The Business of Agriculture. A Lifelong Passion Comes Alive.
by Cassandra Travis-Bobey, Student Writer
Phyllis MacCallum’s passion for animals and agriculture led her to the University of Lethbridge, where she is reconnecting with her roots in pursuit of a promising future.
“I’ve been involved with agriculture and animals my whole life, and couldn’t imagine anything better than making a living off the things I love most,” she says. "Going to work every day is so much more fun when you really enjoy it."
Phyllis transferred to the U of L after completing her diploma in agriculture at Kemptville College in Ontario. She chose the U of L not just because it is a top-ranked university in Canada, but because it also has a unique agricultural program that ties agriculture, business and economics together. The Bachelor of Arts in Agricultural Studies with a concentration in Agricultural Business is a program that fits closely to Phyllis’s career goal of working in livestock market and analysis, examining trends in the cattle business.
Phyllis realized that transferring to the U of L and moving across Canada was exactly what she needed to do, “The move out West to Lethbridge from Vankleek Hill, Ont., was a big one for my family and I,” she recalls. “Although it was a huge move, I’m glad I did it. I love living in Lethbridge! The city has so much to offer and as a student I felt immediately at home.”
Phyllis has fully immersed herself in all the U of L has to offer and is active on and off campus, joining clubs and programs that have enhanced her university experience. By participating in the Co-op program at the U of L she has been able to complete more than 20 months of work experience, working with children and animals as well as working in the high-tech business world of Blackberry. “I love co-op because it gives students the ability to be diverse in the experiences they pursue without too tightly constricting them to their field of study,” says Phyllis, “I learned independence while exploring different opportunities related to my studies”.
Despite staying very busy with Co-op over the past several years, Phyllis finds time to get involved in clubs, competitions, debates and community activities that have helped her make invaluable industry and peer connections.
“University is the best time to learn who you are and discover those things that inspire you. Getting involved with clubs, special programs and community helps with this discovery and is a great way to connect with students, faculty and staff,” she says.
In the past couple years she has participated in a worldwide agriculture debate that addresses agricultural issues across the globe, giving her opportunities to network with industry leaders. She’s been named one of the top 24 Canadian Young Leaders in Canadian Cattleman’s Young Leadership Development Program in 2011 and 2012. Very recently Phyllis, and her team of peers, won the Agribusiness Sustainability Case Competition held at the University of Guelph. “The purpose of the case competition is to present a solution to a situation described to us. The topic can range from global stability to family farm production. We present our analysis and the solution we feel is most appropriate the audience. The judges will then ask any questions they feel need clarification for a proper understanding of our conclusion,” says Phyllis. To finish first overall was a proud moment for Phyllis and her team, alongside showcasing their dedication and passion for agriculture business, the win gave her the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa in summer 2014 for another business competition.