WILLIAMS LAKE – Three young BC beef leaders look forward to learning from their peers and mentors as part of this year’s Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Mentorship Program organized by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
Julia Flinton from Williams Lake, Janine Rubin of Rose Prairie and Amanda Miller from Lumby are among 16 finalists for the 2021-2022 edition of the nine-month program.
Flinton grew up on a small family farm in the Cariboo and studied agricultural business at the University of Saskatchewan while also playing amateur hockey.
“I came home after that and got right back into the ag side of things because I missed out on it for so long because of hockey. Now I help my dad run the same farm I grew up on,” she says.
Her father now operates the ranch in partnership with his neighbor, running 100-head of cow-calf pairs. Meanwhile, her husband’s mother operates the 150 Mile Ranch owned by the Williams Lake First Nation. She helps there, too.
Flinton’s involvement in the beef sector goes beyond the two ranches.
“I also did 4-H growing up and we started a 4-H club for the Williams Lake First Nation,” she says. “We just completed our first year. There were only six members at the start and then there were 20 members by the end of the year. We had projects in beef, swine and sheep.”
A third-generation rancher, she looks forward to absorbing everything the mentorship experience has to offer.
“I’ve been involved in the cattle industry but … my only exposure is from small town and family connections, so I think it will be a great opportunity to broaden my horizons beyond the Cariboo,” she says.
For Janine Rubin, a second-generation farmer, the program’s timing could not have been better.
“My dad first told Me about this program when I was super-young and studying agriculture at Olds College in Alberta. I had known about it for a long time, but I was busy with school and never applied,” she says. “But then this winter I was on maternity leave from my job at the [BC] Ministry of Agriculture as a program representative on the insurance side of things. I was so excited to fill out the application and send it in.”
Rubin grew up on a 150-head commercial purebred Red Angus cow-calf operation in Rose Prairie and was a 4-H member for four years.
While Rubin felt well prepared for the competition, which had 23 semi-finalists, she was pleasantly surprised to make it to the finals.
“I knew some friends from school who applied but it took them a couple years to get in because it’s such a competitive program. So, when I made top 16, I was really surprised,” she says. “It’s such an honour to be picked and I want to thank the sponsors and organizers. I’m happy for everyone who’s involved. I’m grateful to be selected.”
While she has extensive experience in crop and livestock insurance, Rubin hopes to be paired with a mentor knowledgeable about cattle marketing.
She also hopes to fine-tune her skills as a sector advocate and expand her network in the industry.
“I want to be an advocate for the industry and let my passion show for the cattle industry,” she says.
She, along with her husband and young daughter, looks forward to one day applying her mentorship experience as ranchers. The family currently lives in Fort St. John and aspire to start their own ranch.
“[We] hope to move back to the country soon and become producers ourselves,” says Rubin.
For now, she enjoys lending a hand on her parent’s ranch, helping with calving, vaccinations and other tasks around the farm.
Amanda Miller grew up on a small family ranch and hopes to apply her schooling and career skills to her mentorship experience. She spent her childhood ranching, which led her to pursue education in natural resource management and rangeland ecology.
“I have a strong background in policy and I want to work on policy solutions to help maintain the competitiveness and economic viability of the beef industry,” she says. “I did my undergrad in the natural resource program at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and then I went onto the University of Alberta and got a graduate degree in rangeland and wildlife resources,” Miller says.
Miller has been a professional agrologist since 2016 and is the owner and founder of Palouse Rangeland Consulting in Lumby.
Through the CYL Program, she hopes to grow her network and delve further into policy.
“I would really like to gain more knowledge of the beef sector and the challenges and opportunities that are in the realm of policy and advocacy,” Miller says. “Having an understanding of the current state of different policy challenges that the industry faces, would be beneficial. As well as learning where I can provide positive change.”
She is also interested in conservation issues.
“I come from an ecology perspective, so I look forward to further exploring the relationships between a vibrant beef industry and grassland conservation outcomes because they are so intrinsically tied,” she explains.
Three-quarters of this year’s finalists are female, which shows promise for diverse involvement in the Canadian beef sector moving forward.
“Women have always been heavily involved in this [industry] and now with social change, we are seeing a lot more diversity within the cattle industry and more inclusion of different people who offer valuable viewpoints and perspectives,” says Miller. “A place has been made in the beef industry for women and we are excited to take part.”
The finalists participated in a day-long virtual competition on August 30 to vie for their spots in this year’s initiative. Following judged roundtable discussions on a variety of industry topics, 16 finalists from across the country were chosen, and each participant will receive a $2,000 travel budget and be paired with an industry leader later this fall.
The 2019 and 2020 program BC participants Kate Barnet, Andrea van Iterson and Laura Code graduated at the end of September. Since 2010, the CYL program has facilitated mentorship for over 120 graduates.
The CYL Mentorship Program is led by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to provide young people aged between 18 and 35 with industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities. Participants network and travel and as a mentee, gain skills that allow them to succeed in the Canadian beef industry.