Trio of builders newest members of hall of fame

From left to right: Cor Van Raay, Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier, Bob Prestage, and Dr. John Kennelly.
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Dr. John Kennelly, Bob Prestage, and Cor Van Raay are the newest inductees in the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Kennelly was chair of the University of Alberta’s department of agricultural, food and nutritional science and later dean of the faculty of agricultural, life & environmental sciences. One of the dairy industry’s most respected experts, he discovered, documented, and translated into practice critical breakthroughs in nutrition and feeding systems that resulted in major productivity gains. He also taught dairy science and nutrition to thousands of students and built world-renowned research programs from scratch. His achievements include founding the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar, doubling the size of the Dairy Research Technology Centre, and leading the establishment of the Agri-Food Discovery Place.

Prestage has been dedicated to beef cattle breeding and genetic programs in Alberta for more than 50 years. Early in his career, he developed the progeny test program for beef cattle, significantly improving the genetic pool of the Canadian cattle industry. He founded Wicklow Angus in Camrose and raised the profile of Angus beef in Canada and internationally. Prestage selected, processed and exported thousands of cattle to more than 20 countries, including marketing the first cattle to Russia to support the Alberta cattle industry’s recovery from BSE. He also supported Alberta breeders in selling cattle around the world by sharing his marketing expertise, hosting numerous international delegations, and judging at international cattle shows. A former reeve of Camrose County, Prestage has made many contributions to youth and community organizations and has received numerous industry and community awards including induction into the Alberta Angus Association Hall of Fame as a Breed Builder.

Van Raay helped mould the modern-day feedlot and set the bar in the Canadian cattle-feeding business. Starting with just 50 head of cattle, his feedlot in Iron Springs grew to be one of the largest in Canada. As an innovator and early adopter of technology, Van Raay implemented best practices and developed new operational efficiencies in large-scale feedlot operations, while focusing on sound environmental stewardship and improved animal-handling techniques. Van Raay’s “big-picture” thinking and strong work ethic helped launch several successful agribusinesses, including Butte Grain Merchants Ltd., Western Tractor, Van Raay Land Inc., and Sungold Specialty Meats Ltd., which is one of Canada’s largest producers of lamb. His financial contribution launched the Cor Van Raay Southern Alberta Agribusiness Program at the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College in 2014.

The Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame was created to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the agriculture and food industry and to the development and sustainability of rural life in Alberta. Since 1951, almost 130 Albertans have been inducted.

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