July 11, 2019

We're hiring – and this office might have the best view in Alberta

UCalgary recruits for range rider to work at W.A. Ranches

Editor's note: The posting for the position of range rider has closed.

As the Calgary Stampede winds down toward its final weekend of 2019, life will soon return to normal around the city. 

The boots and hats, the fringe and sequins, the western-trimmed garb and extra denim all go back into the recesses of the closet until they’re needed again. The midway is packed up and the caravan of rides and games and trucks filled with this year’s exotic food options shifts into gear and heads out for the next big festival. The round-the-clock celebrations go quiet, and Calgarians slide back into their regular routines, thinking about how they’ll spend the rest of the summer 

The animals are returned to their pastures, and many of the cowboys and ranch hands who worked Stampede move on to other rodeos or head back to their home bases of the farms and ranches surrounding the city. Others see the end of 10-day Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth as an opportunity to look for their next big challenge in life.

Not many of them think about going to work at a university.

But right now, UCalgary has an opening for a range rider.

It may seem peculiar at first that a university would need someone to work on a ranch. But when the university’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine received the incredible donation of the 19,000-acre W.A. Ranches along with a thousand head of cattle last year, it became clear that some of the people required to support it might not necessarily come from the more traditional roles of employees at post-secondary institutions.

“This really is a first for us in Talent Acquisition,” says James Edwards, director of talent management in Human Resources. “Recruiting at UCalgary typically covers just about everything from cleaners to scientists, so this should be no problem for our amazing team of recruiters.

“It is a great example of the unique and truly diverse range of careers on offer at the University of Calgary.”

There is a team of people already working at the ranch; most of them are staff who stayed on after the ranch was gifted to the university, and they became UCalgary employees under the leadership of Matt Williams, general manager of ranch operations. 

The tradition of the range rider goes back to the earliest days of the west, and the role hasn’t changed much over the years. Men and women on horseback oversee herds of animals, sometimes over vast land areas, keeping an eye out for the injured, for predators, and for obstacles on the land that may cause harm to the animals they’re charged with protecting. 

And when it comes to strategic planning for the W.A. Ranches at the University of Calgary, having the right people in place at all levels of the operation is critical.

“We are working on a long-range plan for the ranch that includes programming to meet the needs of Alberta’s cattle industry and support Alberta 4-H and other programs for young people in agriculture,” says Dr. Ed Pajor, PhD, professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and director of W.A. Ranches. “The ranch will continue as a working cow-calf operation, and will be a cornerstone to develop and launch teaching and learning programs, with a primary focus on beef cattle research and driven by integrative concepts such as One Health. 

“All of our staff, from range rider to general manager, will play an important role in educating the next generation of veterinary, human, and environmental health leaders.”

So if you’re someone who enjoys an outdoor job and can manage a herd of cattle — from keeping on eye on their health and well-being to keeping their fences intact — you might want to think about throwing your (cowboy) hat into the ring.