How ‘Team Erika’ Came To Be….
Almost two years ago now in June 2012, at the BC Cattlemen’s AGM in Fort St. John, is when I (Erika Strande) officially met Erika Fossen for the first time. I knew who she was from articles about her and her family in the Beef in BC magazine. The Fossens do some direct marketing of their beef to a local ski hill and restaurant, which at the time I was just starting to do in my area, so was always intrigued with it. At the AGM I was briefly introduced to the Fossens and Erika and I immediately checked how our names were spelt and then quickly congratulated each other for having the correctly spelt way! (eri‘k’a not eri‘c’a)
At the same time at the AGM, I had just been notified that I had been accepted to take part in a Canadian Cattlemen’s program called Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL). This program is a 8 month mentorship, where each mentee is matched with a mentor in the area of the cattle industry that they are interested in. In addition to the mentorship, the mentee also receives a budget to attend different industry events and meetings to network and gain a better understand of the political side of the CCA (Canadian Cattlemen’s Association) the national governing body of the Canadian cattle producers. Earlier that April 2012, I flew to Saskatoon and met with 25 other young beef enthusiasts from across the country to compete for 1 of the 15 spots in the mentorship program.
I was lucky enough to be one of those 15 and graduated from the program in March 2013. The program has truly been a life enriching experience. I met 15 other people from across Canada who are super inspiring people who know so much about so many different aspects of the beef industry. In addition, I met people who have many years of knowledge and experience in the industry who were genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge with us young producers. Last, but not least I got to meet and really got to know Erika, Doug and their family. It has been great to have somebody to talk to about ideas, frustrations, or just day to day aspects of the industry.
It was our love of bovine that initially brought the ‘Erika’s’ together, but in getting to know each other our similarities became uncanny! We found we had A LOT in common besides the spelling of our first names! Flying to Ottawa for the CYL graduation event in conjunction with CCA annual meeting and were standing in line at Starbucks and ordered the same drink! We laughed and chalked it up to coincidence, but then the similarities just kept coming. Over New Years we were partying with some of our best friends in Merrit and her sister and husband from Alberta and then realized they are Erika and Doug’s best friends from college! We have the same taste in clothing and have the exact same shirt, boots and jeans. If one of us is wearing something, the other usually says, ‘I love that and was planning on getting it!” Most recently, ‘other Erika’ posted the blog “January scenes” and I saw we have the same Stormy Kromer women’s felt winter cap! We also have a very similar sense of humor, sarcastic and slightly weird, and when we are together we laugh a lot!
It is really cool in life how two people can be brought together! What started out as just an eight month program, turned into the beginning of a wonderful life-long friendship!
*Disclaimer* Sorry about the selfie I just wanted to prove that we DO have the same hats!!
The Erika’s at the BC Cattlemen’s Association AGM in Vernon.
The Erika’s at BC Beef Day in Victoria.