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: http://dekalbfarmbureau.org/pdf/Beef%20By-Product%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
[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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin
[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,ischool.utexas.edu/html/2801/1396/j-thurn-03-alum.html
[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: http://albumen.onsercation-us.org/library/c20/henriks1/html
[6] iSport.com. (2012). How to gel your hair for Synchronized Swimming compeittion. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from iSport: http://syncrhoswim.isport.com/syncrhonized-swimming-guides/how0to-gel-your-hair-for-a-br-synchronized-swimming-competition
[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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicarboxylic_acid
[10] Copperwiki. (2011, November 7). Shaving cream. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Copperwiki: http://www.copperwiki.org/index.php/Shaving_cream
[11] USDA. (2008). Ag in the Classroom.
[12] Matts Tennis. (n.d.). String Research. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Matts Tennis: http://www.mattstennis.com/html/__string_research.html
[13] Larson, D. (2010). Making Gut Strings. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Gamut Music Inc: http://gamutmusic.squarespace.com/making-gut-strings/
[14] Destrier. (2010). How Leather is Made. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Hub Pages: http://destrier.hubpages.com/hub/leather-supply
[15] Dekalb. (2009). Beef by-product fact sheet. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from Dekalb Farm Bureau: http://dekalbfarmbureau.org/pdf/Beef%20By-Product%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
[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: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientsmono-951-ADRENAL%20EXTRACT.aspx?activeIngredientId=941activeIngredientName=ADRENAL%20EXTRACT

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Cattlemen's Young Leaders Spring Forum Day Two

Today was a whirl wind of a day. It went by so fast, and I hope I can re-account for most of our conversations.....

First of all, today was incredible in the regards to meeting so many passionate youth within agriculture. Everyone that I had the chance to talk with had great ideas on how we can improve our ever changing industry. The flow of conversation never ended, it was much more laid back then I thought it would be. I was nervous for nothing, I felt like I was just sitting and having coffee with my fellow farmers, which essentially was all that we were doing. Discussing pivotal points within the cattle industry. Oh, and I guess we were being judged too.

The format was simple, with 6 questions and 6 rotations. Allowing for groups of 4 candidates to circle around the room and discuss key issues to the industry. 

My first table was a discussion on how we can ensure a sustainable and profitable future for the Canadian beef industry. Some of the concerns shared were how to feed animals more efficiently so we can provide more meat to our ever expanding export markets, and how to correct the traceability program so that there is more farm involvement. These were just two of the issues raised at a table of four candidates with a facilitator in a matter of 20-25 minutes. I am sure that if given more time to talk, we could have come up with more areas of focus.

The next round lead me in a discussion that if accepted to the program, what type of mentor I would be interested in having, as well as how I could become a leader for the Canadian cattle industry. My ideal mentor would be someone who plays a large part in the marketing and communications sector of the industry. I am leaning towards this area because I believe there is a huge disconnect between the average joe and the ag industry. Not too many years ago there was a time when everybody knew someone from the farm, and now we are reaching a point where people believe an egg comes from the store. I believe it is our job to promote the industry and promote the education about the industry. This is why I would enjoy having a mentor within communications so I can learn how to tell agriculture's story in a better way. I believe I could become a leader in the Canadian cattle industry by doing just that, telling agriculture's story and ensuring a sustainable industry through the consumer and make sure they are comfortable buying our products.

My third round table discussion was about the tools needed for young producers to financially succeed in today's agricultural environment. Some thoughts brought to the table where grant programs, incentives for education as well as being aware of the cost of doing business. Grant programs where an individual must create a farm on paper, in detail, and include start up costs, cash flow projections and other pieces of information to present to the sponsor and have them asses your plan and reward you with grant dollars. I think that this would be a great step in helping young people start from square one, if they are not fortunate enough to inherit a farm from their parents. Incentives for education will help young farmers want to go to school with a focus in agriculture, and help them come out with smaller loans. As it is a struggle many students face is whether or not they can afford to start a farm right out of school, or if they need to work for a while to lessen the financial debt and then be able to start a farm. Another important piece of the financial stability of an operation is knowing where you stand financially. If dad is always doing this piece of the business, and he is suddenly unable to do so, there will be deep trouble ahead. It is vital that everyone involved in the operations is aware of what is happening, so that they can deal with the paying of bills and other vital links in the operation so it can remain intact.

There was a quick health break and then we started our fourth round table discussion. The topic for this table was farm succession planning. This can be a very scary subject to a lot of people, lets face it, who wants to talk about their own death? However, I believe it is very important for the long term planning of an operation. If something were to happen to the main decision maker on the farm, what would happen to the family? I am sure we all know of people who are no longer speaking to their brothers and sisters for this very reason, that mom and dad left no plan and they were forced to fight over everything. It is much better to start the plans early, as you never know what is going to happen. It is vital to gain input from every child, regardless of whether or not they want to be involved in the hands on part of the farm. This seems to be the pinpoint of many family arguments, is that this is the legacy left by your parents, and you should be able to be involved even if it means not having the hands on aspect of the operation. Another point brought up was that what happens when there is no family to leave the farm to? People also need to be aware of this and ensure there is a will to identify someone as the executor of the estate so they can make the decisions regarding the operation.

The next discussion focused on how we can have a positive influence on consumer demand for Canadian beef and what tools we could utilize in doing so. Our table focused on educating the consumer, and ensuring they are aware of how we as an industry care about issues such as animal welfare. We need to ensure we are spreading positive news, so that the negative news can be drowned out of the media. In addition, there needs to be communication with other beef industries, including the US and Mexico. There is a lot of discussion with these countries, however it tends to be on a competitive nature. We need to work with them, and share ideas of how we tackled an issue, as well as learn from their best practises list. As we are a global agricultural industry, and at the end of the day we all have the same goal, so we need to ensure we are presenting a united front.

My last discussion was on the topic of encouraging innovation to advance the competitiveness of the sector. This discussion also landed on the same basis of global communication. As well as national and provincial communication within other sectors of the agriculture industry. Each sector can learn from other areas, including poultry, swine, grain as well as other pieces of the industry.

The judges and facilitators then deliberated and decided which 16 of the 25 candidates will be chosen to participate in the program. Discussing these topics with the other candidates amazed me, how many youth have such a strong grasp on many aspects of the industry. This made me extremely nervous, as well as commending the judges for the hard job they have to do, who will get this opportunity of a lifetime? Of course, as with anything they put off the announcement and kept us in suspense for a long time. Unfortunately, I was not chosen as one of the 16 participants for the CYL program. However, I am not discouraged, as the people chosen definitely deserve it. They are very knowledgeable in their interests, as well as very strong leaders. I am fortunate to have been able to participate in this forum, as I have walked away with many ideas and new thoughts to put into the industry. There are not many other opportunities to sit and have a lengthy discussion with the CCA president, or be able to share stories with the founder of AdFarm. This has been a great experience, and I will apply to attend again next year.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Cattlemen's Young Leaders Spring Forum Day One

Cue Corb Lund's Long Gone to Saskatchewan, as this depicts my morning perfectly. I travelled from Vermilion to Saskatoon this morning for the Cattlemens Young Leaders (CYL)  Spring Forum.

The CYL program is run under the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA). The purpose of the program is to provide industry specific leadership and mentor ships to young people in the cattle industry. Launched in Alberta in 2010, the program has now grown to include all of Canada's youth cattle leaders.

Throughout the mentor ship, the mentee is provided with a variety of formal and non-formal opportunities to learn and grow their knowledge of the agriculture industry. Young producers between the ages of 18 and 35 years have a chance to participate in high level discussions that define the direction and future of the Canadian cattle & beef industry. The program provides a chance to explore careers, and to make connections within the industry.

Today marked the end of the program for the 16 participants for 2011-2012, with a banquet supper recognizing them as graduates of the CYL program. Today also marks the start of the journey for the 25 candidates for 2012-2013. I have been given the privilege of attending this years Spring Forum as a semi-finalist.

The program for today started with a brief and casual meet and greet with the graduates, mentors, candidates, facilitators and judges. We then moved to an industry panel where we got to ask some pivotal questions facing the industry, and try our hardest to stump the panel. Our panelist consisted of; Martin Unrau CCA President, Jeff Bilow of UFA, John McKinnon a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, Scott Wright from the Government of Canada, and Sandy Russel of Spring Creek Land & Cattle Consulting. The panel was able to provide insights into various issues in the industry, from consumer concerns to where the beef industry will be in 5 years.

We then were able to listen to one of the top 50 influential people of Alberta, Brenda Schoepp. The main theme from her speech was that we need to focus on what the consumer wants. The average Canadian has 1.3 kids and 2.2 dogs. This speaks to who we need to cater to with our marketing strategies. The typical Canadian family is not what is used to be. We need to ask our consumers, "What is it that you want?"  The driver of the upcoming consumer is different as well. Less then 1% of kids get information from a book, the rest search the internet and use social media. We need to tell our stories in these formats to get our word to the consumer.

We also need to connect the dots in the industry. Brenda shared that when she visited Europe, she met a farmer who a portion of everything that was used in producing his pigs. From the land used to grow the feed, to the trucks used to transport them, to the processor used to cut the meat. Which I find interesting, as this is where you will make the most money. She also added that every farm had a social room and invited their customers to come and see the farm. This is vital to the relationships being built between the farm and the plate.

Brenda is a 2012 Nuffield Scholar. Her proposal to make a mentor ship program for women in agriculture could not be ignored by the Nuffield panel. as 53% of the worlds agriculture workforce is made of women, as well as 29% of Canada's. This is vital to the international cattle industry to have her working on a mentor ship program to help teach women to become more involved in agriculture.

One last thing Brenda added was that "You need a priest, and a policeman once a day. Three times a day you need a farmer." I think that was a fantastic closing remark as it builds on how vital our industry is.

Following Brenda was a break before the banquet that signified the graduation of the CYL 2011-2012 group. We were able to some intensive networking with mentors, facilitators, and judges.  Even if I am not chosen to do the complete program, having the opportunity to have these connections and have great conversations with these people is phenomenal. Not many places could you sit down with the founder of AdFarm Kim McConnell and the President of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association Martin Unrau to have a casual discussion about everything agriculture.

I am very nervous for the round table discussions tomorrow which will be on;  What are the key issues facing farms in terms of succession planning and implementation?  How can you as a leader in the Canadian Beef industry have positive influence on global consumer demand for beef and more specifically Canadian Beef? What tools might you use to help address this? How can the cattle industry encourage more innovation to advance the competitiveness of the sector? What is needed for young producers to financially succeed in today’s agricultural environment? How do we ensure a sustainable and profitable future for the Canadian beef industry? What are you looking to learn about in your potential mentor ship? What would be your main interest area?

Hopefully everything will flow and my brain will be in full working mode!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Where Lakeland College can take you

 After my excitment of getting accepted to Lakeland College in the Animal Science Technology (AST) diploma, I had many people asking me, "Well what kind of career can you get with this education?" Many people were under the impression that this was a school to make a farmer, but it is much more than that. 

In order to truly tell you what you can do with a diploma in Animal Science, I have asked five of my thirty six classmates three questions; give me a bit of background and why you chose Lakeland, what is your favorite aspect of the AST program, and what are your future plans.

Brianna Baghsaw came from the very very small town of Birsay, SK. (Don't feel bad if you need to google map it to find out where it is, I did). She is a 5th generation mixed operation farmer, including grain and cattle. Brianna chose Lakeland because a friend from 4-H attended and absolutely loved her time there. She was able to convince Brianna to attend. The small class sizes made the decision final for Brianna, as it was an easy step from her small high school. Her favourite part of the AST program is all the hands on experience. "It's not all book work, you get to learn to do by doing, not just watching or reading about it!"

Brianna's summer will involve lots of fleece at the Elbow Multi Species project at Elbow,Sk. Her duties will include moving sheep and goats with her dog, Lacey, and horses during the grazing season. She will also be doing some fencing and kidding the goats. Brianna plans to stay involved in agriculture for the rest of her life. 

Brianna and Lacey

Brooke Lowes came from a large cow-calf operation of approximately 1700 head and 3000 acres at McAuley, MB.  She chose Lakeland because she wanted to do something with agriculture, and the university that she was attending did not offer an ag program. Brooke also liked that Lakeland also offers the hands on aspect in the Student Managed Farm, which isn't offered anywhere else.

"I enjoy how the teachers that teach you aren't just people who don't care to get to know your name or treat you as a number. They all have left industry jobs to come and teach the younger generations. They all have great passion for what they have done in industry which allows you as students to also develop passion as well as great industry contacts."

This summer Brooke will be returning home to the farm, where she will be calving the cows, artificially inseminating approximately 400 heifers and helping with their custom silage operation. In September, Brooke will be returning to school at either University of Manitoba or University of Saskatchewan to work towards her Bachelors in Animal Science.

Brooke roping calves at home.

Riley Isaacson came from a mixed farming operation near Viscount, SK. He chose Lakeland because of recommendations from friends who have attended. His favorite aspect was the environment created by people that go to school here and the fun that happens in addition to all the learning. This summer Riley will be working at a community pasture along the Montana border in Saskatchewan. His duties will include working on a 108 section, or 432 quarters, pasture with 5 horses. Riley will ride to rotate cows and rope sick cattle to treat them, as well as check fences. This position is part of the PFRA program.

Riley analyzing  pasture land.

Carolynne Vallee grew up in small oil town Bonnyville, AB. Her love for horses, animals and the outdoors contributes immensely to who she is and what she does. Carolynne chose Lakeland College because it was a school where she has the opportunity to work hands on with livestock and meet people from the agriculture industry.

Her favorite aspect of the Lakeland College AST program is how much hands on experience there is to gain and how tight-knit all the ag students are. Carolynne added that moving away from home for the first time is pretty intimidating. However, being a student in the AST program is like being part of a family. She also enjoys the small class sizes and the close student-teacher relationships.

This summer Carolynne will be working at the Lakeland Agricultural Research Association in Bonnyville. Aside from working, she will also be coaching the advanced drill team in her home town. In the fall Carolynne will be transferring to University of Alberta to finish her degree in Animal Science as well as complete her pre-requisites for vet school. Her long term plan is to get accepted to veterinary medicine where she plans on specializing in large animal practices and focus on equine medicine. Carolynne's dream is to own a practice in a rural area and make a career out of working with large animals.

Carolynne with her two favorite animals.

James Harbers traveled all the way from Iroquois, ON to attend Lakeland College. The reasoning behind this was to gain as much hands on experience he could in the agriculture industry. James grew up on his family's dairy farm, and became the President for the Lakeland College Dairy Club this past year. James found himself a part time job while in Vermilion, working for a grain farmer. James stayed in town this last summer to work at this farm, and he will be staying until Christmas this year to help out before returning to Ontario. 

James testing some college feed with fellow students. 
As you can see, the AST program at  Lakeland College can take you many places, including further education opportunities, working in government research stations or even just going back to the family farm. Lakeland College provides its graduates with great hands on experience that lets them live the learning, as well as providing excellent industry professionals to help the learning process. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Alberta Elections

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Western Producer about the upcoming Alberta election. The questions revolved around what young people in agriculture are looking for in the candidates.

I will not be using this blog post to tell you how I will vote, this will be more of a thought process of what I, a young person in agriculture as well as a student, am looking for in this election.

For those of you who are unfimilar with the Alberta election process, here is a little background.

Eligible voters must be 18 years of age at the time of voting, as well as be an Alberta resident for the last 6 months and be a Canadian citizen. For more information on how to register to vote please visit the Alberta Elections website.

The political parties include the Progressive Conservatives, Alberta Liberals, Wildrose, Alberta New Demoractic Party(NDP), and the Alberta Party are the only parties that have been represented in the legislative assembly. For a full listing of political parties please visit Wikipedia.

Best picture I could find to show the constituencies in Alberta.
Shout out to daveberta.ca.
My constituency is Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. My candidates are Spencer Dunn from the Liberal party, Shannon Stubbs from the Wildrose Party, Chris Fulmer of the NDP, and Jacquie Fenske from the PC party.

Who has the best promises to sustain agriculture?
It is vital to Alberta that our government supports farmers.   Everyone eats everyday, and farmers put the food on the table. If our government does not support the farmers in the province, it will hurt every single Albertan. Long term farming and sustainability is important to ensure not only we have food on the table, but so do our upcoming genrerations.

Is there help to promote youth being involved in agriculture?
 Many family farms were sold after the BSE outbreak.  A lot of youth who grew up on these farms are now seeing that agriculture is becoming a large industry again, with rising market prices. This is encouraging to have them go to school and start their own farm. Promotion for this generation is not just agricultural youth programing like 4-H, but to help them get their foot in the door. This could be achieved by providing grants or low-interest loans for new and upcoming farms.

What help is being proposed to post-secondary students?
 With rising costs of living comes rising tuition costs. Sitting on the Students' Executive Council at Lakeland College opened my eyes to the fact that tuition increase is allowed if the cost of living increases, not necessarily because the cost of education is rising. This is not helpful to students who have little support from outside sources. This is a huge deterrent for  youth in Alberta to want to further their education. Why would they PAY money to go to school for 4 years and gain massive loads of debt, when they can get PAID to work and make good money right now?  Tuition costs and extra fees freezing would help keep these costs minimal, or have a forgiveness program for student loans. If a student can guarantee they will stay in Alberta for 5 years and keep a job in the field they studied, maybe payback if not all, at least a portion of their tuition fees?

Are there proposals for help with child care?
I had never thought of this until the Western Producer interviewer asked me, "You are around child bearing age, do you have concerns regarding childcare fees?" I had never considered myself to be of this age, however, I will become this age while this elected government is in office. This is something people my age should consider, in 3-5 years, where will I be in my life? Should I look into additional proposals in case I have children while this government is still in session? Somethings to consider with this side of the platform is if there will be funding provided to low income families seeking child care, or if there will be incentives for youth to go into the child care sector.

What promotion is being made to get youth to vote?
 Talking to many other students at my school, they are not concerned with voting in this election. This kind of scared me, to think that they do not care how our province will be run. This is vital as each age category has different views and needs they are looking for in the election. For example, someone who is 50 years old is looking for solutions regard electricity lines and oil pipelines being run through the province, or what proposals are being made for the Canadian Pension Plan. This can cause a government to come into session that is focused on these issues, and not at all concerned with issues relevant to our generation.

Is it important to have younger people in office?
Yes and no. Yes it is important to have young people representing us in office to help provide a new fresh prospective in the "old mans" club. However, what age is the best? Anything younger then 25 may not be suitable. They make lack the experience in the government world that would help them become contributing members of the assembly. Especially if they are still attending school would make me wonder if they  have the time to commit to the job. I do agree it is great to have younger people within government, but too young can be an issue. It would be great for them to be a page or some other job within the assembly first to help them gain experience.

I hope that this blog post have helped some other youth become involved in the elections in Alberta, and want to vote. As soon as the interview with the Western Producer is published, I will post the link. :)


The story has been published: 

Saturday, 31 March 2012

A new decade

Well, its official folks. I am no longer a teenager as of 4:20 a.m yesterday morning. With a new decade of my life starting, I though I would make some new goals and do some new things.

First things first, I must "rename" my blog-. I have decided to leave the same URL (to avoid making new business cards), but change the title. The second thing was to give my blog a  facelift. I kept the same concept, just changed some font and color choices. I think it looks a tad more sophisticated :)

I also thought I could take a moment and look back on my life, see what I have accomplished and maybe make a few new goals for this upcoming decade, or a "Bucket list" of sorts.

So a few things I have accomplished in my first 19 years of life:

-Won Grand Champion Steer at a cattle show.
- Finalist in Alberta 4-H Provincal Public Speaking
-Travelled to Japan for a month on my own.
-Travelled to Italy and Vatican City.
- Won a selections trip from Alberta 4-H (National Citizenship Seminar 2011)
- Accepted (and soon to complete) an agricultural diploma. (Animal Science)
- Travelled to Nashville, TN, and went to the Grand Ole Opry.
- Attended the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO.
- Became an agvocate, and started a blog.
-Achieved my Platinum Award of Excellence with Alberta 4-H.
-Accepted to the University of Lethbridge to complete my degree.
-Elected as the President for the Lakeland College Students' Association-Vermilion campus.
-Accepted to interview for the Cattlemens Young Leaders mentorship program. 

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 Cup, Stanley 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 am very happy with the first 2 decades of my life, and I can not wait to see what this next decade has in store for me.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Born in the wrong town.

Some people are old souls, and claim they were born in the wrong decade, as they believe they would have been more comfortable with different fashion trends and music. Other people were born in the wrong town, thinking they would much rather enjoy a life either with the big city lights, or the stars above their cattle pastures. This post is about a girl who was born in the wrong town.

Going to college or university is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and finding out who and what you are going to be. My friend Thea Reed, did just that by attending Lakeland College and taking Animal Science Technology.

Thea was born in Squamish, BC, and spent practically her whole life there. For those of you who do not know where that is, you can find her hometown nestled between Vancouver and Whistler. Typically, this town isn't home to many aspiring agricultural professionals, except one.

Out in Manitoba, her aunt runs a feedlot, which got Thea started on her love for everything cows.

This is just a taste of her cow inspired room.
After applying to come to school in September 2010, Thea applied to work on the college farm for the summer of 2010, to help herself gain more knowledge on everything farming. Most people would never travel over 1500km away from home to start a new adventure like this. This is why I am amazed by this girl, stepping outside of her comfort zone, knowing this is what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

Almost 1500km away from home.

Working at the college farm that summer, Thea was finally able to purchase her first real cow to call her own. She bought a Jersey steer, and named him Stetson. As you can tell from the picture below, there was a lot of love between her and this little steer. Everyone that Christmas got Christmas cards, from Thea and Stetson.

Merry Christmas! Love, Thea and Stetson
There is a bond between a girl and her cow.

Somewhere along the ride of college, she began a love for the breed of Minature Herefords, which of course caught a lot of slack from our classmates. This did not, and still has not diminished her dream of becoming a miniature Hereford breeder. After starting Lakeland, Thea got involved in the Stockman's Club The club's purpose is to bring together students who are interested in the future of the cattle industry, while going to shows as well as exhibiting cattle. Thea was given the opportunity to travel to Denver, CO to attend the National Western Stockshow with the club. This was an opportunity of a lifetime for everyone on this trip. We spent about 4 days touring the barns at the show and learning about the "odd" breeds of cattle that are not your typical top contenders. There was a great attendance from the Minature Hereford breeders in America, and helped make Thea's dream much more concrete.

Thea posing with a Minature Hereford in Denver.

Another dream of Thea's was be an exhibitor of cattle at a cattle show. She did not care where, or with who's cattle, she just wanted to try it. This past Saturday at the Lakeland College Stockman's Club Little Royal Steer and Heifer Jackpot Show, her dream came true. On show morning, Thea came up to me and you could tell she was very nervous as this would be her very first time in the show ring, and asked, "Weren't you nervous your first time showing?" In which I answered, "Probably, but I was 11 years old, so I don't really remember." Which got me thinking, how much passion and drive she had to do this for her first time at the ripe age of 20. Everyone she was competing with had been showing for years, which only made her nerves run higher. However, you would have never known this watching her in the ring from the stands. She knew exactly how to set up her animal, where to rub it's belly to keep it calm, and her heifer was the only one who stood still throughout the entire class. This has got to say something about her love for all things cow.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Thea and her heifer won second place in their class!!

Thea exhibiting one of Lakeland College's heifers.
Photo credit: Cathy McKenzie

I am amazed by the passion and determination Thea exhibits when it comes to agriculture. Coming from a town where cow was simply a term used when talking about a steak or a glass of milk, she has found her home. I am confident that Thea will become a great Minature Hereford breeder, and an advocate for agriculture, I also believe she is a prime example of following your heart to do what you love, even if it does mean moving 1500km away from home.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Lambing & Calving 2012

Sorry for my lack of posting guys! Things have been crazy around the Lakeland College Student Managed Farm powered by New Holland. We are in the tail end of our calving season, and our lambing season is underway!

As part of my cow-calf management class, we must do the calving checks throughout the calving season. We start with one 24 hour check, and then move to 48 hours shifts. There is 5 groups with 5-6 students in each group. This class is offered for second year students, however as part the first year reproductive class, the lab portion requires them to do some calving checks as well. We do checks every 3 hours, unless it is below -20 degrees Celsius, then we check every 2 hours.

Black angus calf born Feb 9, 2012

My Student Managed Farm class requires each student to choose a team to be a part of. Our choices were the dairy, beef or sheep teams. I chose the sheep team because I wanted to gain more experience within the sheep industry. As part of this class, we must be on call for the first year sheep production students, who have to do the regular checks everyday. Their check schedule is 24 hour shifts, with one 48 hour weekend shift. They also check every 3 hours, unless it is below -20 degrees Celsius, then every 2 hours. For the second year Sheep Team, we are there to aid in any complications that arise, and be there to advise at chores with the lamb processing.

A commercial lamb born March 8, 2012

As you may start to notice, I have a lot more pictures from the lambing barn. What can I say, they are a little cuter and easier to photograph.

One of many sets of twins

One of our excellent mothers

As with any sheep operation, there comes a few orphans. This year, to date we have 20 orphan lambs that need to be bottle fed 4 times per day. They are fed at 1am, 7am, 1pm and 7pm. We have students that are our orphan managers that oversee the lambs health to ensure they are being fed appropriate amounts at each feeding. We typically try to foster the lambs to mothers who have lost their babies. If there are no mothers to take fosters, we have to orphan them if the ewe doesn't have enough milk to feed all her babies, or is not accepting the babies.

Our orphans drinking from a pail.
Overall, we have been crazy busy on the farm in the last few weeks. I hope this post makes up for my lack of posting!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

National Western Stock Show

So I am headed to the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver, CO in exactly one week! I am beyond excited to see everything. So I thought I would read up on one of the largest Stock shows in North America, and what started it all.

It all started in 1899, with some informal livestock shows hosted in Denver, on an irregular basis. Finally in 1905, a group of interested stakeholders met in December. The site of the Stockyards was choosen, which was kept until 2001.

The very first organized show was held on January 29, 1906 and ran for 6 days. The first General Manager was chosen as Harry Petrie. There was an estimated 15,000 spectators for this beginning year.

The 1906 Grand Champion steer sold for 33 cents per pound, which was a whopping 23 cents over the current market price. Things started out very strong for the very first NWSS.

March 1906, the not for profit organization was officially incorporated.

The Horse Division was added in 1907, and in 1909 Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn breeds were added to the program.

1909 was the first year they charged admission, which was a quarter. (I WISH!)

Finally in 1911they built the two and three story barns, as well as a club building. The program also expanded this year, to include poultry and beef carcass classes.

In 1915, the show had to be canceled due to the Foot and Mouth disease epidemic, which did not allow livestock to cross state lines. This was the only year in the shows 106 year history it was cancelled.

A program for admiting school children to the show was established in 1922.

The show started to feel the effects of the Great Depression in 1926, and lasted until 1933.

Rodeo was introduced into the shows program in 1932, as a part of the 25th anniversary celebration, which also included building the Lamont Pavillion.

The 1935 show added the first Cath-a-Calf contest and included girls in 1974, and in 1941 the Grand Champion steer was shown by a 12 year old, Kenny Monfort!

The show was forced to be confined to local participation due to the repercussions of World War II. In 1952, the ground expanded to include the Denver Coliseum.

The 60s was a great year for adding to the show program, to include Appaloosa, Paint and Pinto classes, as well as a Charolais cattle class.

1972 was a difficult year for show officials. Their Grand Champion Steer was deemed to be ineligible, s it was entered at the American Royal show as a white steerm and was dyed black for the NWSS.

The 80s ws also a huge year for the show, as 1980 helped expand the show to include Bison, and was the year the National Western Scholarship Fund was added. 1987 opened the International Center, and registered over 600 guests. 1988 was a record year of attendance, to include over half a million people.

In 1996 the 90th Western Stock SHow expanded to 16 days with 23 rodeo performances, 11 Hrose shows and 2 Mexican rodeos.

The Pro Rodeo Cowboy's Association named the National Western as the worlds #1 indoor Rodeo in 1997.

Coming into the digital age, the show went online at nationalwestern.com in 1998.

The new millennium was an opening year for dairy cow milking competition, wild horse races, and a stick horse rodeo for kids.

An all new Western Heritage Week took place in the stockyards in 2009 including the first annual Stockdog sale, All Breeds Bull Sale and a Celebrity Chuck Wagon Cook-off.

Despite the severe cold and snow, last year during the first week of the show alone, attendance hit over 600,000 people!

I am beyond excited to be heading to Denver for a short 5 days, but I can not wait to share this experience with my college family.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Green Revolution

When I was sitting in my facilities class, we were talking about the history of agriculture. My professor started telling us about the Green Revolution, and it sparked my interest. I had never heard of it, so I started doing a little research, and I thought I would share with my readers.

What is the Green Revolution?

The Green Revolution refers to the research, development and technology initiatives occurring between the 1940s and 1970s. This period increased the agriculture production around the entire world. 

How did it get its name?

The term was used first by former USAID director William Gaud when he commented,

"Thse and other developments in the field of agriculture contain the makings of a new revoloution, It is not a violent Red Revolution like that of the Soviets, nor the White Revolution lliek that of the Shah Iran. I call it the Green Revolution."

Some History

It all began in Mexico by Norman Borlaug, in the 1940s, and had been depicted as a huge success, and many other nations sought for it. 

In 1961 India was on the brink of a mass famine. They introduced Borlaug's ideas into the Punjab region because of their reliable water supply and known agricultural success.

In the 1960s it spread to the Phillippines, and later to Africa. However, most agricultural programs introduced into Africa have not been successful due to the geographical influences of the region.


Sometime in the 70s, there was a proposed worldwide netowrk of ag research centers. The World Bank created the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Benefits of the Green Revolution

The Green revolution helped with the wide spread of agricultural technologies, like irrigation systems, pesticides and fertilizers.

It also helped with production increases in the developing nations with these technologies.


Many people have criticized the Green Revolution for its effect on bio security and diets.

The spread of the technology helped with the spread of food treatments and food processing. Many people have said that the use of technologies, such as pesticides and treatments to keep food fresh, has lead to many diseases. As well, environmental groups have had their say in how the Green Revolution has impacted the environment, for the worse.

My Opinion

Global warming and cancer have a lot more precursors then pesticide use and other agricultural technologies, such as fuel emissions and other types of chemical use. I think the Green Revolution has given us a lot of things, and it has helped developing countries be able to feed their citizens. Anything that will help feed the people of the world for years to come is alright in my books.