As I mentioned in a previous post here, Aaron and I are currently acting as mentors to a young agricultural professional, Angela Kumlin, as part of the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program. As part of our journey together, I have asked Angela to write a guest blog post about her experience thus far. Take a moment to read her story below, and welcome her to the vast (and amazing) world of the beef industry!!
My name is Angela Kumlin and I am participating in the 2015/2016 Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program (hereafter referred to CYL). Through this program I have been matched up with Adrienne and Aaron Ivey as my mentors, so Adrienne asked me to do a guest blog post to tell you all about CYL.
I heard about CYL through some friends who had been involved in the program. They had nothing but good things to say about it, although they did seem to have trouble putting into words what was so awesome about it. “It’s just…awesome. You should do it.” I heard this several times, so in January of 2015 I sent in my application! I hope I can articulate it well enough to justify how awesome this program really is.
The application process was quite simple, although took some hard thinking on my part. “Describe your involvement in the cattle industry” – easy enough, but then throw in some doozies like “In 250 words or less describe your goals in the cattle industry.” 250 words! If you haven’t figured it out already, my thesis prof described me as “quite verbose”, so I had trouble keeping my thoughts concise.
Shortly after applications were sent in, 26 applicants out of about 70 were chosen for the final selections process in March in Saskatoon. When I arrived I knew a few people already, as several of last year’s mentees were there for their CYL graduation. There were lots that I didn’t know though, and we spent the next two days meeting and learning from one another, competing at round table discussions to vie for a spot in the program, and becoming a great group of friends. The round table discussions were challenging but very interesting, and I learned a lot just from listening to the perspectives of the other applicants. We also had a guest speaker panel one evening where we could ask questions of some prominent figures in agriculture, such as Marty Seymour [CEO of Agribition].
One day after returning home from selections, a friend in the program texted and said, “You’re in, congrats! I made it too!” So we all waited eagerly to hear who our mentors would be. When I first called Adrienne to introduce myself, we spent a half hour on the phone learning about each other’s backgrounds. When my husband came home that evening I told him about Adrienne and Aaron’s ranch and their business and lifestyle. His first comment was “That’s crazy – they picked people who are exactly who we want to be in ten years!”
This became even more evident when we went to visit Aaron and Adrienne in September to meet in person and tour their ranch. Not only do they have an operation similar to what we would love to run someday, but they are great people. I don’t say this lightly – they really are! Gracious hosts, great senses of humour, awesome kids, and a real zest for life, agriculture, beef, and trying new things. We were extremely impressed. We had some great discussions around their kitchen table that have had us scratching our heads, crunching numbers, and throwing ideas around since we left.
As a part of the mentorship within CYL, we are also allowed a travel budget to participate in some educational experiences. Since Aaron and Adrienne were the Saskatchewan Outstanding Young Farmer’s last year, they have invited me to go to that conference this year in Edmonton, which I am really looking forward to. Adrienne and I are also hoping to go to Altech’s Rebelation conference in Kentucky next spring.
Some of my goals with my mentorship this year were to learn about risk management within a ranching business, succession planning, social license and talking to the public about agriculture, grazing management, and employee management. Aaron, Adrienne, and I have set goals and steps for me to learn something about each of these topics over the course of the year. I am looking forward to spending more time on each of these topics! I truly appreciate the time they are spending with us to give us a leg up in this industry. It is a big time commitment and they are busy people, so it means even more when they take the time out of their day to call and chat about what’s going on in the beef industry.
Outside of the mentor aspect of CYL, the program offers a lot of other opportunities to CYL participants. There are competitions within the program to go on trips, such as to the Five Nations Beef Alliance which is being held in Mexico this year. There are also forums every few months where we all get together and go through some training (ex. negotiations training and leadership training), hear fantastic guest speakers, network with prominent figures in the beef industry as well as one another and our mentors, and volunteer to give back to our industry. Several of us will be volunteering at booths during Agribition. If you are interested in the program, be sure to stop one of us to say hi and ask about how to get involved! Applications for 2016 will be accepted between Jan 1st and March 31st 2016. If you are looking for more information on CYL, you can visit their website at http://www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com/.
Funding for the CYL program is made available through its foundation partners: UFA Co-operative Ltd., the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), Cargill, and MNP. The program also receives support from gold sponsors Farm Credit Canada and New Holland. The CYL Spring Forum in 2015 was sponsored by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture.
Thanks for reading!