great!

Now I better get to bed so I have a clear head for the competition tomorrow! Hopefully your won't hear form me for a few days..... that means we did well and have no time for posts! :)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

And I'm off once again.....

It seems like I have my greatest posts right from the airport...... Considering I don't fly very often I find this very saddening! But I guess what else is there to do when you are waiting for your 1240 flight to depart and it is 1120 am. (Yes Yes I got here too early!)

I am off to the University of Guelph to compete in my very first case competition! We will be competing against 14 other teams from around the world. The competition sounds very prestigious, being the International Agribusiness Sustainability Case Competition. Myself and three students from the University of Lethbridge will be representing ULeth at this international competition. Our entire team has the advantage of being from an agricultural background, and three of us are studying Agriculture. Our fourth member is completing her Management degree in Finance. Our knowledge should make us unstoppable!

Almost every one I have told about this always asks me, "What is a case competition?" Well here is some background specific to the set-up of this competition.

When we get to Guelph, they will give us the case to analyze for 5 hours. We have no idea what the context of the case will be until 830 am on Friday morning. We will then present on our analysis some recommendations and how to implement these recommendations.

In the past month our Management professors have been helping us prepare. Once a week we have met to analyze a different type of "agricultural sustainability" case. They have included a small farm that is not sure how to plan for the future of their family business; a multi-national multi-billion dollar company that has outside lobby groups attacking their procedures of harvesting inputs; as well as a company that is not sure how to move forward in the "free-trade" market.

Each of these cases were analyzed for five hours and presented on in 20 minutes, with 10 minutes open for questions. This will be the context of our competition, which makes me nervous! I hope five hours will give us enough time! When we win the first round, we will be given more information on the case and must expand on our presentation and present on Saturday morning.

This competition also serves as a qualifier for a competition in Atlanta! (Not like we needed to add any more pressure to ourselves!)

We are extremely excited to be given this opportunity. We will be the first ULeth team to compete, so we have some high expectations to fulfill. This competition promises to challenge us with something we have never done before and provide numerous networking opportunities. We would like to send our greatest thanks to our coach Steve Craig, and our faculty advisors Dan Kazakoff and Danny LeRoy.  More thanks goes to Jeff Davidson, Edith Olsen and Pascal Ghazlian for watching our presentations and giving us feedback.

We would also like to thank everyone who made financial contributions to our team. At this point I do not want to name any names in case I forget someone. I promise to follow up in subsequent posts.

Wish us luck! :)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


I feel the next big movement to hit the newspapers. Lets educate the world about the hands that feed us.

Check out this inspirational video produced by at the Lakeland College Student Managed Farm. If this doesn't make you want to share your story, I don't know what will.

Farmers feed the world, its time the world noticed. Lets use our hands to feed the world, and our voices to change it. On April 22, Earth day, post a picture, make a tweet or post a status with the hashtag #FarmVoices and we can make the negativity towards agriculture end!

Let's make this trend on Twitter and be the next viral video! By working together and standing for what we believe in, we can make this happen!

Monday, 4 February 2013

A little update

Hey there! Yes I am still alive........ School work has got the best of my time right now. I was thinking about my post "A New Decade" and I thought I would provide a few updates.

Here is a clip on the things I wanted to accomplish:

"Wow, when you put it down on paper it seems like so much more. So this has got me thinking about some things I would like to complete in the future:

- Be accepted into the Cattlemens Young Leaders mentorship program.
-Apply to University of Calgary to get my Vetrenarian Medicine degree.
-Travel to Costa Rica to do a Vet Tech program.
-Go on an Alaskian Cruise.
- Become a Professional Agrologist with the Alberta Insitute of Agrologists
 -Attend a championship sports event (Grey CupStanley Cup, etc).
-  Gain my 3 and 5 year leader pins with Alberta 4-H.
- Get $20,000 in scholarships (already at $18,350- not much more to go!!!!!!!) "

I was accepted into the finals for the Cattlemen's Young Leaders program. I was unfortunately not successful for the program, however the information I learned and connections I made were incredible!

I have registered for my third year as a 4-H leader! Upon the completion of the club year I will receive my pin!! :)

I have achieved well over $20,000 in scholarships already. Since I posted this original list in March 2012, I have received almost $10,000, putting my grand total at $27,300!!! The generosity of people is amazing, and I thank them very very much!

Some revised goals in light of the past 11 months:

-Get $40,000 by the time I graduate University of Lethbridge ($10,000/yr is my goal).
- Receive my 10 year pin with Alberta 4-H.
- Travel to Australia or New Zealand and work at an agricultural related job for 4 months (replacing this for the Costa Rica trip)
- I am not sure that my intended career path is to become a veterinarian, so I have adjusted that goal to receive a minor in agbusiness with U of Leth.

Thank you for everyone who helped me over the last year achieve these goals. Here is to the next 8 years of my second decade!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Agvocacy gone viral!

Viral videos are all over our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are all guilty of watching those hilarious YouTube videos of dancing cats and hilarious fun rodeos. But who would have thought that videos showing the daily life of farmers would go viral?

Music video parody's are some of the best viral videos, well maybe just in my opinion. As everyone can relate to the rhythm of the song and truly focus on the lyrics of the tune. There are 3 viral videos that stand out to me as the best "agvocacy" videos, as they provide some humor in addition to the learning process.

Farming and I Grow It comes from ThePetersonFarmBros and is a very hilarious and educational take on LMFAO's Sexy and I Know It. It helps paint a picture of what actually happens on a regular basis on a cattle and crop farm.

Another funny ag-parody is Farm It Maybe, which follows LittleFred2008 around a day at his family dairy farm. It shows him milking, bottle feeding calves as well as feeding grain. It shows how farming is not necessarily all grime and chores, but how you can have a little fun too. This video is a parody on Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe.  

Another one of my favourite musical parodys that help educate the public on agriculture is Chris Moyle's Agricultural- which is a spinoff of Ke$ha's We R Who We R which allows the public to learn a little bit more about what happens in the Agriculture industry.The video is not as great, but it still does the job!

So next time someone on social media is asking about what we really do on a daily basis, maybe instead of typing out a boring list of what we do every day, send them a link to one of these videos. It will educate them in a fun way, which sometimes is the best way! We want people to become engaged in our community, and I think this is a great way to keep them involved.

Who would have thought that agvocacy would go viral?!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Beef by-products

A cattle farmer makes a whole lot more then just the steak on your plate. One single beef animal can be responsible for over two dozen other products. (Please excuse the professional tone of this post, I cheated a bit. I used a school term paper.)

A by-product is defined as a secondary or incidental product in the process of manufacturing. Beef animals have many different uses that are available besides the purposes that farmers are focusing on; meat. One animal can provide more than two dozen uses after it has been slaughtered.  Many people believe we should utilise these animals’ by-products to help our society become more efficient in the manufacturing sector. Beef have been identified as the largest contributor for by-products in the meat animal industry,

                One beef animal can provide products for multiple industries, including the food, musical, photography, sports and health industries. There are over 40 known by-products using the secondary products from a beef animal[1].  Virtually every body part can be used in the production of something from the beef animal, whether it is the bones, fatty acids, horns & hooves, intestines, hide & hair, or their organs & blood. 64% of the animal is used for meat[2]; this leaves 36% or 360 pounds of a 1,000 animal for the production of by-products. Just about everything you do in the day includes the by-product of a beef animal.

Gelatine from bones

                Gelatine from the bones of a beef animal have several uses, both in-edible and edible.  The majority of these items are aiding the food industry while others contribute to the photography, beauty and health industries.
                The gelatine from the bones aid in the production of gelatine candy, including gummy bears, marshmallows, jell-o as well as the gel coatings for medication capsules. Other non-edible products made from gelatine includes photographic film, paper as well as hair gels. The gelatine is extracted from the bones of the cattle, through a process of curing, acid and alkali processes. These processes can take several weeks, and make a huge difference in the final products properties.  An at home version of these processes is to boil the bones from the animals, as the gelatine will dissolve in the water. After cooling the water, it should naturally form a jelly substance[3].  Manufacturing gelatine consists of three main stages; pre-treatment, extraction and refining and recovering. The pre-treatments are used to make the raw materials ready for step two. The final products chemical properties relay on these treatments, as they help remove impurities, which can alter the chemicals in the product. In the extraction process, hot water or a dilute solution of acid is used to extract the hydrolyze collagen into gelatine. The final step of refining and recovery treatments puts the product through several steps including evaporation, drying and grinding, which removes the water to obtain a blended, dried and ground gelatine product.   It can then be used in a variety of places.
                Gummy bears, marshmallows and jell-o have gelatine as an ingredient to help give them the “jelly” texture. Gelatine is also used to cover medication capsules, as it can dissolve in the stomach due to its acidic nature, but preserve the medication while in storage. It is also known to be an agent aiding in the wrinkle free aspects of many paper products, including crepe paper and playing cards[4].  Gelatine is used in photographic film to aid as a binding medium and protective agent for photographic records as it protects against the fading properties of light[5].
Hair gel with gelatine as a main ingredient is highly used in synchronized swimming, as it helps keep their hair in place as it does not dissolve in the cold water of the pool[6].  Gelatine is one of the many useful by-products from the beef animal.
                The fatty-acids from the fat of the beef animal also contribute to both edible and non-edible by-products. Adhesives, shaving cream, and tires  all contain by-products from a beef animal[7].  
                The sticky parts of bandages are made from the fatty-acid by-products of a bovine[8].  Certain fatty-acids are made from carbonates, which are well known to chemists as they represent an important class of organic compounds and many have interesting characteristics which make them useful for many industrial applications. The polar nature of the carbonate enables it become a strong adhesive agent[9].  
                Shaving creams use fatty-acids derived from beef animals as an emollient[10], which is a soothing agent for the skin. It is also used as an agent to keep the other ingredients intact in a formulation. 
                Tires have a stearic acid that allows the rubber to hold it shape under constant surface friction[11]. The asphalt on our roadway also has a binding agent from beef fats.

Horns & hooves
                Horns and hooves are the most commonly known by-product used from a beef animal. The uses of these products include imitation ivory, pet chews and piano keys.
                Depending on the coloring of the horn will determine the use. If they are white, it can be easily manufactured to look like authentic ivory, which is very rare material that is commonly used in jewellery making. Not much alteration is needed, just some basic buffing and shaping.
                Pet chews are not picky on the coloring of hooves. Basically, they are made by taking the horns and shaving pieces off. They are then shaped to the desired size, and then seasoned and covered in a collagen protein binder for the final touches.
                Piano keys were traditionally made from ivory.  However, since ivory is becoming increasingly hard to get a hold of, manufacturers have turned to using horns of other animals to make these musical pieces.  Just like imitation ivory, piano keys are simple to make from horns, simply buff and shape to the desired shape and size. 

                Using a beef animal’s intestine to create other products may seem unethical or disturbing to some people. However, I would bet that most people do not realize the products they make are for sports equipment and musical instruments.
                Tennis racquets have multiple different types of string to choose from, including polyester, Kevlar, Zyex, solid-core synthetic gut, multifilament core synthetic gut and natural gut[12], among other choices.  Natural gut is said to be one of the best types of strings you could put on your racquet. It gives power and control, with a shock-free feeling. It is fairly expensive, reducing its popularity in the modern age.  Intestines are not the only body part that contributes to the making of sports equipment.
                Animal intestines have been used in musical instrument strings for hundreds of years, typically from sheep, but also from beef animals.  These types of strings are known to define the tone of a violin[13].   It is important that the gut is allowed to cool after slaughter, if it is too hot, and the blood vessels break, it can lower the quality of the end product. They use the intestinal casings for production of the strings, and must have all the membranes removed.  It is then sent to the string maker who whitens the intestines so they are of a uniform color. It then goes through a dryer to allow it to harden, and then they shape and cut the strings in to their desired size.

Hide & Hair

                Many people are aware of the by-products used from the hide and hair of a beef animal. It includes leather goods, sports equipment, and paint brushes.
                Leather is made from the hide of the animal. The hide is then treated with tanning chemicals that react with the collagen in the skin. Collagen is a fibrous protein that makes up most of the skin and is insoluble in water[14].  The tanning chemicals allow the hide to become a durable material without disrupting the basic structure and natural beauty of the skin. Leather is used in a wide variety of materials, including shoes, car seats, belts, jackets and other things.
                Certain sports equipment manufacturers also use leather, such as baseball gloves, footballs, volleyballs among other things. One animal can make 20 footballs, 18 soccer or volleyballs, 12 basketballs or baseball gloves or 144 baseballs. The sports equipment industry uses over 100,000 cattle hides each year[15]
                Artists all over the world are using a piece of an animal every time they make a paintbrush stroke. The brush of a paintbrush is made from the hair of a beef animal. When shaving the animals hide for the use of leather, the hair is saved to be used for the paint industry. After collecting the hair, it is then put through a sanitation and bleaching process to make the hair a uniform color. After the processing is done, the hair can be assembled for use in the paintbrushes. Certain brushes are more bristle then others, due to the different species and breed of the animal used. Typically the hair of a pig is used for the firmer brushes then cattle hair would allow. 

Organs & blood
                The organs and blood of a beef animal after it has been slaughtered provide many uses in the health industry. Insulin, allergic reaction treatments, and haemophilia treatments are a few of the ways the organs and blood of a beef animal can help save human lives.
                The pancreas is used to extract insulin for diabetes patients. Modern technology has allowed for advances in this medical field, providing synthetic versions of insulin. However, in certain parts of the world, the pancreas of cattle is still used for these patients. A fresh pancreas is best for the extraction of the insulin, as there would be less proteolytic enzyme activity that kills the insulin[16].  The season of year, age, breed and sex of the animal all have impacts on the amounts and quality of the insulin received.  It is easily extracted through a serious of filtering the fluid from the pancreas.
                The adrenal glands and pituitary glands of a beef animal can be used to help treat allergic reactions and allergic diseases. The adrenal glands of any mammal produce hormones that are used in multiple daily body functions[17], including fatigue, stress, allergic reactions and other conditions.  It is thought that by taking a dosage of these hormones extracted from an animal will help supplement what the patient’s body is not producing for them.              
                36% of a beef animal contributes to other industries rather then meat, such as sports equipment, health and cosmetics in addition to other industries. One animal can provide more than two dozen uses after it has been slaughtered.  Many people believe we should utilize these animals’ by-products to help our society become more efficient in the manufacturing sector. Beef have been identified as the largest contributor for by-products in the meat animal industry. There are over 40 known by-products using the secondary products from a beef animal.  Virtually every body part can be used in the production of something from the beef animal, whether it is the bones, fatty acids, horns & hooves, intestines, hide & hair, or their organs & blood. Utilizing everything we can from a meat animal allows each industry to lower production costs, as they do not have to manufacture these ingredients.Based on all of these by-products, I do not understand how vegans avoid everything manufactured from animals, I know I could never do it.

[1] Dekalb. (2009). Beef by-product fact sheet. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Dekalb Farm Bureau:
[2] University of Nebraska. (2010). Beef By Products. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Ag 4 Kids.
[3] Wikipedia. (2012, March 10). Wikipedia. Retrieved Macrh 14, 2012, from Gelatine:
[4] Thurn, J. (2003, 3 December). The Cochineal. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from history, Chemistry and Long-Term Effects of Alum-Rosin in Paper: https://paver,
[5] Hendriks, K., Lesser, B., Stewart, J., & Nishimura, D. (2012). Properties and Stability of Gelatin Layers in Photographic Materials. Retrieved March 12, 2012 , from Albumen:
[6] (2012). How to gel your hair for Synchronized Swimming compeittion. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from iSport:
[7] USDA. (2008). Ag in the Classroom.
[8] University of Nebraska. (2010). Beef By Products. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Ag 4 Kids.
[9] Wikipedia. (2010, November 30). Diacarboxylic acid. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Wikipedia:
[10] Copperwiki. (2011, November 7). Shaving cream. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Copperwiki:
[11] USDA. (2008). Ag in the Classroom.
[12] Matts Tennis. (n.d.). String Research. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Matts Tennis:
[13] Larson, D. (2010). Making Gut Strings. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Gamut Music Inc:
[14] Destrier. (2010). How Leather is Made. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Hub Pages:
[15] Dekalb. (2009). Beef by-product fact sheet. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Dekalb Farm Bureau:
[16] Fisher, A. M., & Scott, D. A. (1934). The insulin content of the pancreas in cattle of various ages.
[17] Web MD. (2012). Adrenal Extract. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Web MD: