Not just for cowboys

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April 10, 2019
Amber L'Heureux is making history.
Amber L'Heureux
The Lakeland alumna is the first professional female chuckwagon driver to purchase an official membership to the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association (CPCA). When the horn sounds to kick off the 2019 CPCA season on May 31 in North Battleford, Sask., L’Heureux will navigate the barrels as a trailblazer – the only woman to do so in the circuit’s six-decade history.
 
“I am excited to get racing. The pressure for me is that I don’t want to let anyone down,” says L’Heureux, Class of 2013 animal health technology. “This is what I have been working towards for so long. I know if I put in the work and the dedication and keep everything rolling, it’ll be great. I just want to do everyone proud.”
 
Racing is a family affair for L’Heureux, whose journey to the CPCA started well before she could even walk. L’Heureux’s mother raced pony chariots, her father drove pony wagons and her grandfather competed too, and she was on the road with them by the time she was three months old. At the age of 14, L’Heureux picked up the reins to a small chariot and two ponies, and at 16 she raced pony chuckwagons. In 2014, L’Heureux became the first female chuckwagon driver to compete in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in Texas.
 
“It was something I always wanted to do,” says L’Heureux, who calls Glaslyn, Sask., home. “In Grade 3 or 4, we were asked to write down what we wanted to be when we grow up. I remember a lot of my friends wanted to be doctors or marine biologists, but I wrote how I wanted to be a chuckwagon driver. I find it funny now looking back at my aspirations in life and how they’ve come true.”
 
News of L’Heureux becoming a CPCA driver has garnered her media attention. From local newspapers to the Western Producer, the 26-year-old says she’s taking it all in stride. “It’s exciting but I have been working at this for so long that I didn’t think it would be this big of a story, but it’s turning out to be,” she says.
 
From the stands, there will be no mistaking which wagon is L’Heureux’s. With her signature hot pink sparkly rig, fans will be able to spot L’Heureux and cheer her on, which is something she doesn’t take lightly. “I remember being the little kid out there watching in the stands and looking up to ​everybody, and that for me is a lot of pressure. I want every little girl to know there is no limit to what they can do,” she says.
 
Clean and competitive is how L’Heureux plans to climb the CPCA standings, and it’s what she says will help her to reach her goal. “I would like to win Rookie of the Year – that’s my biggest goal, but you have to have little goals in order to get to the big ones,” she says. “Being a wagon driver is very much 80 per cent mental and 20 per cent physical because the horses are pulling the wagon. If you have your mental game on strong, then you have a pretty good footing to go out there.”
 
With her first season in the CPCA fast approaching, L’Heureux has a lot of work to do. Her own physical preparations include weight training and as a new driver she’s also working on sponsorship opportunities. Moreover, L’Heureux has 18 new horses to train. She finds herself drawing on some of the foundational knowledge – including nutrition and pharmacology – as well as the applied learning opportunities she had at Lakeland.
 
“Everything I learned at college was a building block for my training program. The instructors are wonderful and I can’t say enough good words about Lakeland – it was a great two years of my life. A lot of people thought it was crazy, but I raced both summers while I was in college,” says L’Heureux, who spent four years in the field as a veterinary technician after graduation.
 
“I have my dream job now because I went to Lakeland, worked as a tech and that opened the doors for so many things with my racing ultimately. It was a great part of what got me to where I am now.”
 
To keep track of L’Heureux’s racing news and for sponsorship information, visit pinkwagon.ca.
 
Photos: In 2014, Amber L’Heureux became the first female chuckwagon driver to compete in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in Texas. She also competed in other races, including one St. Walburg, Sask., (pictured). As the first professional female chuckwagon driver to purchase an official membership to the CPCA, L'Heureux is excited to take on the half mile of hell and climb the standings. Photos courtesy of Just Enjoy Photography.
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With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

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Senior Human Resources Consultant

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Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

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– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

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– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

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Choosing to attend Lakeland College was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life so far. The welcoming and friendly Lakeland environment encourages a place of excellence, and fosters the ability to be successful not only in school, but in life.

– Mariah Van’t Hof

University Transfer, Class of 2015

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I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

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Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

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Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

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Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

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I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

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Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

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I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

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Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience

What Alumni Say
The hands-on field trips, quality of education i received, professors who are invested in your success, and all the friends I made. I exceeded my academic expectations and I also had a lot of fun. If i had to do it all over gain, i would choose Lakeland!

– Nicole (Audet) Pysh

Class of 2006, Environmental Protection & Class of 2008, Applied Environmental Degree