Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Competition a chance for young ag-business students to shine
It has quickly become a staple in the social, education and agricultural fabric in southwest Alberta.
The 4th annual Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Competition took place in Lethbridge on Oct. 26-27.
“I want to congratulate the students,” John Kolk, Master of Ceremonies, said. “Some of them have come from quite a distance and I congratulate them for having that extra courage.”
11 teams participated in the competition with one team coming from Lakeland College, one team coming from the University of Saskatchewan, one team from Olds, and the rest of the teams consisting of students from Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge.
The Friday evening was filled with numerous networking opportunities, a keynote speaker, and a student meeting.
“I have heard great feedback from the students that they were able to network, gain new knowledge and make new friends,” says Amber Christianson, the Cor Van Raay Case Competition Coordinator.
The actual competition kicked off early Saturday morning and lasted until early evening, with all teams involved working tirelessly to achieve a victory. This year's case was a dairy case that involved talking about management structure and growth.
“I talked to a few of the students and I asked them what their highlight of the competition was,” Kolk says. “Almost invariably, it was working together to try and get to something and taking about something that we don't know anything about . It's the kind of thing that's going to serve you well in your careers.”
Saturday evening consisted of a mixer, gala dinner provided by the Culinary students and staff from Lethbridge College, and presentation of awards to those who won the competition.
Following the mixer and dinner, several people got up to express their thoughts and admiration about the program and Cor Van Raay's generosity towards local educational programs.
“By having an Ag keynote speaker and Ag based case, this opens the doors for students to learn more about Ag based opportunities,” Christianson said.
David Hill, director of development with the Southern Alberta Agriculture and Agribusiness program, was the first to speak and he spoke about how agriculture and the concept of food has grown over the years enough that education is shifting to ensure that students learn and get to practice applying innovative concepts relating to agriculture while still in school.
“I find that it's still somewhat the idea that if you say the word agriculture people immediately think of farming and farming is great; it's essential but agriculture has become much bigger,” Hill explains. “We're now at the college; we have a diploma in agricultural Enterprise Management in the School of Business and at the University of Lethbridge; we'll have a major in agricultural Enterprise Management in the different School of Business, so I think this is a really exciting time for all of us.”
Kenny Corsican from Lethbridge College spoke next and emphasized that traveling so far to be here for this competition creates a tremendous opportunity for all participants to gain its real problems that are that are facing the industry.
Dr. A.K.M. Shamsul Alam, Professor of Finance and the Associate Dean and Director of Management Programs at the University of Lethbridge, then spoke about how the University of Lethbridge is an active collaborator along with the college in and in this partnership they are focusing on developing dynamic students who are the entrepreneurial spirit.
“It is an experiential learning process; the students learn real problems and apply their knowledge to solve them when they are still in school,” Alam says.
Representatives from Scotiabank and Norfolk Country Law, who were sponsors of the competition, also spoke about how their companies were honored to be involved in helping further the business that agriculture is.
“Cor Van Raay's been a visionary when it comes to agribusiness and opportunity represented by southern Alberta,” saysTyler Murray, a lawyer with Norfolk County Law who practises in southern Alberta. “It's a vision of opportunity that's shared by our firm as young people about to embark on their careers. You should all just know that there's no business with a brighter future than agribusiness and there's no better place to be than right here in Southern Alberta.”
Following the speeches, awards were given out to the top three teams in the competition. The winning team of this year's competition was Team Lakeland College. Second place went to Team University of Saskatchewan, while third place was awarded to Team Lethbridge College/University of Lethbridge.
“These case competitions help students with presentation skills, networking and gaining new connections, and opening opportunities up in the Agricultural Sector,” Christianson notes.
The first place winners in the competition, Team Lakeland College, with Cor Van Raay.
Second place was Team Lethbridge.
All of the participants in the Lethbridge College and University of Lethbridge’s agribusiness competition with its spearhead, Cor Van Raay (centre).