Meet the team: Dr. Calvin Booker
Meet the TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods team members who are empowering and connecting our customers, from producers to consumers, for a more sustainable future.
Dr. Calvin Booker began his career in agriculture working alongside his parents on the family farm in Saskatchewan. He emerged from an unexpected journey through post-secondary education as both a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Veterinary Science. He joined Feedlot Health in 1992, which is now part of TELUS Agriculture’s Animal Health team.
What is your role?
I’m General Manager for Services and Research. I work to make sure that our team has everything they need to assist our global client base. Since we’re all over the world, I start my day by reviewing any messages that came in overnight. I get that done early in the morning, so that our teams can move on to helping our clients as soon as possible. I don’t want anyone to wait for something they shouldn’t have to.
I also head up Research and Development. I focus on how our initiatives can contribute to growth and sustainability for our clients and for TELUS Agriculture. We always have a long list of projects on the go, so I’m pretty frequently checking on progress, giving advice, answering questions, or just acting as a sounding board. I never really run out of things to do, but that’s how I like it.
What drew you to this business?
I grew up on my family’s purebred cattle and grain farm in Saskatchewan, working alongside my parents. I actually wanted to be a grain farmer right out of high school and didn’t really consider continuing school, but my mother suggested I try university for at least a year.
I started at the University of Saskatchewan and studied Agriculture. Within two years I was admitted into the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
When I graduated in 1989, I interned in the Ambulatory Clinic at Cornell University, working mostly with dairy cows. That’s where I realized my passion wasn’t the individual animal, but the entire herd. I learned to think of the group as a large unit that we could understand and improve with data. So I went right back to graduate school to complement my veterinary training with data analysis skills.
All that experience and training shaped my career at Feedlot Health. I was equipped to tackle any challenge and opportunity as they came our way, even as I continued to learn about the business.
What career advice do you have to offer?
I’m fortunate that I love my career. I can’t wait to get started each day because I work with great people and I’m passionate about what we do. It never feels stale, because every day I get to learn something new from our research and data analysis.
But, I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t know my calling was feedlot production. It just sort of happened. So, I know I’ve been lucky, but I guess my career advice would be to find something you are passionate about, get good at it, and do your best to follow that passion wherever it leads you.
What do you want people to know about livestock management?
There are misconceptions around the size of producers' operations – that “big is bad” and “small is good.” In reality, “good” producers come in all shapes and sizes, from really big to really small and everything in between.
Regardless, I try to think more about “better,” meaning we work with producers of any size to help them become more sustainable from an environmental, ethical and economic perspective.
Since we’re talking about food and agriculture, what do you like to eat?
It doesn’t get much better than an aged, well-marbled, grain-fed, ribeye steak seared on a grill. For a close second, I’d go for a hand-ground, medium to high fat hamburger cooked on a grill.