Lara Agapow emerged as the winner of this year’s Thompson Rivers University Applied Sustainable Ranching Program’s 2021 Bull Pen Award.
Born in France, her family emigrated to Canada in 2000 and relocated to the Chilcotin in 2017.
Agapow, 23, spent time living on her family’s ranch, the Hanceville Cattle Company.
During the final year of the ranching program all of the students develop a plan which they pitch to the Bull Pen.
“It was a tough competition to win,”Agapow said, noting she did her project on Aggregate Acres Farm, made up of a market garden, in which she is focusing on highly digestible foods and eliminating night shade vegetables. She is also starting with a 50-hive honey bee enterprise, which is a strategic fit for the market garden and a custom grazing enterprise with 200 head on 400 acres of grazing land.
“I think it is important to educate people on the foods we are consuming,” she added.
Next she plans to apply to the University of Guelph for an MBA in Agriculture Business and continue working at Fox Dairy Farm south of Quesnel.
“I’m also gaining experience at a market garden at North Star House Farm, south of Quesnel in the Kersley area,” she said.
Being in the ranching program at TRU Williams Lake has provided her with lots of connections in the community and a great support network, she said.
“The on-farm practical, hands-on experience we get to do is great. We did many farm tours and had a variety of professional speakers come in. To look back it’s amazing to see my level of knowledge now compared to when I first started the program. It has been a 180-degree turn from a business standing.”
She’s graduated with a changed view of agriculture, she added.
Brian Garland supports the $1,000 Bull Pen award each year plus additional scholarships for students in the ranching program.
“I am happy to sponsor this award, “Garland said. “This program is a big part of the future because no one else is doing it. Right in the midst of mining and forestry, which can be fickle, to have something like a university that goes on forever is awesome.”
To compete for the award, the students pitch their plans in a Dragon’s Den-like format over 10 minutes.
The next intake in the fall of 2021 will be the ranching program’s seventh cohort.