Two Sask. residents among semi-finalists in CCA’s Canadian Cattle Young Leaders Program

Two Saskatchewan residents are among 24 semi-finalists of the Canadian Cattle Association’s (CCA) Canadian Cattle Young Leaders Program (CYL) for the upcoming 2023-24 program year.

Brooke Martin grew up on a commercial cow-calf operation north of Piapot, and Levi Hurlburt is from Moose Jaw but grew up on a seed-stock operation northwest of Saskatoon.

“I’m super, super excited, I honestly didn’t think that I would even get picked to be a semi-finalist so I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Martin said of her reaction to finding out.

“It feels really good, it was something I thought about doing for a long time and this is the year that it kind of worked out for me, so it feels real good to be selected to be a semi-finalist this year,” Hurlburt said of his reaction, adding his younger brother, who also participated in the program, inspired him to apply.

Brooke and Levi will be attending the annual Canadian Young Leaders Selections Competition taking place on August 15, during the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary. Both are looking forward to it.

“I’m really just excited to meet everyone and to get the great networking opportunities and meet all the people who have immense knowledge in our field and our agriculture section,” Martin said as she also looks forward to meeting the other semi-finalists.

“Networking and growing your network within the cattle industry, although we’re a small industry…we can always meet more people and the stronger the network you can build I think the better you can make this industry and really unite ranchers and feedlot operators and everyone else in between all across this country, it’s very important for me.” Hurlburt said.

Youth Leadership Coordinator with the Canadian Cattle Association Jessica Radau says the semi-finalists will participate in judged roundtable discussions on beef industry-related topics.

She says each table is designated a specific topic to discuss – from succession planning, to technology & innovation, animal health, and financial literacy – with a 25 minute time limit before the semi-finalists rotate to a random table until all of them have been covered.

“Although it seems like an intimidating process we’ve had many people refer back to CYL Selection as one of their highlights of being involved in the program so we’re really looking forward to it.” Radau said.

Semi-finalists were selected by a panel of judges who received 70 applications this year.

Established in 2010, the Canadian Young Leaders Program welcomes young people between 18 and 35 years of age from across Canada, involved in all aspects of the beef industry to build the next generation of leaders.

“It’s meant to act as a built-in industry succession planning tool,” Radau said.

The CCA says in a news release after the competition is complete, “the selected finalists will be matched with an industry leader in their specific area of interest in the beef industry for a nine-month mentorship opportunity. They will also be granted a $2,000 budget to fund their engagement in various industry events and learning opportunities throughout the year, with additional travel and networking opportunities throughout the program year.”

Since it’s first year, the program has seen over 170 CYL graduates.

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