Participant Spotlight

2022
Austin Ashbacher , Mentee
Jeff & Lynsay Smith, Mentor
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Danika Mayer , Mentee
Sandra Vos, Mentor
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Gleise Medeiros da Silva , Mentee
Anne Wasko, Mentor
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Stefan Bouw , Mentee
Jerry Doan, Mentor
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Raelynn Blumhagen , Mentee
Brad Osadczuk, Mentor
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Carling Matejka , Mentee
Amie Peck, Mentor
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Delanie Ferguson , Mentee
Clinton Monchuck, Mentor
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Jill Renton , Mentee
Andrea Stroeve-Sawa, Mentor
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Madi Lewis , Mentee
Jack Chaffe, Mentor
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Nicky Nixdorff , Mentee
Sheila Jensen, Mentor
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Heath Ferguson , Mentee
Bruce Niznik, Mentor
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Morgan Kitchen , Mentee
John & Deanne Chuiko, Mentor
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Holly McGill , Mentee
Shannon Borden, Mentor
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James Kinley , Mentee
Shylo Penrod, Mentor
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Russell Gallelli , Mentee
Mike Panasiuk, Mentor
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Tyson Ringdal , Mentee
Gord Roger, Mentor
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Austin Ashbacher, Mentee

Biography:

Austin Ashbacher was born and raised on the prairies of Alberta, influenced by a little bit of everything agriculture and cattle related. He graduated high school, travelled to Australia and completed an Agriculture Business degree from the University of Alberta. Having grown up on a primarily beef farm, Austin returned to his family farm to pursue a farming career. Now with his wife, parents and two young daughters, he avidly works to expand, diversify and develop their family farm. They desire to make the farm sustainable for the next generation. He still has his hands in a little bit of everything with Ashbacher Land and Cattle ranging from beef cattle to rodeo stock, cash crops, cover crops, cattle grazing practices, purebred Simmentals and backgrounding feeders. Austin is heavily involved in his community and actively seeks to learn from those around him.

Jeff & Lyndsay Smith, Mentors

Biography:

Jeff Smith is the General Manager at Gateway Livestock Exchange based in Taber, Alberta. He has been in the livestock marketing industry since 2001, with much of that spent in finished cattle studying and analyzing carcass performance. Jeff graduated from Lethbridge College with a diploma in Computer Information Technology. He sits on a number of boards within the industry including the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association, Canada Beef, Alberta Livestock Dealers and Order Buyers, and the Forty Mile Feeder Association.

Lyndsay owns Prime Analytics providing contract employment. Since 2009, her contracts have been in the beef industry including market analysis, risk management, project management, software development and data analysis. Currently, she is completing a Certificate in Business Intelligence from the University of Calgary. Lyndsay graduated from Lakeland College with a Herd Health Diploma and from Olds College with an Applied Degree in Agriculture. Lyndsay is also a graduate of the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program.




Danika Mayer, Mentee

Biography:

Danika Mayer feels extremely privileged to have been selected as a finalist for the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders mentorship program. Despite not having been born into a farming family, Danika has been involved in agriculture for the better part of her life. She grew up in L'Orignal, Ontario where she took horseback riding lessons at a farm down the road. This farm also included poultry and sheep which sparked her love for farm animals. Danika and her family moved to a hobby farm when she was around 12 years old, and she finally had the chance to own horses and other farm animals. The first bovine on the hobby farm may not have been a beef breed, but Danika’s love for cattle flourished from here. A local farmer approached her to show his purebred Simmental calves in her local 4H club and she has been hooked ever since. With the help of her boyfriend, John, they currently calve out 20 head of purebred Simmentals, produce seed stock for their commercial and purebred clients, and have plans to expand their operation. Danika works as a Registered Practical Nurse at a local rural hospital and hopes to eventually be able to farm full-time. As a CYL finalist, she hopes to make lasting friendships and feels extremely fortunate to have already met so many like-minded individuals from across the country.

Sandra Vos, Mentor

Biography:

Sandra Vos runs a small 80-acre cow-calf beef farm in Brant County, Ontario. She graduated with a MSc in Nursing from Western University and worked in a number of health care and health promotion fields before embarking on this mid career change. Her focus is working with the farm’s environment to increase pasture productivity, soil health and above and below ground biodiversity.

As a media spokesperson for a variety of Canadian and provincial beef organizations, she champions the relevance of cattle and the importance of grassland grazing. She sits on a number of local and provincial agricultural committees, and is asked to bring an agricultural perspective to non-farming groups for planning purposes. As the agriculture base shrinks in her area, building links between urban and rural residents becoming a greater focus of her grassroots advocacy work.




Gleise Medeiros da Silva, Mentee

Biography:

Dr. Gleise M. da Silva obtained her B.Sc. in Animal Science at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (Brazil; 2015). In 2012, she attended Texas A&M University as an exchange undergraduate student and in 2014, she completed an internship at the North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida (United States). Dr. Silva obtained an M.Sc. (2017) and Ph.D. (2021) in Animal Science at the University of Florida, with a focus on beef cattle nutrition and production. In August 2021, Dr. Silva joined the Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta as an Assistant Professor and the BCRC Hays Chair in Beef Production Systems. Her research goals are to identify nutritional and management strategies able to enhance the productivity and sustainability of the beef cattle sector.

Anne Wasko, Mentor

Biography:

Anne Wasko has been a market analyst for over 35 years focusing on the Canadian cattle and beef industry. She is the Market Analyst for Gateway Livestock based in Taber, Alberta. Anne operates Cattle Trends Inc, a consulting company for cattle market intelligence. She is a regular contributor to RealAgriculture.com and RealAg Radio on Sirius. Prior to Gateway Livestock, Anne was the Senior Market Analyst with Canfax for 21 years. Anne’s early employment years also included Alberta Beef Producers (formerly ACC) and the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association. Anne is the past Chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Anne was a board member on the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a member of the Canadian Beef Advisors, sat on the Saskatchewan ADF Advisory committee and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Board.

Anne’s volunteer work includes various mentorship programs, both formal and informal, for several individuals and she loves keeping up-to-date with them. She also volunteered for 20 years at the Calgary Stampede. Anne and her husband, Barry, operate Bar 4 Bar Land & Cattle Inc in Eastend, SK, a commercial cow-calf operation. It is a popular place, especially in the summer, for their 10 grandchildren to enjoy. Anne enjoys golfing and travel when time allows.




Stefan Bouw, Mentee

Biography:

Stefan was raised on a feedlot operation in the small town of Anola, just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has always had a passion for the cattle industry, and his parents taught him the value of combining a thirst for knowledge with hard work and passion. Stefan received a diploma in Agriculture from the University of Manitoba while also playing Volleyball for the University of Manitoba team. During that time, he also married his wife Kendra and has since been blessed with four children - Jaxon (13), Mikaya (11), Alexa (9) and Micah (7).

Twenty years ago, the Bouw family shifted operations with the start of a purebred Angus herd - Edie Creek Angus. Alongside his dad and brother, the third-generation farm now has an annual bull sale, where they sell two-year-old bulls and bred heifers. Their breeding program centres around maternal traits, with fertility and longevity in low input, forage-based systems being focal points.

2022 saw an expansion of the Edie Creek Angus breeding program with the purchase of the Howrey Angus cow herd in Sterling, North Dakota. The Howrey Angus herd will remain in North Dakota, and a second annual bull sale will be held there in the future.

Stefan continues to be an active participant in opportunities that expand his knowledge of the industry. Having taken the Holistic Management course, he uses its principles to ensure that business decisions benefit his family, the community, biodiversity and profitability.

Jerry Doan, Mentor

Biography:

Jerry and his wife Renae own and operate Black Leg Ranch along with their family in North Dakota. 

The ranch was homesteaded in 1882 by Jerry’s Great Grandfather in what was then Dakota Territory.

They use Holistic Management to operate their ranch regenerating the natural resources and allowing wildlife to flourish. They have made huge strides in improving the soil health of their cropland and native rangeland while improving the bottom line and quality of life for their family. 

Jerry and his family operate Rolling Plains Adventures, a full service, hunting operation, Black Leg Events, an Agri-Tourism operation on the ranch, Black Leg Ranch Meats, offering consumers Audubon certified bird friendly beef and bison products, and Black Leg Brewery, a brewery located on the ranch using local ingredients. These ventures have allowed them to spread a positive message about agriculture to thousands of consumers, including people from all 50 states and 40 foreign countries.

The ranch is a living classroom for many soil health and grazing tours, as well as University students and others wanting to learn from across the globe.

Jerry is currently chairman of the N.D. Grazing lands Coalition and a mentor. He is also Governor appointed to the N.D. Natural Resources Trust board. He is a board member of Partnerscape and an advisory board member of the Nature Conservancy. Jerry is also past chairman of the N.D. Ag Coalition, past chairman of the N.D. Beef Commission, past chairman of the N.D. State Board of Ag Research and Education, past chairman of Rural Leadership N.D., and a past board member of the N.D. Stockmen’s Association and the National Livestock and Meat Board. He has been a 4-H leader for over four decades.

He has been awarded the Burleigh County Soil Health Award, the N.D. NRCS Award, the N.D. Inaugural Leopold Award, the N.D. Environmental Stewardship Award, the Region VII Environmental Stewardship Award, and the National Environmental Stewardship Award. Jerry has also been awarded as one of the top 100 fresh perspectives in the nation by Farm Credit Services, The Harvest Bowl Agri- Business Award by N.D.S.U., The RLND Leadership Award, and was awarded the National Outstanding Young Farmer Award. Black Leg Ranch was inducted in 2020 into the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame. Jerry has been very active on a state and national level as a strong advocate for agriculture.




Raelynn Blumhagen, Mentee

Biography:

Raelynn was born and raised in Jaffray BC, a small town where her family has been running a cow-calf operation for five generations. She has always loved the cattle industry and is currently living on the ranch with her husband Dale and her two daughters. They live on the ranch and work alongside her mom and dad and her siblings. Raelynn also holds the brand inspector position for that area, a position that was held by her uncle before her and her grandpa before him. Raelynn briefly left the ranch to attend college where she majored in business finance. Raelynn is currently serving on multiple boards throughout her community and is enjoying becoming more involved and learning more.

Raelynn is honoured to have been selected as one of the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders finalists and is looking forward to making more connections throughout the industry and expanding her knowledge of the industry through this program.

Brad Osadczuk, Mentor

Biography:

Brad Osadczuk is a third-generation rancher, born and raised near Jenner, Alberta. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for 27 years and they have three daughters. After high school, Brad attended Olds College for two years before returning home to the ranch. In 1996, Brad and Elaine bought five quarters of their own land to start a ranch. As a lot of young people started out doing, Brad and his wife worked off the ranch to supplement their income. What was intended to be a 10-year career in the oil and gas industry, turned into 19 years because of the BSE crisis. While cattle prices were relatively low, some opportunity was found to increase the cattle numbers. In 2012, Brad decided to put the oil and gas career behind him and ranch full time. While taking risks and studying the cattle industry closely, Brad was able to acquire more land and increase the inventory of his herd. Brad’s love for the agriculture industry led him to get involved in his community as a councillor for the Special Areas Board, as well as sitting on the Ag Service Board. Brad has been very involved in the cattle industry, sitting as a board member with the Canadian Cattle Association, and as a past delegate, director, and finance chair with the Alberta Beef Producers. He’s involved in both of his local community pastures, having been president of the Buffalo-Atlee Grazing Association and a former board member for the Suffield Grazing Co-op. Brad’s passion for the industry has created many opportunities to meet new people and networking avenues that have helped him with his own cattle business.




Carling Matejka, Mentee

Biography:

Carling Matejka grew up on a purebred red and black Angus seedstock operation just outside of Ponoka, Alberta. She had always dreamed about becoming a mixed animal veterinarian to advocate for and help animals. While working on her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Alberta, she was accepted into the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine program. After her graduation in 2018, she moved back to her family farm and worked in a mixed animal practice for three years. In 2021, Carling moved to Calgary and works at Fen Vet as a mixed animal veterinarian, mentor and student externship coordinator. In her spare time, Carling does additional shifts at a small animal emergency hospital. 

She has always been very involved in her family farm and still does the majority of the veterinary work including pregnancy testing, vaccination planning, semen testing and individual animal exams. Carling was selected by the Canadian Agriculture Minister to be a part of the inaugural Canadian Agriculture Youth Council. This is a group of young Canadians that provide advice, enable ongoing dialogue on food-related challenges and opportunities, and advise on the strengths and weaknesses of policies and programs affecting the agriculture industry. Carling is still involved as a volunteer with 4-H and junior livestock programs. 

Carling enjoys socializing with friends and family, powerlifting, CrossFit, golfing and skiing outside of work.

Amie Peck, Mentor

Biography:

Amie leads the Public and Stakeholder Engagement (PSE) team, which works to increase public trust in the Canadian beef industry by supporting industry synergies, forming strategic partnerships and connecting positively with consumers and the public. This includes addressing industry issues by coordinating key messages and specific responses together with provincial and industry organizations. Promotional content and campaigns are also developed that highlight the benefits of beef production in Canada. 

Amie brings a broad range of skills in marketing, communications and project management in various agriculture roles. Prior to joining the Canadian Cattle Association, Amie was the Western Canadian Marketing Specialist for global animal nutrition company Alltech, leading the development of strategies, campaigns and events across the prairies.

Her love of agriculture, and specifically the beef industry, was grown through a role at Diamond 7 Ranch, a cow-calf operation west of Calgary, AB. In a position that mixed marketing and administration duties with boots-on-the-ground work, she became invested and passionate about the future of Canadian beef production.




Delanie Ferguson, Mentee

Biography:

Delanie grew up east of Crossfield, Alberta on a purebred cow-calf operation. This operation consists of purebred Hereford, Angus and a few commercial cattle. Her passion for the beef industry started at an early age on her family ranch while helping with the daily chores and developed further as she went through the 4-H program. Delanie was an active 4-H member for 11 years where she held multiple titles including Calgary Region Ambassador and District Key Member. 

Throughout her time in 4-H and junior and breed shows, she acquired a passion for the genetics side of purebred cattle operations and the process of feeding cattle. This led Delanie to achieve a Diploma in Agriculture Management, majoring in marketing, at Olds College, as well as become a certified AI Technician. Currently, Delanie is the Territory Sales Representative for DCL, where she supports customers in solution-based animal health and feed products. 

Delanie, along with her husband and their three dogs, run their own small cow-calf operation east of Carstairs, AB. She also sits on the Alberta Young Farmers and Ranchers board, planning their 2023 Rock the Farm conference. In her spare time, Delanie is often giving back to the 4-H program by holding clipping, judging and showmanship clinics for local clubs, or judging and being a ring man for local shows in her area. When Delanie is not around cattle, you can find her camping, hiking, or horseback riding with her husband. 

Through the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program, Delanie hopes to learn more about better connecting youth and consumers to the beef industry and advocating for the education of where your food truly comes from. She is excited to get to know her colleagues better and wishes everyone well on their journey to graduating from this amazing program.

Clinton Monchuck, Mentor

Biography:

Clinton Monchuk grew up on a mixed dairy, beef and grain family farm outside of Lanigan, Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelors of Science in Agriculture majoring in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and Masters of Business Administration in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. Clinton has enjoyed numerous roles across Canada, the United States and Mexico as a researcher, educator, manager, economist and director of trade policy. 

In 2016, Clinton accepted the role of Executive Director with Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan to promote farming and ranching to consumers. Clinton understands the value of increasing public trust in agriculture and actively promotes engagement between the agriculture industry and consumers.

Clinton, Laura and their children Jackson and Katelyn, continue to be active partners on their family grain and layer farm in Saskatchewan and cattle ranch in Oklahoma.




Jill Renton, Mentee

Biography:

Jill Renton grew up on her family's beef farm just outside of Moncton, New Brunswick, quickly developing a passion for all things agriculture from a young age. Jill worked alongside her parents and siblings on the family's sixth generation maple syrup operation and commercial Limousin cattle farm, raising both feeder cattle and marketing beef direct to consumers. Jill participated in the local 4-H club throughout her eligible years, before attending college at NBCC for Graphic Design.

Combining creativity and agriculture, Jill launched her photography and design business quickly out of college, photographing many cattle and equine events in the Atlantic provinces, and in fall of 2018 joined the Showchampions photography team at Canadian Western Agribition. That week jump-started a dream of relocating to the west, and in March of 2019, Jill moved to Edmonton, Alberta, accepting a position with Direct Livestock Marketing Systems (DLMS) where she currently works as a Purebred Sales Rep. Finding home while on the road for work, Jill moved from the big city to the picturesque town of Cayley, Alberta where the quieter summer months are spent in the saddle, or with a camera in hand for fun. 

While not involved in the day-to-day operations of the family farm, Jill continues to keep a few cattle under her prefix with the Canadian Limousin Association and still manages to get her hands dirty helping out at friends' operations.

Andrea Stroeve-Sawa, Mentor

Biography:

Andrea Stroeve-Sawa (Holtman) was raised in Taber, AB on her family’s feedlot Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd. While always maintaining a connection to the cattle feeding industry, she was off farm for 15 years. In 2013, Andrea made the decision to go back to her roots and continue her family’s cattle feeding legacy at Shipwheel. Andrea is the fourth generation of the Holtman family to own/operate Shipwheel Cattle Feeders Ltd. Currently, this operation includes a yearling grazing program, 5500 head feedlot, cropland, bees and producing honey, pasture raised chickens, the production of various forms of compost and is home to the Green Mercantile; a small on farm store featuring products produced at Shipwheel and goods created by other local artisans. 

Aside from her job managing the feedlot, Andrea holds a position representing the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) and serves on the Council of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB). Andrea really enjoys her time on CRSB council as it fuels her desire to work together with the entire beef supply chain to further beef sustainability. In the last few years, Andrea has been involved in several other agriculture related projects; Bridging the Echo chambers, a project that delved into the debate about the impacts of livestock on the environment and creating a deeper understanding of food production through effective communication, informed decisions and mutual trust building. Andrea and her family were also the recipients of the 2021 Planet of Plenty award, an award to reward those who are furthering a world of abundance through nutritional and digital technologies, innovation and sustainable management practices in the agri-food sector. 

Since birth, Andrea has been immersed in using the principles of holistic management in operating this family farm/ranch. As Owner/Operator, she now faces the unique challenge of staying true to her operation's holistic goals in the present complex changing agricultural industry. Andrea enjoys public speaking, teaching curious learners and is passionate about finding the intersection between cattle, people and environmental sustainability, increasing the storage of carbon in her soil, using proper stockmanship to heal depressed immune systems and maintain healthy animals, inspiring bravery and collaboration in the ag industry and beyond, and leaving a legacy of construction, regeneration, and building up rather than degrading, destroying, or doing nothing.




Madi Lewis, Mentee

Biography:

Madi Lewis grew up in a small farming town called Meaford, Ontario and is enrolled at the University of Guelph in her final semester of her Bachelor of Science in Honours Agriculture. Previously, Madi achieved an Associate Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Guelph – Ridgetown Campus and looks forward to pursuing her Master of Science in Beef Nutrition upon completion of her Bachelor’s degree. Madi is an active member of the new Ontario Beef Youth Alliance and is very excited to be a 2022-2023 finalist of the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program. When she is not in school, Madi works as a Beef Nutrition Intern for Cargill Animal Nutrition and is very active within a purebred association. Madi recently graduated from the Canadian Junior Limousin Association, and Ontario Junior Limousin Association as well as the 4-H Beef Club, where she served several different roles such as president and treasurer over the past eight years. Madi enjoys showing cattle and being outdoors with her Australian Shepherd puppy, Jules.

Jack Chaffe, Mentor

Biography:

Jack grew up and still lives just north of Mitchell, Ontario in Perth County, on a beef feedlot, cash crop farm. Jack and his wife, Diane, have three sons Owen, Evan and Curtis. Jack is President/Co-owner of Chaffe Farms Ltd.; a family run beef feedlot operation in its fifth-generation feeding and marketing 3,000 cattle per year in Ontario through the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program since its early conception in 2001. Jack is involved in all aspects of the family business, from finances and herd health to the buying and selling of cattle and commodities. Chaffe Farms Ltd. also works with other Ontario producers placing out feeder cattle and calves for backgrounding under custom feeding agreements. Chaffe Farms Ltd. has also been backgrounding and finishing cattle in Western Canada since the early 80’s. Jack farms with his sons Owen and Curtis and brother Joe. Evan is also involved on the farm on weekends. Jack also helps manage 50 hd. of VBP plus commercial cows that his sons started as they graduated out of 4H. 

Jack’s philosophy on being profitable in the cattle industry is you have three opportunities to make money; the day you purchase the cattle (purchasing program), the way you feed your cattle (feeding program), and the day to sell your cattle (marketing program). You also must surround yourself with good people and the services that they can provide, such as lending institutions, veterinarians, truckers, nutritionists, order buyers, and custom feeders to mention a few. Chaffe Farms Ltd. have been acknowledged by the Limousin, Charolais, and Hereford breed associations as being a promoter of their breeds.

Jack has a Diploma in Agriculture Business Management and has taken many other short courses in Marketing and Production of Agricultural products to help manage the farming operation.

Jack is also into the cattle politics world with the following involvement: 

  • Beef Farmers of Ontario board for the last eight years and currently President
  • Ontario Cattle Feeders Board for the last 11 years and currently Vice-President
  • National Check-Off Agency Board last five years
  • Canada Beef Marketing Committee last five years
  • Canadian Cattle Association Director last three years
  • Canadian Beef Grading Agency Board last two years
  • Public Speaking training with Farm & Food Care
  • Beef Farmers of Ontario Leadership Build graduate



Nicky Nixdorff, Mentee

Biography:

Nicky grew up on a mixed farm northeast of Carbon, Alberta and attended the University of Alberta to complete her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Animal Science. During her Master’s, she studied the relationships between feed efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in beef cattle on pasture and in dry lot settings. She spent five years working with Vytelle as a Research Analyst and Product Manager. Nicky currently works with Elanco as a Ruminant Sales Representative in Southern Alberta. She also farms east of Airdrie, AB with her husband and family where they raise purebred Herefords and run a commercial cow-calf herd and grain farm.

Sheila Jensen, Mentor

Biography:

Sheila Jensen owns and operates Jensen Bros Herefords with her husband Kevin and their families.

The operation runs 350 cows in the spring calving season and 150 in the fall. An extensive ET program allows their operation to expand genetics with the use of co-op herds and the ranch’s commercial cow herd. 

The Jensen’s have an annual bull sale in March at the Ranch were they offer 100 bulls. The registered bulls are sold to numerous states to commercial and purebed seedstock breeders. The Jensen’s have a live female sale in October during the American Royal Hereford weekend offering all females and frozen genetics. Each spring, the fall-born heifer calf and frozen genetics sale is online in the first part of April each spring. Females selling from the west to east coast of the US. Herdbull semen are offered thoughout the year, where Sheila provides the release and bookkeeping on those accounts.

Sheila graduated from North Dakota State University with a Bachelors in Animal Science and was successful on the Meats and Livestock Judging Team. Sheila works with the social media sites, advertising in print magazines and catalog layouts. Keeping the registration and breeding records in order as well as the performance records on the myHerd program for the American Hereford Association is a major part of Sheila’s daily tasks. Sheila takes cattle photos for the bull sale catalog, donors and ranch scenes. She has set up the Jensen Bros website offering the latest news about the ranch, sale and show updates as well as current epd’s on the donors and herdbulls. Sheila is a livestock insurance agent for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and offers insurance for livestock and equine at sales and shows. Sheila is the Director and Treasurer for the Republic County Kansas Livestock Association where she organizes a steak supper, which is a fundraiser for scholarships for local 4-H’ers as well as the fairgrounds improvements. Sheila is on the Kansas State Fair 4-H Championship Grand Drive beef committee which results in planning, organizing, and fundraising for the Grand Drive. Working with the cow herd and show and sale cattle keeps Sheila busy while finding time for her three grand children.




Heath Ferguson, Mentee

Biography:

Heath grew up in a small town just outside Edmonton, AB. Growing up, his family had a small herd of Simmental/Saler cross cows and raised a few bottle calves every year with his brothers. In high school, he was in 4-H, green certificate and worked at the local packing plant, as well as helping the owner at his cow-calf operation, where he began to form his perspective on the cattle industry. After high school, he got his AI certificate and began working in reproduction as an AI technician. Heath would go on to work at auction marts, feedlots, cow-calf operations and a bull stud. The cattle industry is how he met his fiancé Alyea, as well as fellow CYL mentee Delanie (Knull) Ferguson who would eventually marry his brother. Family and the people that are involved in the cattle industry are incredibly important to Heath.

His experience working in various sectors of the cattle industry has helped him develop a start-to-finish understanding of beef production. His work has led him to find his passion for cattle genetics, especially in creating efficient commercial cow herds. Heath is currently working on getting his business diploma while working for a start-up company that aims to provide EPDs and genomic testing to crossbred cattle producers. In the future, he hopes to help producers reach their herd’s potential by educating them on the utility of technology and data management.

Heath found out about Canadian Cattle Young Leaders while attending Olds College. He is immensely grateful to be selected amongst the calibre of peers in the competition. The networks and relationships built through the program will greatly benefit him and his career.

Bruce Niznik, Mentor

Biography:

Bruce Niznik farms and ranches 12 miles west of Brooks, AB in Antelope Creek with his wife Jodi and three daughters. Bruce went to school in Brooks and attended Lethbridge College graduating with an Ag Tech Beef Management Diploma. He is the fourth generation on the farm working alongside his brother, dad, and uncle raising Black Angus cattle and crops on irrigated ground. They are also a producer partner with Brandt Lake Wagyu crossing their angus genetics with the wagyu. The only off farm influence in their cattle is their bull battery, and Bruce believes that carcass data is key to improving herd quality and sources out superior genetics. Bruce was a former Alberta Beef Producers delegate, was a guest speaker for Carcass 101, and a long-time board member of their local grazing association. Niznik Farms has proudly won the Calgary Stampede Farm Family Award, and most recently, the Certified Angus Beef Canadian Commitment to Excellence Award.




Morgan Kitchen, Mentee

Biography:

Morgan is a first-generation rancher who resides in Vanderhoof, BC with her husband Craig, and two young children Corbin and Maelyn. Morgan and her family run a commercial cow-calf operation, implementing regenerative agriculture practices with a focus on soil health and rotational grazing.

Passionate about agriculture, Morgan is “a lover of land and livestock” – she can always be found with her hands in the soil and out working with livestock (with her kiddos in tow!). Having grown up with horses in the Lower Mainland of BC, her journey into agriculture started while attending the University of the Fraser Valley and deepened through her agriculture consulting work.

Working as the Central/Northern BC Land Matcher for the BC Land Matching Program, Morgan supports farmers in finding land to lease for their agriculture business, matching them with landholders who have land to lease for farming activities.

Morgan is very excited to be a finalist and participate in the 2022-2023 Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program. As a first-generation rancher, she understands the importance of new and young cattle producers joining the industry. Morgan is excited to take everything she learns during her mentorship and share it with fellow cattle producers, encouraging them to get started, be involved and see success in their cattle operation!

John & Deanne Chuiko, Mentor

Biography:

John and Deanne Chuiko ranch North of St. Walburg, Saskatchewan along with their two children, Matt and Rylee. They run a cow-calf and long yearling operation along the Bronson Forest, working as close to mother nature as they can.

They manage their business using the Holistic Management framework to make financially, environmentally and socially sound decisions, with a strong emphasis on forage management and Holistic Planned Grazing. They are always open to learning and finding new ways to make their lives and business better.




Holly McGill, Mentee

Biography:

Holly McGill is a Feed Mill Sales Representative who joined the Elanco Canada team in 2022. Having completed both a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and a master’s degree in Dairy Nutrition, she was a ruminant nutritionist focused on beef and veal nutrition for almost ten years after graduation before joining Elanco. Holly is an active member of the new Ontario Beef Youth Alliance and is incredibly excited to be a 2022-2023 finalist of the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program. In her spare time, Holly volunteers on the Board of Directors for Farm and Food Care Ontario and as a Big Sister mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as on the organizing committee for the Animal Nutrition Conference of Canada as the Speaker Chairperson. Holly enjoys horseback riding, mountain biking and archery, and lives in Listowel, Ontario with her partner Dane and their two cats.

Shannon Borden, Mentor

Biography:

Shannon has been in the animal nutrition business in Western Canada for the last 25 years. Shannon grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan where her family ran an agriculture implement machinery dealership and farmed production crops. Her first six years in the industry were spent working in crop management, agronomy and grain marketing pillars of the Canadian agriculture industry until she found her true passion in Large Animal Food Production. Currently, Shannon is responsible for working within the large animal food production sector in Canada and the USA to bring sustainable technologies and products to primary producers, veterinarians, and nutritionists.




James Kinley, Mentee

Biography:

James Kinley grew up in Cartwright, Manitoba on a mixed livestock farm with his parents and two siblings. The Kinley farm consists of commercial cattle and sheep, and sometimes some pigs and chickens as well. Growing up, James has always been active on the farm and loves meeting new people. James played lots of different sports growing up such as hockey, baseball, and badminton. Growing up on the farm has given James the passion and desire to get involved in the livestock industry, with a keen interest in beef cattle and grazing management. Cows on grass quickly became his favourite thing. In 2020, the year he graduated high school, James decided to attend Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta where he took animal science technology: a beef major diploma. He then graduated and is currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in agricultural technology. Over the summers, James is always hard at work whether it’s on the farm, or this past summer, James worked for an animal nutrition company doing market research on the beef industry in Manitoba.

James is extremely excited to be selected for the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program. He is looking forward to learning about the future of the beef industry as well as networking with industry leaders and the amazing travel opportunities that come along with such a formidable opportunity like this one.

Shylo Penrod, Mentor

Biography:

Shylo grew up in Strathmore, AB and always had an interest in agriculture and the cattle industry. He graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a BA Honours in Political Science in 1996. After graduation, he spent time working in the cow-calf industry in Southern Alberta.

For close to 20 years, he has been involved with the cattle feeding industry, experiencing all areas of the business from animal health to nutrition. In 2019, he joined Rimrock Feeders in High River, AB as manager. He focuses on using data to make better decisions, and values using technology to help improve production and efficiency.

Shylo enjoys being active in the community with an interest in sports (specifically hockey and football). He has been involved with 4H with his family for several years and is passionate to see young people pursue careers in agriculture.




Russell Gallelli, Mentee

Biography:

Russell Gallelli lives West of Crossfield, AB on a fourth-generation family farm, where they raise purebred Charolais and Red Angus - Charolais cross commercial cattle. Alongside the cattle, Russell grain farms with his parents. Russell has been very proactive in bringing in new technologies, herd and pasture management practices, and being an environmental steward to ensure that his operation is running at its best. 

Russell’s passion for cattle started when he was very young, helping his parents run their herd, being actively involved with 4-H and showing cattle. Showing cattle has continued with some fall cattle shows, like Farm Fair International, Agribition and the Alberta Charolais Select, to showcase his cattle and meet potential buyers. Today, Russell is constantly involved with the cattle industry being a part of the Alberta Charolais Association Board, raising his cattle under the VBP+ program and now with much excitement, being chosen as a CYL! He looks forward to the new connections and learning opportunities ahead.

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 Canadian Cattle 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.




Tyson Ringdal, Mentee

Biography:

Tyson Ringdal was raised on a dairy farm in Armstrong, BC. He has been involved in 4-H in two provinces totalling seven years, as well as a member of the Canadian Junior Hereford Association. They purchased the first beef cows in 2011 and the herd grew from there. In 2016, his family moved to Outlook, SK to start a beef operation and are currently at 400 cows. In 2019, Tyson obtained a diploma in Animal Science Technology from Lakeland College. Since then, Tyson has been involved on the farm full-time helping to grow the VBP+ operation. For the past three years, the farm has been raising the calf crop to finish. He considers managing the farm like a business and finding efficiencies very important for long-term sustainability. Through the mentorship, Tyson is interested in developing skills in feedlot management and marketing. He is excited about the opportunities in the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program and plans to use the acquired knowledge to help the family farm thrive, and also contribute to the beef sector and agriculture industry.

Gord Roger, Mentor

Biography:

Gord Roger is a 38-year veteran of the Canadian animal health industry and is currently a member of the Elanco Animal Health Ruminant Team. Gord was born and raised in Weyburn, SK where the family built and operated the Weyburn Livestock Exchange and a purebred Simmental cattle operation. Gord completed a bachelors’ degree in Agriculture with an Animal Science major at the University of Saskatchewan in 1984 and entered the animal health industry upon graduation. Gord’s career in the animal health industry has taken him across Canada and exposed him to all areas of the business including ruminant, monogastric, equine, companion animal and even aquaculture with the past 20 years being predominantly specialized in the ruminant business in both sales and management roles in Western Canada.

Gord’s extensive travel throughout Canada and the US has allowed him to establish a broad contact network in the agribusiness industry where his heart and passion lies. The cattle business has always been a big part of his life and he and his wife Jackie, daughter Megan and son Shane, have operated both a purebred and commercial Angus operation where they reside north of Balgonie, SK. Gord has recently served on the board of Directors for the Saskatchewan Angus Association where he held the role of 1st Vice President and Finance Chair. Gord has also served on the boards of Canadian Western Agribition and the Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (FACS). Agriculture runs deep in the family as his daughter Megan is currently a Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Moose Jaw and his son Shane, the Marketing Lead for Alltech Canada based out of Calgary.

Gord has a passion for the outdoors and is an active fisherman and big game hunter. Gord and his family have a cabin in the Porcupine Hills Provincial Forest in NE Saskatchewan where they try to spend as much time as they can fishing, hunting, kayaking and snowmobiling. Gord is a long-time member of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and has recently joined Ducks Unlimited as well. As they are now empty nesters, Gord’s wife Jackie takes care of the farm and the cattle while Gord is away on business and Megan comes home to help as much as she can. The majority of Gord’s work is now in Saskatchewan while he continues to support and mentor new and junior colleagues on Elanco team in Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario and is also currently providing technical sales support to Elanco’s ruminant business in British Columbia.

Gord is honoured and excited to be given the opportunity to become a Canadian Cattle Young Leaders mentor and hopes to use his experience and knowledge to support his mentee and the mentorship program as a whole.


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