Celebrating Canadian Agriculture at the Calgary Stampede – Erin Stuart

Living in downtown Calgary directly across from Stampede grounds, I look forward to the ten days of Stampede every year – it’s a fantastic kick-off to summer.

This year was no different, I enjoyed corporate events, the rodeo, a pancake breakfast or two, the fireworks and time with friends and family.

image1 (1).jpegTo celebrate the event and the ag women involved in it, I spoke with Erin Stuart, Past Chair of the Beef Cattle Committee, to hear her perspective on Stampede and her advice for others in the industry. Erin’s been a CS volunteer since May 2012. Thanks for your input, Erin!

 1) What’s your favourite part of Stampede/What does Stampede mean to you?

My first stampede memories were of showing my first cutting horse Doctana at the CS Youth Cutting competition in the Big Top when I was nine years old (I’m now 31!!).

When I finished my Masters of Science and moved home from Lincoln, Nebraska I joined the Beef Cattle Committee. It is a relatively small committee but it is made up of such a wonderful group of people. Some of us have Ag backgrounds and some of us don’t- but everyone brings their best. The variety of skill sets and backgrounds the group has creates an excellent experience for our guests and makes being a volunteer a lot of fun. I have made some wonderful friends who share a passion for the organization and giving back to the committee.

My Dad, Byron Hussey, was a Stampede Volunteer for a number of years and recently completed his tenth year as a member of the Calgary Stampede Board of Directors. My Mom, Pat Hussey has supported him during all of those years and has a birthday that falls during Stampede. We have a wonderful tradition of going for dinner and watching the Chuckwagon Races and Grandstand Show as a family on her birthday. My younger sister, Kiersten, has worked at the Lazy S for a number of years. That being said, the Stampede has very much been a part of our family for twenty years. We all have our individual Stampede commitments year round and daily activities on park during the ten day festivities but make time to get together as a family and enjoy ourselves.

The family time we get to share on park, the friends I have made, and the opportunity to give back to the community are some of my favourite things about Stampede.

 2) Why do you volunteer with Stampede?

Growing up in rural Alberta and studying science and agriculture in university fostered a passion for agriculture and all of the great things that the industry does to ensure that our food is safe. Farmers and ranchers utilize good production practices that ensure animals are raised humanely, the environment is respected, and resources are used efficiently. The Stampede does an excellent job of sharing this information with park guests year round and during the ten day festivities and I am very proud to be able to contribute my time and knowledge.

3) Advice for other women wanting to get involved in industry events?

Get involved!! We all have knowledge and skills to contribute and it is very rewarding to participate in and contribute to industry events. You’ll meet people and establish friendships with people that you may not have met otherwise.



Contributed by Krista Goranson
Interview content by Erin Stuart

Krista works in business and agriculture and lives in downtown Calgary. Follow Krista on Twitter @kristagg1.




Thank you Dad

Today is a special day for celebrating Dads.  Every year leading up to father’s day, I find myself in the same bind – frantically scanning the card section at a retail outlet for a nice father’s day card to give to my dad.  I scan through the plethora of images of baseball gear, hockey equipment, golf clubs, tools, trophies, hunting and fishing gear, sailboats and the litany of catch phrases to the effect of “you’re the best”, “#1 Dad”, “to the Dad who does it all”, “take a load off today”, and “thanks for putting up with me”.  And although I feel that these catch phrases are true about my dad, I’m faced with the same dilemma – how do I possibly choose a card that adequately describes how proud of and grateful I am for my dad?

Because the things we really want to thank you for, Dads, are the every day things.  For teaching us the ups and downs of life, how to ride the waves, and helping us back up when we fall.  It’s the impromptu conversations in the alleyway in the barn or while we’re working in the shop or field that provide guidance in a subtle (or not so subtle!) way.  For giving us tough love when we needed it, yet also knowing when we’ve needed a friend.  For teaching us the cycle of life on the farm; teaching us how to empathize, how to care for and respect other living things, and what it means to work hard for what we want.   For reminding us that it’s not just about winning – it’s about teamwork and having fun along the way.  For building our confidence in knowing that we can do anything the next person can do – and never mind our gender, age, or colour.  For showing this is true by empowering, supporting and advocating for other members of our families, communities, and circle of friends.  For being there to teach us the very basic skills in life and for knowing that your support is still irreplaceable in adult life.

So, here’s to all the dads.  The dads who that parent in a partnership.  The dads who tackle parenting alone.  To the dads who co-parent.  The dads who aren’t biologically so.  Thanks to all the dads who no longer walk the earth, but whose voices are never forgotten, life lessons are never lost, and souls are always felt.  Thanks to all the dads that make or have made our families and communities vibrant, and better yet, have taught their children to do the same.  Thank you, Dad.

Cravings Sold Separately – Local Food Week and Women

Warning, by reading this blog I claim no responsibility for the cravings your feel or the money you may spend at a local market this week. Topic may be sensitive to some readers and cause hunger pangs or drooling.

It’s local food week! So what? Why should we care? Many reasons! When I think local food, my brain jumps to sense filled thoughts of walking into a farmer’s market with all the fresh aromatic strawberries and the rich, bright colours of the vegetable cooler. It’s a superb time to celebrate the fantastic foods grown nearby.


Cambridge Farmers Market

Women play a large role in local food. As shared in the Ontario Farmer last week by Alex Binkley, horticulture has the largest agricultural sector of female managers at 25%. This doesn’t account for the numbers of women who share management duties. I realize horticulture is NOT the only provider of local food, but let’s help them out and support! When food is purchased from a market or direct from the farm, a larger portion of the profits go directly to the farmer. Local food travels less distance, often removing middle people, therefore increasing profit potential for growers and local sellers. So let’s aim to bump that 25% female managers to 50%! By purchasing local food, you are supporting your own, local economy. When you put into the local economy, we usually get back. We all do better when the economies in our local communities are strong. Women make up the majority of small-scale farms in the world, but have a much smaller portion of the wealth or land ownership. When purchasing or buying locally, you allow smaller farmers to reinvest, grow, or diversify, further stabilizing their business. 

Have you every participated in a berry U-pick? Or consumed food that was harvested earlier that day? Its undeniable, it just tastes better. One of my first jobs was picking peas and berries for my aunt and uncle’s local farm and market. Perhaps it was the reward that accompanied the job, but those small harvests’ tasted the best. Later, in my university years, I spent a summer helping to conduct research for berry genetics for blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. It was near impossible to resist “tasting the research” when harvesting, measuring, weighing, and counting the berries. Local food means its not long harvested or packaged and will be full of maximum deliciousness.


Downtown Windsor Farmers Market

Probably the coolest benefit of local food, is the sense of community created between growers, sellers, and consumers. Once I tried asking a grocery store employee what a durian fruit tastes like. His response, ” I know it smells like sh**.” This response is less likely when you purchase local food. At farmer’s markets, you can ask the butcher which particular cuts of pork pair well with other foods and how to prepare them. By nurturing the relationship between producer and consumer, we are ultimately improving the sense of community for everyone. Consumers like to know how produce is grown and raised and are more likely to trust someone they can discuss face to face with. Producers and sellers are able to interact and get feedback and concerns directly from the consumer. Eaters gain insight about the land, what is in season and their food.  Women play have a vast role through communicating, networking, and contextualizing these relationships as the main grocery purchasers and a growing population female farmers.

  • Robyn Walsh @walshrobyn

The Women in Ag’s Ultimate Playlist

canstockphoto0350088In honour of the Grammys last night, we thought we’d share our ultimate playlist inspired and created by women working in the agriculture industry. Forget helpless, heartbroken honeys pining away for their cowboys, this playlist is for women hauling feedbags, pulling calves, and working fields well into the night. It’s also for all the women who support those working to put food on our tables.

We think women in agriculture rock, and do does this playlist! What songs would you add to this list?

  1. Shania Twain – She’s Not Just A Pretty Face
  2. Destiny’s Child – Independent Woman
  3. No Doubt – Just a Girl
  4. Miranda Lambert – Fastest Girl in Town
  5. Martina McBride – This One’s For the Girl
  6. Sister C – Faint of Heart
  7. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Why walk when you can fly
  8. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
  9. Maddie & Tae – Girl in a Country Song
  10. Shania Twain – Man I Feel Like a Woman
  11. Chaka Kahn – I’m Every Woman
  12. Mindy McCready – Guys do it all the time
  13. Katy Perry – Roar
  14. Rachel Platten – Fight Song
  15. Pink – Raise Your Class
  16. Matreca Berg – Back in the Saddle
  17. Natasha Beddingfield – Unwritten
  18. Rascal Flatts – Stand
  19. Wailin Jennys – One Voice
  20. Hailee Steinfeld – Love Myself