At what will be one of the most memorable Calgary Stampedes to date, two Ponoka area young ranchers made a few memories of their own.
Carling and Tyson Matejka were awarded scholarships by the Stampede’s International Youth Livestock Scholarship (IYLS) program for their involvement with cattle.
Carling, a senior IYLS competitor, received a $2,000 scholarship and Tyson, an intermediate competitor, received $1,000. Both were given a limited edition buckle that was produced for all 55 scholarship winners.
Carling competed in a provincial beef heifer show in Olds several years ago and from there, because she knew the people who organized the Summer Synergy Show, it was a natural evolution to the IYLS competition.
The Summer Synergy Show is a week-long collaboration between the Stampede and the Olds Agricultural Society.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Carling, who received a scholarship last year as well. She remembers the stands were completely full when the 55 winners were brought up on stage. “Even in the standing area, there was no room for anyone else.”
Contenders had to compete in five different components to be eligible for the scholarship. Based on how they did in each event they were awarded points.
The events were: marketing, conformation with animals, showmanship, team judging and multi-judging.
“It takes a lot of research to make sure you don’t offend a sponsor. You want to be creative.” Carling said each competitor had to have a good understanding of training animals, how to use a ring, show stick and halter, how a ring works as well as information on the breeds and species and the different parts and cuts of an animal.
“We’re competing against the top kids, at least in Western Canada,” Carling said. But there were also competitors from Australia and Ontario.
Tyson also finds that as the years go by the competition gets harder.
“The people just get wicked good,” Tyson said. “The judges start picking you off.”
Tyson received a $500 scholarship two years ago, at age12 years old, but he isn’t in it just for the money. “It’s the friends you make. It’s like playing a sport.”
Although it’s more years down the road than he can think about, Tyson plans to help his father on the farm and at the Calgary Bull Show. He also plans to get his engineering degree.
Other winners of an IYLS scholarship include Jessica Sperber of Rimbey and Wacey Townsend of Sylvan Lake.
The 55 winners were chosen from a group of 350 competitors from western Canada.
Carling, along with Tessa Nybo of Sundre, Luke Marshall of Innisfail and Chad Lorenz of Markerville, also received an all-expenses paid trip to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Exhibition in March 2013.
This group will look at how the Houston program runs their multi-judging and the scholarship program, which is different than Calgary’s, says Carling.
They will represent the Calgary Stampede International Junior Livestock Committee, interact with agricultural youth from Texas, and observe the Houston Scholarship program to report back to the Calgary committee on ways to enhance its program.