Gift from Canadian Cattle Foundation opens doors to national youth program at W.A. Ranches in Alberta

Gift from Canadian Cattle Foundation opens doors to national youth program at W.A. Ranches in Alberta

W.A. Ranches launches initiative to connect young people – both rural and urban – with the cattle industry.

CCF Chair Bob Lowe believes it’s Canada’s young people who will lead an innovative and sustainable cattle industry in the future. That’s why he and his fellow board members are excited for the CCF to be the founding donor of a new youth program at W.A. Ranches at the University of Calgary.

A founding gift of $150,000 from the CCF will be used to launch a new youth development and outreach program at W.A. Ranches, to help attract bright young minds to an industry that is a key economic driver for Alberta and Canada.

Bridging the urban/rural divide

“This is a wonderful donation. It brings together one of the key visions of the donors of W.A. Ranches, Wynne Chisholm and her father Jack Anderson,” says Dr. Ed Pajor, PhD, director of W.A. Ranches and the Anderson-Chisholm Chair in Animal Care and Welfare in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. “That is to work with youth and bridge the urban/rural divide that exists, where people from the city may not understand where their food comes from or how it’s produced or just how much care and effort goes into raising animals.”

“W.A. Ranches is a very special place,” adds Lowe. “I think it was Ed (Pajor) who coined the phrase ‘a ranch of opportunities’, and the opportunity here is absolutely huge for us to work together to showcase the cattle industry and the importance to the environment to have grazing animals on the grasslands.”

Lowe wants to start a conversation among young people that challenges global movements to eliminate animal agriculture. “You can’t paint the whole world with one brush. Canada’s grasslands wouldn’t be grasslands without the cattle industry. Converting resources into something that people can eat is a very important thing in the world and this program is one link that will really help us move the whole thing forward.”

UCalgary youth-based programs and opportunities at the ranch will be developed thanks to this grant,  in areas such as animal health and welfare, wildlife interactions, regenerative agriculture, biodiversity, and emerging technologies. Along with shorter visits and workshops, Pajor envisions developing more immersive experiences, where young people from across Canada spend extended periods of time at the ranch.

“It’s not just I went for a field trip to the ranch one day, I would like some of our programs to be a much deeper experience,” says Pajor. “This may involve multiple visits, so youth can appreciate the care involved with raising animals, understand the complexities of the beef production cycle, and see the career opportunities available in the beef industry and agriculture.”


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