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B.C. ranching program puts students on farms

B.C. ranching program puts students on farms

Students work in exchange for room and board

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A British Columbia university offers students a unique way to enter the ag workforce.

Thompson Rivers University’s Applied Sustainable Ranching program places students on host farms for two years while they earn their diploma. Students can work on their home farms or choose to be placed on a farm in B.C. or another province.

The program, which is currently in its third year, is a good mix of traditional classroom learning and hands-on applications, said Gillian Watt, the program’s coordinator.

“Students are expected to do about 20 hours of schoolwork and 20 hours of farm work each week,” she told “The 20 hours of farm work is in exchange for room and board, and students are paid for anything above 20 hours. If they’re on a farm in a different province they can attend classes and do group work using BlueJeans, a video conferencing system.”

The host farms provide a list of job expectations and daily routines for prospective workers. The host producers also complete competency sheets that assess a student’s performance.

Students can choose to be placed on a farm that suits their interests, but they don’t have to remain on a single farm for the entirety of the program.

“While working on one farm, they might learn about another aspect of agriculture and want to explore that, so we try to match them with a farm where they can do that,” Watt said.

Signing up to be part of the program was an easy decision for some of the farmers.

An extra set of hands to help out around the farm is always appreciated, said Debbie Rainer, a cattle producer near Barriere, B.C.

“It’s a win-win for us if a student comes to help on the farm,” she told “More help is always needed and, for us, it’s exciting to help promote agriculture and be part of a young person’s journey into the industry.”

Comments (3)

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Dong Chen |Aug 29 2019 12:47AM
I should have added another thought...I am a Certified Equine Therapist of 11 years. I have put to use some of my learning & techniques that I learned in school. I took my 2 yrs of training through the BC College of Equine Therapy in Vernon BC. I have also developed some natural ways of healing horses and cattle with the use of essential oils and herbs on both the horses and cattle. I have also made my own blend of oils for natural fly repellent for both, as well.
Sue Gereau |Feb 19 2019 2:59AM
I think this is a fantastic idea. Having been in our local 4-H Beef Club for 12 yrs and the Beef Club leader of the same club for 7 yrs, I think that this university course could be introduced into the 4-H program for the senior club members, if it isn't already. There is so much that can be learned from other ranching operations. It was the 4-H Club that pushed me to get into the purebred beef cattle industry.
Sue Gereau |Feb 19 2019 2:46AM