Industry Profile -Nadine Gill talks success, mental health, and having it all

After graduating with a B.A. from Trent University, Nadine Gill took some time to work on a sow operation in Ohio with her father. It was there she realized her connection with pigs, and her rekindled interest in agriculture. She now works for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture as a Member Service Support Representative but can also be found working on-call at a swine operation or in the fields exploring her new cropping skills.

If you’re interested in connecting with Nadine, contact her via Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nadinekaur/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/knk_gill or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nadine.gill77

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.

13288375_10100384787740272_1169091909_oMy name is Nadine Gill and I live in the lovely Niagara Region with my partner on his family’s grain and oilseed operation with our two dogs. I’ve spent a fair amount of my working life in the customer service industry and have experience in a variety of agriculture businesses: swine, crops, dairy, and greenhouse flowers to name a few.

Tell us about your two current roles.

I started working for the OFA in July 2014, as the Member Service Support Representative for South-Western Ontario. I love the variety my position allows, as I not only oversee many of the major provincial farm and trade shows, but assist my co-workers in OFA’s Guelph head office and their respective counties. My position allows for much variety in my day-to-day tasks and I am able to travel all over SW Ontario, which I love! I also work with the Stein family at their batch farrowing operation in Haldimand County as on-call help. This typically means I am in the barn once a month, or less, doing whatever task needs to be completed. I feel the most comfortable in farrowing, but have experience in breeding and nursery due to my previous employment in the swine industry. Recently, I became more involved in my partner’s family farm. Although crops have not quite caught my interest to the extent that livestock agriculture has, I have come to appreciate and enjoy this side of agriculture. In fact, I worked my first 500 acres over Victoria Day weekend! I am hoping to learn more about the business and slowly make my way into being a more active participant on the family farm.

How do you define personal success? What steps do you take to get there?

I define my personal success based on continued growth, the ability to learn, and feeling as though I have “given back” to the community. I do this by taking the time to read an hour or so every week on a topic I know little about. I reflect on what I have learnt on a monthly basis. I also volunteer in my local community and try to spread awareness of Ontario agriculture. I am lucky that my career aids me in shaping and achieving my personal success, specifically in that the work I do gives back to the agricultural community.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face? And what did you learn from that experience?

I’ve recently been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder, which is a constant challenge as someone who is often in social settings with my OFA role. Acknowledging when I am reaching my threshold and being able to say so is something I am starting to feel more comfortable doing. I no longer feel guilty telling someone that I can only do so much, whether that is in my personal or professional life. Realizing that I cannot “do it all and then some” is very hard to admit, especially when our industry, at times, seems to pride itself on doing it all; also, being very straightforward about my threshold for certain things and realizing what works for me. Self-reflection has helped immensely in this regard. I am still learning to cope with my anxiety in everyday settings, but in the process I am learning more about myself.

Who would say is your biggest influencer/mentor? What have you learned from them?

I wouldn’t say I’ve had one particular person who has influence me more than others. If anything, I’ve found different mentorship at different points my life. I try to surround myself with people who bring me up and aid me in progressing as a person. Longest running, however, would be my parents. My Dad’s shown me how hard work, dedication, and self-teaching can bring one to realize their dreams, even if everyone is telling you that you can’t. He’s a very ambitious and resilient person who has really illustrated to me how important general business sense is in agriculture. My Mom is also very resilient. She is one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve encountered. She’s a true nurturer and always seems to find great teaching moments in the every day. Many of my morals are a direct representation of her guidance.

What’s the most burning question for you right now in your career?

Balance seems to be a key issue for me. I have realized that I have a tendency to spread myself too thin, which makes me a bit apprehensive for any major life events/changes that may occur in the future. An AWN seminar at FarmSmart in late January this year (featuring Deb Campbell and Sandi Brock) really put it all into perspective and resonated with me. Realizing that I can do everything I want to, even though it means making some sacrifices, has helped. It would be interesting to see what other women in agriculture have done in adapting to be that “2000s working mom” they described. Also, I’m interested in the networking aspect of AWN. I’d love to see more informal social events!

What do you think is the most important topic in agriculture right now?

Miscommunication between agriculture and the world. It is not just the everyday person who may think their milk comes from the grocery shelf, but the people who are making legislative decisions for this industry need to be addressed. Any outreach to share our agricultural knowledge is valuable and will aid the industry in its longevity and sustainability in this province.

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