The Canadian Cattle Association has a program that offers mentorships to young Canadians who are involved in the cattle industry.

"I'm currently a participant in the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program, which is a national youth initiative of the Canadian Cattle Association that provides young people aged 18 to 35 with industry specific training and mentorship opportunities," explained Ashley Nicholls. 

Originally from a small community in Australia, once Nicholls made his way to Canada, he began working in Kananaskis at a variety of recreational facilities with youth.

From there, Nicholls got into horseback riding and then ranching.

Nicholls heard about this Youth Program from a coworker of his and decided to apply.

"As a participant, you put in an application, which is some short answer questions in, kind of, essay form. From there, they select the 24 semi-finalists to participate in a selections committee and you go to the Canadian Beef Industry Conference, which happens in August each year," says Nicholl.

At the selections committee, the 24 semi-finalists participate in a series of round-table discussions and other industry-related activities.

From there, they select the top 16 candidates who will move on to the program.

"I'm currently in the program. Each of the 16 participants gets paired with an industry professional who is top of their field in whatever area that you are looking to focus in," says Nicholls. 

Nicholls mentor is an expert in livestock behaviour and animal welfare from Ohio.

In July, Nicholls will be heading down to meet up with his mentor, who has worked closely with Dr. Temple Grandin.

During his trip, he will also get to meet Dr. Grandin, whose concept of Low Stress Cattle Handling is similar to what Nicholls has set out to achieve.

"She is a person with Autism, and because of that, she was able to get into the mind of the cattle and see what they saw. She would get low on the ground, she could see dark and light changes. She could see a chain hanging on the fence that would distract the animals and she developed a system to help the cattle move through processing systems more effectively," explains Nicholls.

But Nicholls has decided to flip that concept and focus on Low Stress People Handling.

"In agriculture in general, we have all heard the stories of families going into the corals and they come out and mom and dad are yelling at one another and the kids don't want to work cattle anymore and somebody else is yelling, because the tractor is stuck. We have all seen these things happen before. What I want to do is work with agricultural operations and go in and focus on Low Stress People Handling," says Nicholls.

He adds that the two share the same concept.

If a person is under a lot of pressure, or if they feel like they are at a dead-end at their jobs, the person will eventually crumble and get out of that situation and into a better one.

In fact, he has already created a business doing just that called REACH Agriculture Strategies, after his mother-in-law gifted him a business license for Christmas.

"REACH is going to provide cultural development consulting to ag operations. So, going in and working with management and with their teams to develop on-boarding structures and training structures and then break down communications styles within the operation and we can develop that to lower turnover and increase employee satisfaction."

Nicholls hopes that one day the program he develops will be used worldwide.

To learn more about what Nicholls is working on, head over to the REACH website.

To learn more about the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program, click here.