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JUNIOR OF THE YEAR – CHARLENE SEREDA

When Charlene Sereda is enthused about something, she’s all in. Salers cattle happen to be one of her passions, and that’s clear as she discusses bloodlines and performance of the family’s herd. Sereda’s dedication and desire helped her earn the Canadian Salers 2014 Junior of the Year award.

Sereda and her family started out in the Calgary area, but moved their cattle operation to near Big Valley in 2006. She was involved in the 4-H program with both beef and horse projects. “I learned a lot about fitting, clipping and judging with my beef project,” said Sereda. She struggled, though, with having to sell her steer project at the end of the year, so she decided to focus on her horse project, staying in 4-H for eight years. However, her love of cows continued to grow.

Her father, Wayne, switched into Salers cattle by purchasing stock when Don Chalmers dispersed his herd. “Our friend Gerry Isley had Salers,” explained Charlene. “I’ve always been hands-on involved with our cows.” Sereda began her own direct involvement with the breed by claiming a Dynarich Salers cow named Lacy purchased by the family. “She had a bull calf, and I named him Taz, and we sold him to Depalmes. That was the first year we were in the New Trend Salers Sale (in Olds). That was my first (sale). He was a cool guy.” “That’s also when I learned that ‘socializing’ the bulls is a good thing. I go out and talk to them, and sit in the feeder. Fifteen minutes a day is all it takes. If you do that every day, by the time the sale comes around, they’re completely handle-able. By socializing them and making sure they’re gentle, and understand people, it gives them a better chance to become a herd sire”.

Socializing isn’t only for the bulls! Sereda has made a point of using the world of social media to spread the word on Salers and their own cattle. She built a Facebook page for Sereda Stock Farms just before last year’s bull sale. “I started taking pictures last winter. I would take my camera when I was putting out hay and snap pictures,” Sereda noted. Posting them seemed to catch people’s attention, and the ‘likes’ began to climb. But it also generated some business interest. “A guy from Ontario came out and looked at Junior Of The Year Award Charlene Sereda Sereda Stock Farms Big Valley, AB bulls and was interested, and he found us through Facebook. It really opens up a whole new market”.

Sereda graduated from high school with honors in 2014, and is spending the year working with her cattle and horses, before pursuing further education. She believes working with cattle has really helped her personal development, admitting in her younger years, she wasn’t very enthusiastic about helping her father. “But he started getting me more into the raising of the cattle and the bull sale side of it. Then I was the one going out to feed cows, when he went back to work full-time. I was amazed. There’s a huge sense of responsibility there that just drives you. I didn’t understand that before, until I had to do it myself.” “The cattle have really helped me grow as a person, to understand that drive, and find the motivation. They take so much work. But it’s very fulfilling. You get a great sense of accomplishment for doing it. You see cows happy and warm, chewing their cud, and know you did that”.

Horses are a still big part of Sereda’s life, as she competes on the reining circuit. She and her eight-year-old mare Cee Chicadee, or Livvy, as Sereda calls her, have been a great team. She was thrilled to win a buckle at the Canadian Supreme in Red Deer this fall. But her working cow horse really does cow work at home on the ranch!

While the 18-year-old isn’t exactly sure of her career path yet, she does know cattle and horses will definitely be part of it. “I think I would go crazy if I wasn’t in agriculture or working with animals,” she laughed. “I know that I want to have animals involved with the rest of my life”.

by Dianne Finstad