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Saturday, 10 September 2016 06:40

Locals chosen earning chance to learn through the Cattlemen's Young Leaders program

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Mona Howe, 34, loves the cattle industry and like any young person wants to acquire as much knowledge as she can the further she gets into it.

Earlier in August, the Leader, Sask. rancher earned a golden opportunity to learn from the best thanks to a popular program through the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.
On Aug. 9, the recipients of the Cattlemen's Young Leaders national mentorship recipients were chosen at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary.
Howe, along with 15 others were selected from a list of 23 semi-finalists.
"I would like to thank the Canadian Cattlemen's Association for this tremendous opportunity.  Congratulations to the other mentees and fellow southerner Maddy Knodel (from Seven Persons)," says Howe who along with her husband Brad own and operate a 400-head commercial cow/calf operation west of Leader. "I am very excited and honored to be chosen for a mentorship as it is a fantastic way to become more involved with the cattle/beef industry in Canada.  As producers we need to be aware of the issues and opportunities present in our business and this is a perfect way to be front and center.  I want to make a positive difference and find ways to give back so this will help me to find a focus for that.
"I love the lifestyle that ranching allows us as well as being able to teach our children the value of hard work.  One of my favorite things is caring for the land and the livestock and sharing that with my family.  It is an honor to raise wholesome food for other people in our country, and around the world.  It is our goal to continue to improve our operations overall sustainability and by doing so, provide the next generation with the opportunity to continue ranching long into the future."
Besides Howe and Knodel, Nicole Viste and Jesse Williams from Hanna were also chosen from across Canada.
According to a release, the CYL Selections at CBIC brought together the semi-finalists, current graduates, and industry leaders for a week of networking and learning. The event included the five-year reunion celebration of the CYL national launch, where over 60 alumni mentors and mentees gathered for the graduation of the current group and acknowledgement of the success of the program.
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The way the program works is that Howe and the other recipients will be paired with "an industry mentor to guide them over the next eight months. The CYL Program provides industry-specific training and mentorship opportunities to young producers. CYL participants have the opportunity to explore a potential career choice or involvement with a provincial/national producer organization, while gaining the expertise and business acumen necessary to sustain the cattle industry into the future."
Howe looks at it as a unique opportunity to improve on different aspects of the industry through her mentorship.
"As far as the mentorship itself I am planning to gain a more in depth understanding of what drives the cattle markets in North America and globally and how we as primary producers can improve our product for that market," explains Howe. "Sustainability is a key issue right now and I hope to find ways to practically apply new sustainability techniques to our cow-calf operation.  I also believe that we all need to advocate for our beef industry and agriculture in general.  It is my goal to become a better advocate and find ways to tell the story of what we do in a way that people can relate to us as producers.
"I have already, though the selection process, made many important contacts and hope to make many more over the next 8 months in the program.  There is an amazing amount of talent just within the individuals in the Mentee group that I am excited to get to know them all and learn many things from them.  
Mona  grew up on a large ranch 45 minutes south of Maple Creek, and was involved in all of the day to day operations.
"I started my own commercial Black Angus cow herd at an early age through money earned from my 4-H calves and enjoyed showing cattle through 4-H and Canadian Junior Angus shows.  I was also a member of the Saskatchewan High School Rodeo Association for 4 years.  After graduating from High School I completed my Business Administration diploma at Medicine Hat College and I worked as a Veterinary Assistant/Office Manager to further my knowledge in that area while continuing to  help out with my family’s ranch.   
In 2007, she and Brad purchased their first cow/calf ranch near Elkwater and expanded our cow herd.  
"At that time, I ran the day to day ranching operations while my husband worked off the ranch," Mona explains. "In 2011 we sold a portion of our land at Elkwater and purchased the ranch from my husband’s family, making us the fourth generation to make a living on this ranch in the river hills between the Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers. This expansion made it possible for both of us to be at home on the ranch working together and raising our family."
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.

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Ryan Dahlman

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