Recently, the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College co-hosted the 5th Annual Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Case Competition - the first of its kind in Western Canada.
The unique two-day event was held Oct. 18-19 at the U of L and was designed for students from Lethbridge College, the U of L and other post-secondary institutions. Participants were in any year of study and from a range of disciplines including agricultural studies, economics, commerce and business programs.
A total of 10 teams of five students each had four hours to analyze a written case and develop a solution. Each team delivered a 15-minute presentation of their solution to a panel of judges, followed by a 10-minute Q & A that demonstrated their acumen in the areas of agribusiness and agriculture.
Teams competed for their share of $2,000 in prize money. Competing teams included one each from Olds College and the University of Saskatchewan, and eight hybrid teams made up of U of L and Lethbridge College students. Teams had no Internet or outside resources or materials.
Benefits of competing in the competition included: applying theoretical knowledge to develop a solution for the chosen case; practising public-speaking skills; networking with industry professionals, sponsors, faculty and students; and learning about the business of agriculture and the potential career paths in the agribusiness sector.
Co-ordinator Carter Gal said the reason for the competition is to help grow the university and college's agribusiness programs. “Lethbridge has become a hub for agribusiness in Alberta and Canada,” he said. “We're really just trying to turn students onto the second largest industry.” Van Raay was also able to join the group for dinner during the weekend.
Every year, Gal noted, the competition has grown and this year there was growth, once again.
Van Raay, originally, made a donation to the university and the college, he explained. “It was $5 million for the creation of agribusiness majors. It is called Agricultural Enterprise Management.”
“The university launched their program this year,” he said, adding the college launched their program previously.
With this year being the first year for the program at the university, he said, there has been a good response thus far.
According to information provided on the program's official website, the agri-food sector is fast becoming one of the most challenging, diverse and dynamic career opportunities available to students. Feeding the world by 2050 will require an increase of almost 70 per cent in food production - along with all of the challenges of getting high quality, healthy, safe food and nutrition from farms to consumer’s plates.
“And the agri-food sector is an emerging sustainable engine of economic growth and diversification ideally suited to Alberta and Western Canada, where much of the future world food needs will be grown, processed, shipped and delivered to consumers around the world. Meeting these demands and opportunities will require students to be well-versed and prepared to be critical thinkers, solution providers, entrepreneurs, managers and agents of change in an essential field of commerce,” it was stated.
As of September 2019, the Agricultural Enterprise Management Major program will integrate the business, management, finance and operations aspects of agricultural enterprises. The major will equip students with the knowledge and experience to assume leadership roles in the agri-food sector - locally, nationally and globally. The program, developed in consultation with the agri-food sector and industry leaders, addresses key gaps and opportunities that will increase the economic value and competitiveness of the agri-food sector.