Go west, young man: internship experiences in Alberta

The third in our series of internship profiles, this article highlights the experience of Devin Keenan, one of our adventurous students who travelled over 3,000 KM to work on a dairy farm in Alberta for the summer.

Devin poses at Mars Dairy in Stettler, AB where he spent his summer working as part of the Agricultural Internship course (photo: Caroline Begg)Devin poses at Mars Dairy in Stettler, AB where he spent his summer working as part of the Agricultural Internship course (photo: Caroline Begg)It takes a lot of courage to leave the routines of everyday work for an internship in a new place, but it takes an extra dose of bravery to travel across time zones to spend an entire summer working somewhere with a family you have never met and sometimes working in a different language.

Twelve Farm Management students broadened their horizons and stepped out of their comfort zones and into the unknown to complete their Agricultural Internship (stage). Three travelled to Europe (the Netherlands and Switzerland), and nine travelled to Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Devin KeenanMars Dairy Ltd.

From a dairy farm in Cleveland, QC, Devin Keenan decided to travel to Mars Dairy Ltd. owned by the Schrijver family in Stettler, AB for his Agricultural Internship. “I didn’t know much about this farm before coming here. It was my brother who visited this farm last year on a 4-H exchange who really recommended this place for me to do my stage” explained Devin.

One of his learning objectives was to work in a parlour setting which he achieved as one of his daily tasks was to milk their 230 Holsteins in their double twelve parlour (the farm milks three times a day).

“Mars Dairy is one of the top BCA producers in all of Alberta and Canada so just to be involved in this atmosphere and learn about feeding and crop strategies to health and management perspectives has really opened my mind to new ideas and encouragements to bring home,” wrote Devin.

When asked how he had changed over the first half of his internship, Devin wrote: “I think just more confidence working in the dairy sector and having learned a lot more about the dairy industry as a whole and gaining more knowledge…and I can now fit back in the belt loop from when I first started at Mac!”

Devin’s abilities have also expanded while working so far from home. “I have definitely been given more responsibility since I have started here as I am now doing most of these tasks alone,” he declared in his mid-stage report. “The main thing that has changed is my ability to do things quicker and with more confidence.”

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This article was originally published in the September 2018 issue of the QFA Advocate on the Macdonald Reports page.

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