The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) Mentor Program is celebrating its 2019 and 2020 graduates. The graduates this year have proven to be a resilient group in finding creative ways to maximize opportunities through the program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CYL Program, delivered through the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, was established in 2010, where young people across Canada ages 18-35 are matched with an industry leader for a nine-month mentorship and participate in various industry events and learning opportunities. Thirty-one CYLs graduated the program this fall, of which 16 are from Alberta.
Cow-calf producer from Hays Lake, AB
Focus Area: Grazing Management & Soil Health
CYL Mentor: Dr. Kim Ominski, University of Manitoba Dept. of Animal Science Professor
Iva Harberg farms with her father, husband, and their two young children on a mixed farming operation in Central Alberta This past year Harberg and her husband have officially been handed the reins to manage the cow-calf herd. Through the CYL Program, Harberg set out to expand her skills in the realm of grazing and soil health, with an interest to learn more about the environmental benefits of the agriculture industry and measuring its impact. Harberg was paired with Dr. Kim Ominski, who has established a research program improving the productivity and sustainability of beef cattle production in Western Canada.
Harberg and her mentor found creative ways to connect virtually and attend online industry events together that she points to as a program highlight.
“At the beginning of going to all those events, I would have thought I wouldn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation with any of the other people at the events,” Harberg said. “But now after going to a few and having conversations with some of Kim’s colleagues and friends, I feel like I can have a confident conversation at a table with anybody there.”
Harberg’s future goals are to expand their herd numbers and work towards implementing a year-round grazing strategy.
PhD Student and cow-calf producer from Indus, AB
Focus Area: Feedlot Nutrition and Consulting
CYL Mentor: Dr. Matt May, Feedlot Health Management Services
Cameron Olson is from a small cow-calf operation Southeast of Calgary, AB, where they also finish about 20 calves for their farm to plate direct marketing beef sales. Olson is nearing completion of his PhD at the University of Alberta studying beef cattle reproductive genetics and its relationships with feed efficiency and feed intake in mature cows. Joining the CYL Program in the summer of 2019, Olson was among the group of 2019 CYLs who had their time in the program extended an extra year due to COVID-19 limiting opportunities.
Olson was match with Dr. Matt May with Feedlot Health Services to further explore the topic of feedlot nutrition and consulting. The mentorship connection opened the door for a part-time job opportunity at Feedlot Health Management Services, where he’s been offered full time work consulting upon completing his PhD studies in December.
“CYL is probably the premier program that I know of for developing leaders in agriculture and specifically in the beef industry,” Olson said. “I think it’s a very important step to take if you’re serious about being in the industry for the long-term.”
Applications for the CYL Program are open from January through March each year at www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com.