Campus Life

Grow the Future Gala caps off busy year for Aggies

The University of Lethbridge Agricultural Students’ Society (The Aggies) recently hosted another successful Grow the Future Gala at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge.

The gala is designed to bring the U of L and agriculture industry in southern Alberta together to build relationships in a way that will help students with their current and future endeavours.

A very successful silent auction, featuring handmade items from some of the talented club members, and a side of beef raffle raised funds in support of students, while Dr. Egan Brockhoff delivered the keynote presentation.

Brockhoff, a doctor of veterinary medicine and partner at Prairie Swine Health Services in Red Deer, has been involved in agriculture his entire life. His insight as someone involved in the field of animal science with a strong educational and work experience background was especially appreciated by the students in attendance.

“Luckily, we did not have to search very far to find such a highly regarded and educated individual in the industry,” says club member, Sydelle Zukowski, a third-year environmental science major and co-op student.

Brockhoff grew up on a mixed farm in central Alberta which has now grown to contain a 1,000-head Simmental Cross herd, a 2,500-head feedlot, and a large grain and grass program. He first attended Olds College for Animal Sciences, focusing on Beef Production and Management, and returned to the family farm upon receiving his diploma. It wasn’t until six years later, that Brockhoff decided to return to his studies, pursuing a health sciences degree at the University of Alberta.

After graduating from the U of A, Brockhoff studied at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Sask., before taking population medicine at Cornell University. He has since worked as a feedlot/cow/calf veterinarian, a dairy veterinarian, and as the Alberta Pork Project Leader.

He has been involved with research into livestock transportation, swine disease control and monitoring, and is heavily involved with biosecurity. Brockhoff is also a partner of one of Canada’s largest swine veterinary practices, Prairie Swine Health Services, and is a consultant with the Canadian Pork Council. He has received numerous awards and recognitions such as the Industry Ambassador Award from the Alberta Pork Congress in 2014 and the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association Presidents Recognition Award in 2015.

“While its clear Egan’s path has taken him in a slightly different direction, from cattle to pigs, he still has ties with the beef industry through his family farm. I think his career path is a prime example of “grow with future, but don’t forget your roots”,” says Zukowski.

The Aggies decided to donate a portion of this year’s gala funds raised to help the U of L Curling team travel to nationals in Fredericton, NB. Another portion of the funds were donated to The Do More Agriculture Foundation, a non-profit which promotes mental health awareness for farmers. In Canada, 35 per cent of producers classify with depression symptoms, 45 per cent with high stress and 58 per cent are suffering from anxiety.

“I cannot think of a better foundation that helps those in Ag who need it most and that needs to be talked about more,” says Aggies club president, Luke Radau, a fourth-year agricultural studies student who transferred from Lethbridge College.

The Aggies began the school year with 40 members, and have since grown to 81. Some of the club organized events this past year have included: a tour of the Roger’s Sugar Beet Factory, Career Industry Night, Bar None, an ugly sweater Christmas bowling party, the annual –UL Barn Burner fundraiser dance, club nights basketball games, the Tiffin Conference, Ag Awareness Day, a tour of the Kasko Cattle Company feedlot, and PBR bull riding. The club will soon be on a tour of Origins Brewery in Strathmore, and have planned an axe throwing night to end the year with a fun activity.

Last year, the Aggies began the –UL Beef project by purchasing a steer and feeding it to finish at Ryan Kasko’s feedlot in August. The steer went in at 1,209 pounds, and was shipped in January at 1,701 lbs. During the tour of the Kasko feedlot, Ryan taught the students about the feedlot business and how he integrates software into helping make decisions and managing cattle. The data from feeding the steer was collected by Ryan and the Aggies’ –UL Beef Project Representative, Brendan Konyenbelt, a third-year agricultural biotechnology major and co-op student.

“We now have close to one year’s worth of data collected and we will be able to integrate the data into real world problems in Jeff Davidson’s Ag Modelling 3300 class at the U of L,” says Radau. “We look forward to continuing this partnership we have between Ryan Kasko and the U of L Ag Club into the future. Ryan has also been instrumental to our club’s overall success in his support and generosity, especially so we can put on events like the Grow the Future Gala.”

The Club has also been actively involved in the community by participating in blood drives, donating to the campus food bank, volunteering for the Agriculture in the Classroom program, and dog walking at the Lethbridge Animal Shelter.

“If you would like to be part of a great community that promotes agriculture at the University, or if you are interested in an agriculture career, summer job, or just looking to make friends with other people from rural communities – join us,” says Radau. “Feel free to learn more by following us on Instagram @agclub_uleth, requesting to join our Facebook page (U of L Aggies), or emailing us for more information at:”