Alberta Farm Animal Care Association

Brenda Schoepp – “Interconnection Between Human and Animal Welfare”

Brenda is a businesswoman from Alberta where she actively ranches and operates an equine rescue operation. She enjoys a young, vibrant client base as a business coach and mentor for men and women in eight nations.  She has recently completed her Nuffield Scholarship entitled: The Development of Mentorship Programs for Women in Agriculture – A Global Perspective.

As a published author, she has written over 200 articles on animal welfare, particularly on shrinkage in cattle. Her work in agriculture and food systems is featured by media in 36 countries, in classrooms on World Food Day in the UK, by USDA Resource Conservation, extensively with Future Farmers of America and she was featured at the 2015 Global Economic Summit in Mumbai. Brenda is a strong supporter of rural communities and a professional speaker.

Marion Popkin – “All About Rabbits”

Marion Popkin has a 100 doe farm in Northern Alberta. She is an active volunteer for Alberta Rabbit Producers in Alberta. She also serves on the Commercial Rabbit Committee for the American Rabbit Breeder Association.  She serves as a director for the Alberta Federation of Agriculture and travels across Canada on their behalf. She is currently volunteering on developing the Canadian Rabbit Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals. The NFACC rabbit code of practice is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. She loves coaching equestrian sports and works full time in safety for a small nondestructive testing company in the Peace Country.

Marion entered into the rabbit world in 2008. She was fascinated by a developing breed of pet rabbit called the Lionhead. She acquired some breeding stock from the States and while there, started looking at some of the other 49 recognized breeds of rabbits. As a farmer, she saw some possibilities for the development of the meat rabbit market.

Dr. Alexandra Harlander, DVM and DVSc Vienna, PhD Hohenheim – “Hot Topics in Poultry Welfare”

Dr. Alexandra Harlander is a Board-Certified Veterinary Expert in Animal Welfare, Ethics, and Law (European Veterinary College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine, United Kingdom). Her research looks at the impact husbandry can have on physiology and behaviour and the objective assessment of poultry welfare.

Dr. Jennifer Walker, DVM, PhD, Dip. ACVPM – “Animal Welfare at the Intersection Between Politics, Policy, Profit & People”

A California Native, Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s in Animal Science (1994) and her DVM (2000) from the University of California at Davis. As an associate veterinarian in a California practice specializing in dairy herd health she developed her interests in on-farm education, udder health and animal welfare. In 2010 she completed her PhD in Veterinary Preventive Medicine at The Ohio State University where she also minored in University Education. Her work in education included the development and delivery of a graduate level course, “Current Issues in Animal Welfare” in addition to serving as in Assistant Instructor for the required veterinary ethics course, leading lectures on humane euthanasia and animal handling.

Jennifer joined Dean Foods as their Director of Dairy Stewardship in July of 2010. In this role she has been putting to use her expertise in on farm milk quality and passion for animal welfare by working with customers, suppliers, dairy farmers to develop an industry wide standard that promotes the good welfare of dairy cattle. Over the last five years she has had a firsthand view of the intersection between politics, policy, profit and people and how it can drive positive change in animal welfare as much as it can hinder it.

Leona Dargis – “Animal Welfare Around the World”

Leona is an accomplished motivational and inspirational speaker whose speaking engagements have not only taken her across North America but the world. Her story began in rural North Eastern Alberta. She is the eldest of five daughters who were raised on their family farm consisting of 7,000 acres of cropland and a 4,000 head feedlot. Together they learned the values of hard work, perseverance and gratitude. After the sudden passing of her parents in 2007, Leona and her sisters carried on their legacy in continuing to operate the farm business all while supporting each other to pursue their dreams. Earlier that same year Leona graduated from Olds College with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness.

Her leadership role in representing the next generation in agriculture is global. Her past commitments to organizations like the Canadian Young Farmers Forum and the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth have awarded her one of three prestigious Canadian Nuffield Scholarships in 2011. This enabled her to study the topic of succession planning and farm diversification around the world. She traveled to countries such as: India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Her most recent trips to Africa gave her a hands-on experience on the importance of subsistence farming and education, which she treasures most. She leads by setting an example and will share her stories that exemplify how to take unimaginable change, adapt to it and succeed.

Curt Pate and Lorna Gibson – “Sheep Handling/ Body Condition Scoring Demo”

For more than a decade, Curt Pate has conducted demonstrations and clinics on stockmanship, colt starting and ranch horsemanship throughout North America and Europe. A nationally recognized stockmanship instructor, Pate teaches techniques on how to put the proper pressure on animals at a different angle and at varying amounts to help move them comfortably and without a negative experience – for the stockman or the livestock.

‘Sometimes you cannot see pressure or understand its effects until it has created a problem. When you force livestock to go into a pen, they may get excited, go on the fight, and become dangerous or very difficult to work. Negative pressure creates stress, positive pressure creates contentment,’ Pate says.

Pate has been handling sheep since childhood with the family farm flock, worked on a very large sheep operation in Montana, as well as selling and buying sheep on his own operations.

Lorna along with her husband Bill have been sheep farming together north east of Lacombe, for the past 30 years. At present they have downsized their flock to 125 East Friesian Dorset cross ewes. In the late 1980 and 90’s Lorna was involved in the research and development of the Canadian National Lamb Grading System.

In central Alberta Lorna is known as the “Sheep Lady.” She developed and previously taught courses for the Alberta Lamb Producers entitled “Sheep Production 101” and has written a manual.  She has also produced four You-Tube video’s on sheep management and the topics include Predation, Nutrition, Lambing and Health.

Lorna believes proper nutrition is the number one component of a successful sheep operation and Body Condition Scoring is an important step in evaluating your sheep flocks level of nutrition.

"When Manure Hits the Fan"

Darren Vanstone

Darren started working in restaurants and catering while attending the University of Alberta.  After graduation he moved to operations positions at Sobeys and Sunterra Markets.  After a stint working for Starbucks, Darren returned to Sobeys to lead the development of Urban Fresh stores in Alberta and Ontario.  In 2012, he joined what was then WSPA as Corporate Engagement Manager.

In his current role Darren helps manage the organization’s local and global partnership work and is World Animal Protection’s representative on the National Farm Animal Care Council and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Brandy Street

Brandy grew up on a small farm in rural Saskatchewan where she fell in love with animals and the farm lifestyle. A University of Saskatchewan graduate, Brandy holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture, majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Business. Brandy also holds a Masters degree in Applied Ethology; the study of animal behaviour. Brandy’s graduate studies examined the effects of group size and space allowance on pig behaviour, health and productivity.

After working for the Prairie Swine Centre and Manitoba Agriculture, Brandy joined the BC SPCA’s farm animal welfare team. Today she oversees national expansion activities for the program, including producer recruitment, education initiatives and partnership development within the food retail sector.

Jackie Wepruk

Jackie Wepruk has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg, and a Master of Environmental Design from the University of Calgary. Upon completing her master’s degree, Jackie was involved in a variety of farm animal welfare contracts with the Alberta Farm Animal Care Association (AFAC) and other farm organizations.

She participated in efforts that led to the creation of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) in 2005 and is the general manager of the organization. In this capacity she facilitates a partnership between farmed animal industries, governments, the veterinary community, the humane movement and other allied groups to advance farm animal welfare in Canada

Michelle Follensbee

Michelle was raised in northeast Saskatchewan and attend the University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in animal science. Her interest in animal behaviour and animal welfare took her to the University of Guelph where we completed a Master of Science in Agriculture. Her studies focused on the nesting motivation of domestic hens.

Michelle currently works for the province of Alberta in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Her duties include oversight of a small and talented team who: deliver programs to improve food animal welfare in the province, provide animal welfare and animal protection policy recommendations to senior executives within AF and, oversee the provinces Animal Protection Act and Regulation.

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