Thursday, February 27, 2014

My First GOAL Experience

If I were to say it has been an exciting start to the 2014 Canadian Junior Angus Association (CJAA) year, that would be an understatement. It was my privilege to attend the Guiding Outstanding Angus Leaders (GOAL) conference February 15-17 in Calgary, Alberta. CJAA members attended from coast to coast, with an outstanding turnout of 52 members, 26 being first-time attendees. Being my first GOAL conference, all of my expectations were exceeded and it was the best experience to say the least! 

I flew into Calgary from Toronto Friday evening. Events were underway by Saturday afternoon starting with icebreakers and social activities. Shortly after, our first speaker of the event, Alvin Law spoke of “Alvin’s Law of Life.” Combining his life story, being born without arms, with personal insight, his motivation to change his attitude proved that happiness can enhance personal satisfaction. I remember a quote Alvin spoke about quite vividly. He said, “All professional development starts with personal assessment and taken together, everyone wins!” It’s safe to say that he was definitely a highlight of the weekend! 

Later that evening, we engaged in an etiquette dinner presentation by Taylor Hughes, in which we were taught how to “properly” eat a five course dinner. Our skills were definitely put to the test with an outstanding steak dinner to follow. 

The Foundation Legacy Scholarship Panel Discussion was a high point to end off this great evening. Patrick Holland, Breanna Anderson, Katie Dietrich, Travis Hunter and Katie Olynyk were the five finalists who participated in the discussion. CEO Rob Smith as well as Canadian Angus directors asked intuitive questions about the ever-changing beef industry. All participants were very sharp with their answers and I think it is safe to say the beef industry and Angus breed have never looked brighter.

It was an early start to Sunday morning. The first guest speaker of the day, Art Froelich, the President of Agriview, delivered a presentation about agriculture in a global perspective. It was exciting to hear that Canada will be one of the five countries needed to feed the world.  Following Froelich, Dr. Tom Pittman spoke about “Calving from A-Z,” which everyone found very informative and interesting.

Later in the afternoon, a special presentation from former Summer Marketing Interns, Matt Bates, Karla Ness and Katie Dietrich brought back the inner child in many of us! Dressing up from a cow to the farmer, everyone participated in the presentation that was used to engage public school children in the beef industry.  

Following our guest speakers, we boarded a bus to see the big reveal of Angus Central. I, as well as the other Juniors were very impressed. The office tour was not solely the reason for the visit; there were also special presentations to be made. The New Zealand World Angus Forum youth team grand and reserve champion teams and the champion individual received awards. 

We were then let loose to tour Irvine’s Tack & Western Wear and buy all those “needed” jeans and cowboy boots for the upcoming show season. 

The night ended with lots of laughs at the Jubilation’s Dinner Theatre. With an excellent dinner intertwined with scenes from the television show Friends, we all had a night to remember. 

The last and final day of GOAL started with a presentation from CJAA President Michael Hargrave during which he spoke of the numerous opportunities that the CJAA has to offer youth. Following, Fred Taylor, grading contractor for Cargill, talked about when we produce a product, we need to understand the needs and wants of our consumer. The third talk of the day came from Kim McConnell, former founder and CEO of AdFarm. McConnell illustrated the consumption differences between the western world and some of the poorest nations, comparing our habits and what this means in the role of agriculture today. The final presentation came from one of our own members, Austen Anderson, who shared information about the Cattleman’s Young Leaders (CYL) program. 

Closing remarks came from two of the retiring CJAA directors, Katie Wright and Austen Anderson. We thank both of these members for their dedication to the program and for inspiring others to be involved.

From the friendships, memories and experiences I have had, I look forward to attending this conference once again next year, as well as many more CJAA events this summer!

Posted by Sophie Wotten