Wednesday, 02 November 2016 14:15

MHC team of students do well at Agribusiness Case Competition

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From left to right: Lorene Entz, Darren Howes, Ashley Herrmann, Jordan Pomrenke, Mila Joubert, Colton Eremenko From left to right: Lorene Entz, Darren Howes, Ashley Herrmann, Jordan Pomrenke, Mila Joubert, Colton Eremenko Contributed

Despite not having an agriculture-themed business program, students from the Medicine Hat College showed well at the prestigious Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Case Competition held Oct. 28-29 at both the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College.

Medicine Hat’s team of academic advisor Darren Howes, with students Lorene Entz, Colton Eremenko, Ashley Herrmann, Mila Joubert, and Jordan Pomrenke earned a respectable second-place finish in a field of 12 teams and 54 students which included the University of Saskatchewan, Lakeland College (Lloydminster/ Vermilion) as well as the remaining nine squads from the two Lethbridge schools.
According to a release the remaining competitors were comprised of both “(University of Lethbridge) students studying management and agricultural economics and Lethbridge College students studying business administration and agriculture.”
Herrmann, a native of Schuler and vice-president of the local chapter of the MHC Enactus group, says they were excited to have an opportunity to be in attendance and represent the Medicine Hat College in “such a great competition.”
Unlike their counterparts in Lethbridge who have agriculture-business based degrees/diplomas, Medicine Hat College does not. However, four out of five members of the MHCteam were from the rural area.
“Going into the competition three of us had previously attended either this case competition or a different case competition (Dean’s Case Competition held annually in Calgary) previously. Our agriculture background paired with the experience many of us had in regards to practice cases made us feel as through we would be able to improve from being fourth last year,” explains Herrmann, a fourth-year business student. “I wouldn’t say that we were expecting to win because these case competitions depend very little on experience and knowledge and more on creativity and innovative thinking, but I believe we were coming in to the competition more confident than we (were) last year.”
According to the Lethbridge College, the case competition was created due in part “to a $5-million donation by local agricultural entrepreneur Dr. Cor Van Raay (LLD ’15). The competition is designed to give students the opportunity to expand their knowledge in agriculture and business on a global scale.”
“This case competition provides students with an opportunity to analyze issues facing the primary industry in southern Alberta and provide solutions to a panel of judges,” says Dr. Bob Boudreau, dean of the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge. “It also allows them to network with and learn from industry professionals.”
It was no easy task and according to Herrmann, the competition was taken seriously. There was a lot of emotion and effort which went into competing.
Herrmann explains in this year’s competition, teams were given four hours to read, analyze, and prepare to give a 15-minute presentation on how to solve the problem presented. The problem in the case was basically how to improve a grass-fed sustainably-raised, long horn rancher’s productivity, sustain positive environmental impacts while staying true and maintaining the values of the family-run ranch.
“This time was actually cut down from five in the previous year, so when we showed up on Friday and realized this, we are a little panicked, but we had to realize that everyone was going to only have four hours and that we needed to be productive and efficient with our time completing the case,” Herrmann explains. “With a lot of discussion and time spent brainstorming, we came up with an out-of-the-box idea (being the business students we are) and we were excited about the end result. (We were) very satisfied and proud of the work we put in and the result we got.”
Herrmann couldn’t have been more proud of her teammates and they enjoyed competing. Eremenko and Herrmann were both on the team last year, and while she is vice-president of Enactus, he is president. They, along with Mila Joubert are fourt-year Business Administration students currently earning degrees through Mount Royal University while attending MHC. Third-year student Lorene Entz is in the same program as Herrmann, Eremenko and Joubert. Pomrenke is a second-year business student currently earning his diploma at MHC and this was his first case competition.
“All five of us are members of Enactus so when we heard that our advisors Darren Howes and Glen Allen were wanting to put a team together, we took the initiative and picked individuals that we thought would be most valuable in a case competition sense,” adds Herrmann.
It was exciting, the competition was stimulating and it’s always a positive thing to win, and be part of a gala awards evening (held Oct. 29 in the Lethbridge College’s Garden Court), but Herrmann believes this particular agriculture competition is invaluable in other ways.
“Considering the current state of the economy and the hard times for many individuals within our province and nation, I believe that it is extremely important to have these students, with agriculture backgrounds whether it be farming or ranching, to have some educational support,” Herrmann says. “Mainly because the agriculture industry has changed so drastically within the last 10 or years. These changes include ,say moving from the wheat board, technological changes with farming equipment, biotechnology, and changes in environmental standards. So therefore, it is great to have these opportunities close to home and available to students that are in agriculture programs and for those that are not, like us from Medicine Hat College.
“I believe that seeing the affect that this competition had on my one teammate, Mila Joubert, that has no agriculture background was fascinating and inspiring and I believe that if more people were put in a situation like she was — forced to learn and see the opportunity that agriculture can bring  — I think more students would get involved or at least interested.”
The winners from Lethbridge including the College's Madison Hunter, Davis Weber, Jacquelyn Walker and Marrit Van Es from the University of Lethbridge.

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