It seems to have been a matter of destiny waiting for design that brought Rosie Templeton and her mentor, Diane Finstad, together in the CYL program. Both come from ranching families and were active in 4-H beef clubs in their southern Alberta communities.
Finstad went on to take a radio arts course at Olds College and then landed the job of her dreams as an agriculture reporter with CKGY Radio at Red Deer, where she is currently the agriculture and rodeo director.
Templeton is pursuing her dream of a career in marketing or communications at an agricultural corporation by broadening her practical knowledge about the industry through the CYL program and someday obtaining an agriculture communications degree in the U.S. She is currently a first-year agriculture business management student at the University of Alberta.
Her interest in agriculture communications stems from her past experience in 4-H and junior cattle programs at the local, provincial, national and international level. “There was always a marketing, public speaking, or media function involved and I found I really enjoyed those,” Templeton says. “In high school at Coaldale, I started exploring how to apply that to a career in agriculture and from there I learned about opportunities for advocacy in agriculture.”
She continues to gain experience in the communications field by attending, speaking at, and even chairing industry conferences, and presenting workshops to 4-H groups. She is currently the founding president of the first Collegiate 4-H Club in Canada at the University of Alberta.
Needless to say, the opportunity presented by the CYL program to attend a number of key beef industry events with a seasoned media personality was too good to let pass. She applied in anticipation of discovering where a person with her skills could fit into the industry while she learned more about the beef industry, improved her communication skills and gained some valuable contacts for her future career.
Her objectives zeroed in on learning about effective advertising, public opinion research, especially as it applied to countering myths about agriculture, and the day-to-day tasks of someone in the beef-marketing and communications field.
Her final objective was to be selected to attend the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) Young Ranchers program in Denver, which she did after she and fellow candidate Samantha Sperber produced a video with some friends about the Canadian beef industry.
Templeton met her mentor Diane during a media tour and CYL Fall Forum, which she says was the perfect launch pad for her mentorship.
“Shadowing Diane in her work behind the chutes reporting from the Canadian Finals Rodeo was a real eye opener and one of the big highlights for me. It was amazing to see all of the organization that goes on behind the scenes to report the event,” she says.
It also proved an opportune time to take up the issue of anti-animal groups with people who already work in the industry. “I learned that in agriculture we have the advantage of the truth,” she adds.
To gain some insight into consumer perceptions about agriculture and the beef industry Finstad suggested Rosie start with her peers, to find out what they knew about the food they ate and the attitudes that caused them to arrive at those conclusions. “It seems the majority just want to understand how the food is produced on the farm and ends up in the grocery store,” she says. “Most people don’t have the level of understanding that we do having grown up on the farm, so it’s all about breaking it down into the basics.”
She also discovered that some of the best ways to reach people are right at your fingertips, through conversations face to face or via social media. It could be something as simple as posting links to good information on Facebook or Twitter. That’s a tip she received in Denver from Temple Grandin, who uses social media extensively to advocate for the proper treatment of agricultural animals. Another good suggestion was to write out and review your thoughts before posting them online. It’s important to be a credible, nonthreatening source of information.
Looking back on it she says the evening with Temple Grandin was a highlight of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the Five Nations program. “I’ve never absorbed that amount of information in so short amount of time. They had a great lineup of activities and I was pleasantly surprised that the communication theme started by Temple carried on everywhere we went. It is a topic of interest to people from all countries.” They also had a chance to talk to the social media co-ordinator of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Between the FNBA program, International Livestock Congress, CYL Fall Forum, and researching resources suggested by Diane, Rosie feels she now has a much better understanding of what goes on in the Canadian and international beef business. That, she says, is probably the most valuable outcome of her CYL experience.
Thisisoneofaseriesofstoriesonthefiveyoungleadersfrom Albertawhoparticipatedinthe2010pilotfortheCattlemen’s YoungLeaders(CYL)developmentprogram,aninitiativeof theCanadianCattlemen’sAssociationwithsupportfromthe AlbertaLivestockandMeatAgencyandCargill,andsponsorship fromCanadianCattlemen.TheCYLprogramprovides industry-specifictrainingandmentorshipopportunitiesfor youth,ages18-35,togaintheexpertiseandbusinessskills neededtoleadthecattleindustryintothefuture.Formore detailsonthe2011programvisit www.cattlemensyoungleaders.com.