Lakeland wins Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Case Competition

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October 31, 2018
Lakeland College agribusiness students earned first place at the fourth annual Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Case Competition in Lethbridge on Saturday, Oct. 27.
“We were completely in shock when they announced our names. We thought of ourselves as underdogs, so to come out on top was amazing,” says Hannah Olsen, a member of Lakeland’s case team.
Lakeland’s team of Olsen, Abby Black, Bethan Lewis and Bailey Hofstra was one of 11 teams from five post-secondary institutions from Alberta and Saskatchewan that competed. Darla Stepanick and Cole Ambrock, agribusiness instructors and the team’s co-coaches, are thrilled about the outcome.
“The moment they came out of the presentation room, I knew they nailed it. They had to complete a strategic business plan for an American dairy company,” says Stepanick, noting that Lakeland’s solution was improving a marketing strategy to focus wholesome products and passion for quality food.
Teams had four hours to analyze a case, develop a solution and prepare a 15-minute presentation to three judges – a University of Lethbridge professor, a Lethbridge College professor and a local lawyer.
“When we found out it was a dairy case, we knew it would play to our team’s strengths. Two of us have dairy experience, so it was something we were excited and confident about. I don’t think there was anything we did that we wanted to do better,” Olsen says. 
In addition to a first place trophy and a $500 cash prize, the students returned to Lakeland with heightened skills in teamwork, problem-solving and networking.
It was their exemplary teamwork and passion for agriculture that got them to the top spot, says Stepanick. “The judges approached me afterward and said our students had blown their minds saying, ‘They had an intimacy with agriculture,’ as in they showed a passion for agriculture that no other school showed. You can know agriculture but it’s the students that live and breathe it that stand out, and they said that was the difference.”
Lakeland’s case team is one of three in the Student-Managed Enterprise (SME), in which second-year agribusiness students connect theory with real business scenarios. What the team completed in four hours is what they usually achieve in a week in the SME course.
Joining Lakeland on the podium were the University of Saskatchewan in second place and the University of Lethbridge in third.
The unique, two-day competition is tailored to students attending a post-secondary institution and in any year of study. In teams of up to five members, they participate in professional development activities as well as network with industry professionals. It's co-hosted by the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College.
​Photo by Joel Varjassy: Lakeland's Cor Van Raay Agribusiness Case Competition team celebrated their win with Cor Van Raay (centre).