Participant Spotlight

2021
Amanda Miller , Mentee
Larry Thomas, Mentor
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Brock Larson , Mentee
Ty Yeast, Mentor
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Darren Dinsmore , Mentee
Victor Oulton, Mentor
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Diane Van Essen , Mentee
Ryan Copithorne, Mentor
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Emily Seed , Mentee
Andrea De Groot, Mentor
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Holly Sparrow , Mentee
Kelly Sidoryk, Mentor
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Janine Rubin , Mentee
Jodie Griffin, Mentor
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Julia Flinton , Mentee
Judy Guichon, Mentor
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Laura Macrae , Mentee
Brendan Scholten, Mentor
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Laura Scott , Mentee
Jaclyn Wilson, Mentor
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Logan Houff , Mentee
Pat Hayes, Mentor
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Melissa Gablehaus , Mentee
John McKinnon, Mentor
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Nikki Olson , Mentee
Kelly Smith-Fraser, Mentor
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Rheanne Ritchie , Mentee
Dr. Egan Brockhoff, Mentor
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Tia Schram , Mentee
Mike Panasiuk, Mentor
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Victor Drury , Mentee
Graeme Finn, Mentor
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Amanda Miller, Mentee

Biography:

Amanda is passionate about rangeland stewardship and conservation, with a keen interest in providing ecological tools and strategies for long-term sustainable land management. She spent part of her childhood on a small ranch in the Chilcotin region of British Columbia, which instilled a love of the ranching industry. While obtaining an undergraduate degree from Thompson Rivers University, she found rangeland management intriguing, as not only a complex science, but also a field where the importance of grazing as an ecosystem function was recognized and celebrated - tying together childhood experiences with the scientific method.

Amanda has a master’s degree in Rangeland and Wildlife Resources from the University of Alberta and has been a professional agrologist since 2016. As a rangeland specialist for the Government of Alberta from 2013-2019, she worked to develop ecological tools, applied research and policy solutions to address emerging rangeland issues. She has worked for years exploring the relationship between a vibrant beef industry and grassland conservation outcomes, and is looking forward to working with a mentor in the cattle industry to explore policy problems and pieces to further rangeland management and conservation supporting industry sustainability and competitiveness.

Currently the owner and founder of Palouse Rangeland Consulting, Amanda works largely with the BC Cattlemen’s Association, and is a supporter of sustainable beef and cattle as a conservation tool. In her free time, you can find her exploring the mountains by foot, on skis or horseback.

Larry Thomas, Mentor

Biography:

Larry graduated with a BSc in agriculture from the University of British Columbia in 1981. He worked with the range division of the BC Forest Service, Kamloops Region before going back to university and receiving a MSc in animal science – beef cattle range and pasture nutrition from the University of Saskatchewan in 1987. After work with the Horse Industry Branch of Alberta Agriculture, Larry hired on with the Canadian Cattlemen Magazine where he worked for 21 years as associate editor until 2008. He then took on the role of national coordinator of the Canadian Beef Advantage – Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) development team for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). In 2015, Larry contracted to CCA as communications lead for the Verified Beef Production - Plus program. In 2018, he was hired as Manager Environment & Sustainability with CCA.

In his current capacity, Larry represents CCA on environmental policy and issues. He analyzes and consults on government environmental and related policy that may impact Canada's beef producers. He also liaises with environmental non-government organizations, conservation organizations, producer groups and international organizations relating to many issues around beef cattle and the environment.

Larry is an avid outdoorsman, keen fly fisher and operates a small farm raising horses and growing Haskap berries with spouse, Leslie. He has been historically involved in land use planning and conservation activities and education in his community in the Foothills region SW of Calgary, AB.




Brock Larson, Mentee

Biography:

Brock grew up and currently farms with his family on their cow-calf operation in southwest Saskatchewan near the hamlet of Simmie. The operation consists of a Red Angus commercial herd where the top females are bred shorthorn in the hopes that heifers are produced that are then retained as replacement. Recently, the herd has expanded to include a small purebred shorthorn sector that is growing by the years through purchases of animals and retainment of heifers. Growing up, Brock was active in his local 4-H beef club and this is where he developed his passion for genetics and breeding of beef cattle. Since this point, Brock has been trained as an AI technician and has implemented an AI program at his own farm, as well as doing some custom work for others. This passion pushed Brock to attend the University of Saskatchewan, where he recently completed his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in Animal Science. Off the farm, Brock has been working for Spagrud Water well, a water well drilling company based out of Gull lake, SK.

Brock is very excited to be selected as a finalist for the CYL program and looks forward to connecting with the other finalists and hopes that through the program he will be able to expand his knowledge on beef cattle genetics, as well as the different breeding tools that are available and how to best utilize them.

Ty Yeast, Mentor

Biography:

Ty currently works with agricultural genomics company Quantum Genetix as Vice President, where they are rapidly expanding, with their “Genomics Simplified” approach; using genomic information and digital technology to improve farm efficiency, both in livestock and crops as well as monitoring system for antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Growing up on a cattle ranch in SW Saskatchewan, Ty began his corporate career in agriculture with global bioscience company, Alltech, upon completion of a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan. He went on to complete his MSc from the Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland and the Advanced Management Development Program from the Michael Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin. While at Alltech, he worked in multiple capacities of the business including global beef manager and managing director of Canada, US and Australia, all within the animal, crop and alcohol segments of the company.




Darren Dinsmore, Mentee

Biography:

Darren spent part of his childhood living and working on farms in Ontario. He was a member of his local 4-H club where he showed cattle. He has been farming in Goose Bay, Labrador for four years now. He wants to be a catalyst for the development of the livestock industry in Canada’s Northeast. He hopes to impact food security, the environment, soil fertility and land stewardship practices. Darren now has 40 acres planted with a variety of forage crops for his growing beef herd, and a new 90 head livestock facility. Although Labrador has no Abattoir, and he is the only one raising beef cows, he hopes to see an abattoir open in Labrador’s near future, and others begin to raise more livestock.

When he is not working on the farm, he pastors a local congregation just up the road. Darren is passionate about working with his head and hands to benefit the health and hearts of his community. He also works closely with the Pye Centre for Northern Boreal Food Systems, which is a research farm for the Labrador Institute of Memorial University. Darren is certainly not the first to try his hand at farming in Labrador, but he hopes to build on the hard work of those before him.

Victor Oulton, Mentor

Biography:

Victor grew up on the family farm in Martock, Nova Scotia. The farm has been in the family for over 100 years. He currently farms with his family, wife Novadawn, son and daughter-in law-Wyatt and Ella, their children Rhett and Scarlett, Victor’s brother and his wife and family Wayne and Nicole, Ty, Chett, Josee, Nate and Jorja, as well as Victor’s parents Mike and Dianne.

Their farm is a multi-commodity operation with beef – cow-calf to finish, Purebred Herefords and Red Angus- poultry, sheep, deer, elk, wild boar, goats and orchards. On the farm, there is also a red meat abattoir and a poultry abattoir, as well as a meat shop where all of their animals are processed and marketed through.

Victor graduated from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 1988 and has been farming ever since. He was a 4H leader for 20 years, as well as coaching minor hockey for six years. He is past president of the Canadian Hereford Association, Maritime Hereford Association, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Windsor Agriculture Society and Canada’s oldest agricultural fair, The Hants County Exhibition. He has also served on many other National and Provincial ag boards and committees and is currently vise-president of the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers.




Diane Van Essen, Mentee

Biography:

Diane Van Essen was born and raised near Picture Butte, AB on a mixed crop farm. Her first experience with cattle was when she began working at Picture Butte Auction Market at age 14. The auction career grew from there, transferring to Brooks, Strathmore and now Calgary with TEAM Auction Sales. In addition to the auction market world, she was able to spend some years working for a local feedlot, gaining knowledge areas including feedlot health, cattle rations, feeding management, cattle contracting and carcass data tracing.

Diane currently works for TEAM Auction Sales and is responsible for live online sales as well as listing cattle for their weekly Friday feeder sale. She is enthusiastic about marketing cattle, how to assist the producer in getting the most money for their product and reducing cost of gain for industry members every step of the production line. She is looking forward to making new connections through the CYL Program and gaining knowledge on ideal marketing times, techniques and practices.

Ryan Copithorne, Mentor

Biography:

Ryan Copithorne's career has involved managing and operating a large historic family ranch of which he oversaw the expansion to multiple locations involving cattle feeding and finishing. He was later involved in designing and building one of Canada's largest cow-calf programs as Cattle Director for an investor-owned multi-ranch operation. He has been involved in production, cattle feeding, brokering and designing agricultural investment funds in the cattle sector. Ryan has spent a significant portion of his career working with indigenous people developing cattle operations on First Nations lands. He currently operates a market intelligence, risk management and consulting company for the cattle sector called Cows in Control Inc. located west of Calgary. Ryan is active in developing ranch and farmland investments. He is a director of the Western Stock Growers Association and Canadian Association for Farm Advisors. His passion is agriculture and primarily the cattle sector. Ryan has an MBA from Queen's School of Business, a finance degree, and over 25 years in the ranching and commodity business.




Emily Seed, Mentee

Biography:

Emily was raised on a purebred Charolais cow-calf operation in Earlton, Ontario. Growing up, she showed cattle with her family at local fairs and at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. This instilled a passion for 4-H and livestock in her from a young age. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in Animal Science. She now works as the Executive Director for the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance, overseeing the organization’s research and innovation projects focussed on advancing agriculture in Northern Ontario. Her and her husband are also in the process of succession planning to take over the farm from her parents.

Emily is excited to be a part of the 2021 CYL class and looks forward to networking and learning more about the beef industry.

Andrea De Groot, Mentor

Biography:

As a Business Advisor with Farm Credit Canada, Andrea specializes in farm and business transitions, providing clarity to family dynamics. With her experience in farm management, she collaborates with technical advisors to address business structure and facilitate conversations.

Andrea grew up on a small beef and crop farm in southern Ontario. After earning a degree in agriculture business at the University of Guelph, she worked in agriculture and commercial lending throughout Ontario. In addition, she served as Managing Director of the Ontario Pork Industry Council for four years.

Andrea and her husband own and operate their family hog and crop farm outside Stratford.




Holly Sparrow, Mentee

Biography:

Holly Sparrow developed her passion for beef cattle through her family's operation near Kelliher, Saskatchewan. Holly obtained a degree at the University of Saskatchewan majoring in Animal Science and is currently working for VBP+ Delivery Services Inc. and ranches alongside her husband on their mixed operation near Vanscoy, SK. Holly currently serves as Past President of the Young Cattlemen’s Council, is involved in the Sask Forage Council and is passionate about contributing to a sustainable environment while producing high quality beef. Holly looks forward to the future with her husband, as they are both dedicated to improving their operations.

Kelly Sidoryk, Mentor

Biography:

Kelly Sidoryk ranches with her family near Lloydminster, SK/AB. Over 25 years ago, they were introduced to Holistic Resource Management (as it was known at the time), a decision making/planning process that focusses on finances, land and people. The process had a significant impact on their operation as it transitioned to be a forage based, livestock enterprise. She completed the degree program through HRM with a focus on the people side. In addition to running their family business, she has worked with many farm families as they work on transitioning to the next generation. She also teaches Holistic Management Whole/Farm Ranch Planning courses –including goal setting, financial planning, land planning, grazing planning, strategic planning and succession planning. She is a certified educator with Holistic Management International (HMI). She is also on the HMI board, based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. In addition, Kelly works with a colleague and organizes local events including the Inspiring Women Conference, Cowgirl Yoga and Harvest Feastival – a local food event. She enjoys riding, travelling, writing and photography and being a new grandma to Bennett.




Janine Rubin, Mentee

Biography:

Janine grew up on a commercial and purebred Angus cow-calf operation (Upper Pine Red Angus) in Rose Prairie, BC. She was always very proud to be raised out in the country and on a farm. Some of her favorite memories growing up on the farm was going to check the cows on the back of the old farm truck and watching the new baby calves run around in springtime!

During her youth, she was an active 4-H beef member for eight years. She was very fortunate for all the opportunities that 4-H provided her. She was able to travel to various events throughout Canada which included the National 4-H Conference in Toronto, Ontario and the Provincial Public Speaking competition in Vanderhoof, BC where she placed second. She was also very lucky to be the recipient of two 4-H scholarships. She stays involved in 4-H by volunteering as a public speaking judge in her area which she very much enjoys.

She graduated from Olds College with her Administrative Assistant Certificate, a Diploma in Agricultural Business and a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Agribusiness. She has fifteen years of experience working in the agriculture industry. She has worked for various agricultural businesses including: Agricore, Agricore United, Rosehill Auction Service & Olds Auction Mart, Viterra, Cargill, Syngenta Crop Protection, Douglas Lake Ranch, TD Agricultural Services, Bayer CropScience, Richardson Pioneer and currently is a Program Representative for the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

Presently, she lives with her husband and young daughter in Fort St. John, BC. They enjoy helping out on the family farm in their spare time and on weekends. The young family hopes to move to the country in the near future and plan to be involved as producers.

Janine is very excited and thankful for the opportunity to be involved in the CYL Program and is looking forward to all the learning and networking that will take place!

Jodie Griffin, Mentor

Biography:

Jodie currently is the Program Coordinator for the Livestock Price Insurance program delivered through the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation. She has been in this role for the past eight years. Prior to her current role, Jodie spent 16 years in cattle finance, working with two of the largest cattle finance companies in Canada. In 2008, Jodie began her own venture, Western Direct Livestock Marketing, providing cattle financing and marketing services. Jodie assisted producers with navigating alternative marketing opportunities and was a Consultant for Northwest Consolidated Beef, assisting producers in marketing fed cattle.

Jodie’s passion and dedication to the cattle industry runs deep within her. She and her husband Scott, ranch SW of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They run 200 cows and a yearling grazing program.

Jodie’s most recent accolade is being the recipient of the 2020 Deputy Ministers Award of Excellence. She also was the founder of the Cattlewomen for the Cure, an annual golf tournament fundraiser for various organizations.

When Jodie is not traveling with work or ranching at home, she loves her time spent with her three precious grandchildren (soon to be four) and avidly participates in the sport of barrel racing.




Julia Flinton, Mentee

Biography:

Julia Flinton grew up in the heart of the Cariboo in Williams Lake, BC. A third-generation cattle farmer and resident of Williams Lake, she currently lives in Williams Lake with her husband Anthony, daughter, Eilidh and son, Keane.

After spending ten years in Saskatchewan pursuing her hockey career and obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from the University of Saskatchewan, Julia moved home to Williams Lake to be closer to family. After seven years with the BC Wildfire Service, Julia and her husband Anthony welcomed their daughter Eilidh in March 2019, who is now two.

After having her daughter, Julia decided to focus more on her career and passion for agriculture, specifically cattle farming. In May 2020, she obtained a position with the Williams Lake First Nation as Rights and Title Coordinator.

While working full-time, Julia also helps with the 150 Mile Ranch, owned by the Williams Lake First Nation and managed by her mother-in-law, June and her father, Hugh Flinton, who owns and operates Peka Enterprises. Both operations are about 35 cow-calf pairs.

In the last year, Julia started a new 4H club within the community. Williams Lake First Nation 4H Club, based out of the 150 Mile Ranch, enables both First Nations and non-First Nations youth to participate in the program. In 2021, the youth participate in projects such as sheep, swine and beef. The First Nations youth can participate no matter what their home situation may be, by housing their animals at the 150 Mile Ranch in a cohort situation.

Julia and her husband, Anthony, started their own herd of beef cattle and are slowly growing their numbers year by year.

Julia is excited to be a finalist in the CYL Program and cannot wait for the next nine months!

Judy Guichon, Mentor

Biography:

Judy Guichon, along with her four children, own Gerard Guichon Ranch in the Nicola Valley in the British Columbia Interior. The Guichon’s use a holistic management approach on the ranch and are two-time environmental stewardship award winners. Today, the two eldest children manage the ranch that runs cow-calf pairs and yearlings.

In addition to her years successfully ranching in the Nicola Valley, from 2012-2018, Guichon served as the 29th Lieutenant Governor of BC working as the Queen’s representative to the province.

Guichon has also served in numerous industry leadership roles such as President of the BC Cattlemen’s Association from 2010-2012, Chair of the provincial Ranching Task Force and Chair of the Canadian Beef Industry Conference.




Laura Macrae, Mentee

Biography:

Dr. Laura Macrae (DVM) is located in Westlock, Alberta where she farms with her husband. She graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2013 and has spent the last nine years working for beef and dairy producers in Ontario and Alberta. Everyday, Laura enjoys teaming up with producers, helping them achieve production targets and improve overall herd health. She has enjoyed the opportunity to work in embryo transfer, cattle nutrition, and general large animal veterinary medicine. Laura’s dream is to have her own herd of cattle and supply beef locally.

Brendan Scholten, Mentor

Biography:

Brendan is a third-generation farmer who grew up on a farm west of Picture Butte, Alberta and currently operates a 2,500 head background feedlot operation with his brother, Wilf. He completed his degree in finance from the University of Lethbridge in 2000. Brendan lives on the farm with his wife, Jackie, and three children Shaun, Benjamin and Natalie. His passion for raising livestock started at young age when he purchased his first 50 head of grass cattle in high school and has been raising cattle ever since. Today, the operation consists of a backgrounding feedlot and owning cattle for slaughter in custom feed yards.

His brother Wilf manages the day-to-day operations of the feedlot, and Brendan manages all finances and works off farm with RBC Royal Bank. He started in the financial service industry in 2002 managing agricultural portfolio. He has experience in both primary agriculture and other industries that support agriculture. He joined RBC Royal Bank in 2019, managing a diversified portfolio of clients in feedlot operations and specialty crops. His role with RBC is to help clients reach their financial goals by providing financial advice and risk assessment.

Brendan is involved in local school board and other local committees. He enjoys spending time with family, playing hockey and golfing in the summer.




Laura Scott, Mentee

Biography:

Raised on her family’s cow-calf and cash crop operation just South of Ottawa, Ontario, Laura calls Oxford Mills home. Her family currently runs a cow-calf operation of 30 purebred Limousin and Limousin influence females. Laura grew up in the 4-H program and the Canadian Junior Limousin program, keen to compete in local fairs and Junior shows across the country. After graduating the University of Guelph in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics, Laura returned to the area to help run the family farm. She currently works as a Certified Crop Advisor for a local input company.

While the show cattle have offered her numerous opportunities to network and meet people from around the world, it also offered her the CYL Program. A former CYL grad and friend whom Laura met through the Limousin breed introduced her to the program and the endless possibilities it could extend to her.

Laura and her family have been focusing heavily on Purebred Limousin genetics and developing their herd the last few years, however Laura’s taken an interest in beef processing and the added value it can offer. Laura’s delighted to have been selected as one of the 2021/2022 CYL finalists and can’t wait for the opportunities and the challenges this program will offer!

Jaclyn Wilson, Mentor

Biography:

Jaclyn Wilson returned home after attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2002 to become the fifth generation on Wilson Ranch, a commercial red angus/red composite operation at Lakeside, NE that was founded by her family in 1888. In 2011, she started Flying Diamond Genetics a recipient (recip) business and in 2019 Flying Diamond Beef, a ranch to plate, direct market beef business.

She has served or is serving on:

  • Nebraska Cattlemen’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee
  • Nebraska Agriculture Leadership Council (LEAD Program Board of Directors) culminating as Chair
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Young Beef Leader (steering committee and advisory group) and Resolution Committee member, Chair and Vice Chair.
  • NCBA’s Board of Directors Policy Division and is the current Vice Chair of International Trade
  • Nebraska Brand Committee
  • Senator Deb Fischer’s Ag Round Table
  • Congressman Adrian Smith’s Ag Advisory Committee
  • Governor Pete Ricketts’ Ag Advisory Committee
  • Nebraska Humanities Council
  • Security First Bank Board of Directors

Her international experiences include:

  • Nebraska LEAD Program representative to Russia, Ukraine, and Poland
  • Nebraska representative on Rotary International Group Study Exchange to Santa Catarina, Brasil
  • US Beef Industry Representative for Cargill’s 150th Anniversary Learning Journey to China
  • NCBA’s Young Leader representative to the Seven Nations Beef Alliance in Taupo, New Zealand

Her most notable speaking opportunities include:

  • American Akaushi Annual Convention, Texas
  • Range Beef Cow Symposium, Colorado and Nebraska
  • Leader Bitterroot Ag Writer’s Workshop, California
  • Sharing our Diversity and Unity, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
  • Keynote Speaker- Nebraska Youth Beef Leaders-University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Sheridan College Ranch Sustainability Forum, Wyoming
  • Farm Credit Knowledge Center, Virginia

Jaclyn was named a 2016 Farm Journal Media 40 Under 40 in Agriculture Award winner and was included in the book Generations on the Land.

In addition to her work in ranching and the beef industry, Jaclyn writes editorials for five different weekly and biweekly publications that circulate to over 50,000 producers throughout the Midwest.




Logan Houff, Mentee

Biography:

Logan was immersed in the cattle industry at birth being born and raised in a livestock auction market (Rockin’ R) in Medicine Hat, AB. His passion for the cattle was developed at a young age; he was taught his breeds of cattle before his colors. Logan’s journey led him to graduating from Medicine Hat College as an Environmental Reclamation Technician in 2012, where he then worked as an environmental scientist until 2014.

Realizing that there was a desire for Logan to have a career agriculture, he moved to Eston, SK where he worked for a family friend as a farm equipment operator and assisted with the farm’s agronomy. The goal of starting a business within the cattle industry was set shortly after moving to Eston, with the burning passion for cattle still flowing through him from the days at the Rockin’ R in his childhood. He and his wife, Mari, saved to purchase a property near Eston where they started their calf backgrounding operation and long yearling program with just a handful calves.

Logan and Mari and their two children (Harden and Isla) now custom background 500 calves, and feed 300 cows, as well grassing around 200 yearlings.

Logan is excited to be selected for the CYL Mentorship Program. He is looking forward to networking with industry leaders and is hoping to advance his knowledge in agri-business and agri-finance to better growing and sustain his and his wife’s business for future generations.

Pat Hayes, Mentor

Biography:

Pat Hayes operates a third generation ranching operation in Southwest Saskatchewan, where they run backgrounder and grasser cattle. Most years, steers are sold off grass in August or September, where they also finish cattle for slaughter as the markets dictate. Pat has been heavily involved in provincial and national cattle organizations for a number of years. He currently serves as Canadian Cattle Identification Agency Chair, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s Animal Health Committee Co-Chair, and serves on the board of the local ambulance. His passions include conserving native grasslands and contributing to building a profitable and sustainable beef industry for future generations.




Melissa Gablehaus, Mentee

Biography:

Melissa currently resides north of Westlock, Alberta where she farms with her fiancé and his family. They run a large dairy operation and Melissa has the privilege of being a first-generation cow-calf producer. Among her herd, she is experimenting with a variety of different breeds, trying to decide on which breed is more suitable for the colder temperature of central Alberta and breeding for qualities to improve hybrid vigor. She is also very passionate about genetics, which shows in her purebred herd of speckle parks. Off the farm, Melissa is in her fourth and final year in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the University of Calgary. Upon graduation, she hopes to become certified in embryo transfer and IVF technology. She would like to incorporate these skills into the mixed animal practice where she will be working.

Melissa is very honoured to be chosen as a finalist in the Cattlemen’s Young Leader’s program. She is looking forward to networking with fellow CYL finalists and individuals from the industry. Her goals in this program are to gain more of an understanding of feedlot management and nutrition and to gain more appreciation for the veterinarian-producer relationship. She wants to be able to work together with producers in the future to develop lasting connections and shared decision making. Along the way, she is also hoping to pick up pointers on developing and expanding her cow-calf operation.

John McKinnon, Mentor

Biography:

John is originally from Manitoba. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree from the University of Manitoba in 1978. Upon graduation, he was employed as a Cattle Buyer with Canada Packers, training in Winnipeg and subsequently moving to buying stations in Brandon, Manitoba and North Battleford, Saskatchewan. In 1982, he enrolled in a Master of Science program at the University of Saskatchewan graduating in 1986. Concurrently, he spent two years as a Beef Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture (1984-1986). In 1986, he was hired as a Research Fellow and Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan, graduating in 1992. Subsequently he was appointed Professor and Saskatchewan Beef Industry Chair in the Department of Animal Science, a position he held for almost 30 years, retiring in 2019. During his tenure at the University, he carried out research on cow-calf and feeding management, as well as roles in teaching and extension. Currently, John operates a nutrition consulting business in Saskatoon, SK where he lives with his wife, Evelyn.




Nikki Olson, Mentee

Biography:

Nikki farms with her husband, Tyler, and his family, just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. Her love of agriculture began at an early age while growing up on her parent’s farm near Calgary, Alberta. She grew up on a mixed farm and really started getting involved when she started 4H. Nikki was an avid 4H member for 10 years where she was successful with public speaking, various beef projects, along with cooking and photography.

When attending college, Nikki was active serving on multiple school boards, volunteering and representing the Aggies Club as VP and President during her 2 years at Olds College. After graduation, Nikki worked for two years before starting her own agronomy company.

While running her agronomy business, Nikki began taking on a bigger role on farm and has now started taking over management of the cattle herd shared between her, her husband and her in-laws. They have a small herd of Shorthorn/Angus cross pairs. She is also an active member on the Agri-Trade Advisory Committee.

Nikki is thrilled to have been selected to take part in the CYL Program. She is excited to be more actively involved in the industry and to create more connections with her fellow finalists and industry mentors. She is looking forward to the opportunity to expand her knowledge and bring more value to the farm.

Kelly Smith-Fraser, Mentor

Biography:

Kelly was born and raised in agriculture, growing up on her family’s mixed beef and grain farm in central Alberta. After graduating from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, she returned to Alberta to run the family’s purebred cattle operation and assist with their livestock genetics exporting company. Kelly and her family operate NuHaven Cattle Co at Pine Lake, AB while maintaining her passion for agriculture and the youth of the industry through her involvement in industry organizations. In 2019, Kelly became the first female Chair of Alberta Beef Producers in the organization’s 50-year history. Currently, she is a board member of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Foundation and Careers: The Next Generation. In the Fall of 2021, Kelly was appointed to the Board Chair position of AFSC.




Rheanne Ritchie, Mentee

Biography:

Rheanne Ritchie was born and raised on a small hobby farm in Olds, AB. After completing her primary education, she completed a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree at the University of Calgary in Zoology, and Environmental Sciences, respectively. Shortly after, she met her husband and settled in Didsbury, AB where they are now part of a third generation, centennial family farm. After she finished her initial degrees, she knew she still wanted to have a primary role in agriculture and wanted to be involved in the cattle industry. This led her to applying to veterinary school, where she was accepted and is currently in her final year.

Rheanne and her husband have a herd of commercial Red and Black Angus cattle, and have a moderately sized farm dedicated to grain and hay. Over the next several years, they hope to continue growing their commercial herd and expand operations on the farm. Rheanne hopes to work within the community as a veterinarian and has high hopes of being a leader within the community, while establishing meaningful and lasting relationships with clients and producers in the area. Rheanne’s focus in her career will be as a mixed animal veterinarian, but with a primary interest in bovine. She hopes to establish relationships with the clients within her community and producers where she can learn to navigate current and future industry challenges in a collaborative fashion.

The CYL Program had been something that Rheanne has been interested in for some time, especially after having several friends participate in the program and speak of the amazing opportunities to network, collaborate and learn. Rheanne is looking forward to all the program has to offer and taking what she’s learned into her career as a veterinarian.

Dr. Egan Brockhoff, Mentor

Biography:

Dr. Egan Brockhoff is a strong advocate of the veterinary profession, agriculture and agribusiness. He and his family operate a third-generation mixed farm in central Alberta. He is an experienced practicing swine veterinarian and University Lecturer. Until 2021, he was the President and Managing Partner at Prairie Swine Health Services in Red Deer, Alberta. In 2010, he began providing swine consulting services in Southeast Asia focusing on veterinary training, disease management and control, as well as enhancing biosecurity capacity. In 2014, he joined the Canadian Pork Council as a consultant and today serves as their Veterinary Counselor. In 2020 he was the recipient of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations, Merck Veterinary Award for Food Animal Veterinarian of the Year.

Currently, he serves as the Chair of the Canadian African Swine Fever Compartmentalization Working Group and the National Biosecurity Standard Working Group. In September of 2021, he was honored to have received the Allen D. Leman Science in Practice Award at the Leman Swine Conference.




Tia Schram, Mentee

Biography:

Tia Schram is a 21-year-old beef producer from north central Alberta. Alongside her family, Tia helps operate North Hill Simmentals; a 500 head cow-calf operation with a focus on longevity and quality beef production. Growing up, Tia was actively involved with the Simmental and Angus breed associations throughout her time exhibiting cattle across the country. Today, Tia remains an advocate for junior programming, and continues to pour her heart and soul into the purebred side of their operation. She is very excited to continue to grow their brand as they acquire more Charolais genetics.

Tia is currently enrolled in her final year of her undergraduate degree at Concordia University of Edmonton where she is pursuing her Bachelor of Management with a marketing emphasis. Her passion for marketing stems from the agriculture industry and the relationship-based style she experienced growing up. Upon graduation, Tia plans to implement further business practices into their current farming operation. As well as, furthering her education at the graduate level. In addition to her passion for agriculture, Tia finds herself invested in veterinary medicine and the importance of quality practice management. She plans to continue working alongside her veterinarian and mother to serve their clients to the best of their ability.

Tia is extremely pleased to be selected as a 2021 CYL finalist and looks forward to learning, networking, and serving the beef industry.

Mike Panasiuk, Mentor

Biography:

Mike Panasiuk is the owner and founder of Springside Farms, located in Central Alberta which specializes in the production of purebred Charolais breeding stock. With over 38 years in the purebred cattle industry, he is an expert in the field of Canadian beef genetics. Mike is actively involved in promoting the Charolais breed as well as Canadian beef through his annual sales, cattle exhibitions and youth mentorship.

Springside Farms consisted of over 300 breeding females, from which they offer an annual selection of females and bulls for sale. Each year, his farm boasts one of the highest grossing bull sales in the country, falling in the top 5 highest averaging bull sales within the Charolais breed for the last six years in a row.

Mike is actively involved in promoting the Charolais breed and has exhibited his cattle across the country. In doing so he has established valuable relationships with cattle producers from all over the world including the USA, Australia and Mexico. Year after year, Springside Farms genetics are the frontrunners, having raised several national champion bulls and females. Mike has imported and exported genetics as far as Mexico and Australia, and was asked to judge the National Charolais Show in Guadalajara, Mexico this past year.

Youth in agriculture is a high priority for Mike. Each year he has included several youth members on his team in order to promote agriculture as a viable career opportunity to Canadian youth. Mike has been apart of the Youth Employment and Skills Program and is excited to be a part of the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program this year. He believes it is important to pass on the knowledge he has gained throughout his career, but recognizes the importance of having a fresh perspective and outlook brought by youth.




Victor Drury, Mentee

Biography:

Born and raised on his father’s beef farm outside of Wakefield in Western Quebec, Victor took an interest in farming at a young age. Since receiving his degree in Mining Engineering at Queen’s University in 2009, he has been working full- time on the farm. In 2017, he bought a farm neighboring the homestead and built his home where he lives with his wife and three children. He raises his own crossbred Red Angus herd, while also managing his father’s beef herd. The animals are rotationally grazed and the calves are sold as yearlings in the spring.

Graeme Finn, Mentor

Biography:

Graeme and his wife, Heather, and their two young daughters, Claire and Morgan, currently run Southern Cross Livestock - A beef operation near Madden, Alberta. They manage a cow-calf operation with a focus on year-round grazing both high legume pastures and annual crop grazing. They have been successful in incorporating intensive rotational grazing and winter grazing strategies into the management system. Graeme has been living in Canada 29 years after moving from Queensland, Australia and has been involved with some of his mentors for most of that time, mentors like Doug Wray, Jim Bauer, Grant Lastiwka and members of the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association (FFGA). Southern Cross Livestock was chosen to be one of the pilot ranchers for the McDonald - Cargill sustainability pilot program, which turned into the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) in which he is still heavily involved in to this day.

Graeme was past Vice President on the Agricultural Research Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) board and sits on the Research Advisory Committee of the Alberta Beef Producers. He serves as a Director on the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), is the CRSB Research Committee Chairman, is involved in the UK and Canada Agri-Food Research Council and is a mentor in the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program and mentor of the BCRC researcher mentorship program. Graeme is also a past Director on the board of FFGA, and is on the Calgary Stampede International Agriculture Committee. Graeme is Founder and President of Union Forage which is a cover crop and perennial forage seed company that also mentors and trains its customers in regenerative grazing management.

His passion is looking at new ways to do things and finding ways to be profitable, both by cutting the bottom line, as well as looking outside the box to improve profit margin and run a beyond sustainable cattle grazing operation, as well as improving the soil and environment they work with on their operation.

Graeme has been involved in the agricultural industry in his capacity as a Director with the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF), FFGA, BCRC, CRSB and ARECA to try and help advance agriculture in any way. He is always willing to lend a hand and keen to talk anything grass to people.


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