Three Ontario women have been named finalists in the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders (CYL) Mentorship Program, a national initiative of the Canadian Cattle Association.
Madison Lewis of Meaford, Danika Mayer of Alexandria, and Holly McGill of Listowel were selected as three of 16 finalists from a pool of 22 semi-finalists who competed in judged roundtable discussions at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Penticton, B.C. in August.
Why it matters: Professional development and mentorship opportunities equip young people with the skills and experience they need to become future leaders.
McGill, who works as a ruminant nutritionist at Wallenstein Feed & Supply, is a unique addition to the program.
While all other finalists and the majority of CYL alumni were raised in farming families, have experience showing cattle or own cattle now, she doesn’t have the same type of background.
“I’m a transplant into agriculture and even more so into the beef world but I’ve really found a deep love for it and I feel fortunate that the beef industry has been so willing to welcome me,” says McGill, who grew up in Pickering and first became interested in animal health through riding horses.
In September, the finalists met virtually with the mentor selection panel to discuss their specific interests and goals and what type of industry expert they would like to be paired with. Mentors and mentees will be matched in November and will work together for nine months.
McGill credits conferences and extension resources for teaching her about animal nutrition and current research but would appreciate a mentor who has many years of practical experience under their belt.
“Without a farming background, the area that is hardest for me to get experience in is actually cow-side and the practical, hands-on application of nutrition,” she says.
In addition, McGill has developed an interest in giving presentations to beef producers and submitting articles to newsletters and other publications. She would also see value in being paired with a mentor who is experienced in communicating research and management concepts to producers.
“I’m looking forward to meeting whoever it is they pair me with.”
Lewis is pursuing a master’s degree in beef nutrition at the University of Guelph. She works as a beef nutrition intern at Cargill and is involved with Limousin breed associations. She recently graduated from the Canadian Junior Limousin Association, Ontario Junior Limousin Association and her local 4-H beef club.
Mayer first became interested in the beef sector when she showed a heifer for a local seed stock producer when she was 17. While she studied nursing in college and is now employed at a local hospital, she also runs a small Simmental operation with her boyfriend and would like to pursue a career in agriculture in the future.
Each finalist has been awarded a $2,000 budget to put toward beef industry travel and learning opportunities. The program is open to young people between the ages of 18 and 35 from across Canada.