Carolyn Van Den Heuvel, Executive Director

Carolyn Van Den Heuvel grew up on a beef farm in Antigonish, and currently resides in Truro Heights. She graduated from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Following graduation, she worked on a number of dairy farms before starting her career with the Federation in 2012. Carolyn officially started with the NSFA in 2013; however, she began working in the office in 2012 on a joint project with NSFA and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.

Good, bad or indifferent, Carolyn has never left the agriculture industry. Growing up on a farm, she always had a passion for agriculture. While studying at the NSAC she knew one thing – she wanted to work in the agriculture industry, at the producer level, in a capacity that helped the industry progress. Carolyn feels that her work at the NSFA does just that and fulfills her desire to support industry in an ever-changing environment. Her favourite part of the job is getting to know our members and gaining a better understanding and appreciation for the agriculture industry as a whole!

Carolyn likes to spend her time outdoors. Although she is not directly involved in farming anymore, that is where her heart lies. She’s quite sure she could be convinced to join anyone during the busy months for a bit of “tractor therapy”.

First purchase if Carolyn wins the lottery: Carolyn would want to give back to the community – a few investments close to her heart would be mental health programming in rural communities, investing in programming to support those that are food insecure and providing extra-curricular programming to underprivileged youth. She might throw a hot tub in there too!

Shelly MacKenzie, Executive Assistant

Shelly MacKenzie lives in Bible Hill with her husband and is a lifelong resident of the Truro area. She has two kids, two beagles and one cat. Shelly attended Success Business College in Truro and graduated as a Legal Secretary. Shelly has been with the NSFA for 11 years after spending 25 years with Pork Nova Scotia. At the Federation, Shelly is responsible for Annual Meeting planning and prep, and overall meeting booking and organization for NSFA. Her favourite thing about her job is the friendly work environment at the Federation!

Shelly’s favourite activity is travelling, though COVID-19 has been putting a damper on that recently!

Favourite movie: The Notebook

Tracey Otterson, Finance Coordinator

Tracey Otterson resides in Truro with her husband, and has a grown son and daughter. Tracey found her love for numbers while getting a certificate for another course and has now been with the NSFA team since November of 2019. Tracey is well-suited to this field of work as she is an organizer at heart and likes working with numbers! Her favourite part of her job is reconciliations.

Favourite book: Anne of Green Gables

First purchase if Tracey wins the lottery: she would open an all year-round Christmas shop!

Brian Udoh, Policy Analyst

Brian Udoh is an agriculture enthusiast; he has dedicated over 15 years of his career to working solely in the agricultural industry. He currently lives in the valley of East Mountain, Nova Scotia, and has received his education from various parts of the world. He is a Certified Expert in Agricultural Finance from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, has a minMBA in Food and Agribusiness Management from Business School Netherlands, a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Wales, an Advance Post-Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness Management from James Lind’s Institute, and a Bachelors of Agricultural Technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure.

He also holds professional certificates from Wageningen University and Research on Sustainable Food Security,  Technische Universität München (TUM) on the Economics of Agro-Food Value Chains and Public Policy Economics from Oxford University. With more than 15 years of experience as an agricultural policy advisor, manager, consultant, and project coordinator in the areas of agriculture, circular economy, investment, and trade, he can develop strategies to improve efficiency in the management of agricultural production and industry development based on sustainable solutions.

Agriculture and the environment have always been of natural interest to him. Hence, after his exposure to the uniqueness of agriculture and its contribution to environmental, social, and economic developments during his bachelor’s degree, he decided to dedicate himself to the development of the industry. He is looking forward to supporting the talented and warm team at NSFA and other agencies, departments of agriculture in the public sector, civil society organizations, trade and commodity associations, and knowledge institutions to advance the goals and aspirations of our members and the industry at large.

Favourite Book: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann and Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell. Both books aimed to challenge popular concepts of economics and business management, and they have both reformed my perceptions and conclusions about economics and business. 

Favourite Movie: Jerry Maguire, a movie centred on the value of customer-centric approaches to value creation in business

If Brian won the lottery, the first thing he would do is: establish an academy and investment platform for young adults to develop and grow sustainable businesses in the agri-food industry that challenge current constraints and limitations and have a significant social multiplier effect. “I know this all sounds serious, but I hope to accomplish this serious challenge with a lot of fun thrown in the mix”.

Katherine Tuttle, Communications Manager (On Parental Leave)

Katherine grew up in the small village of Tatamagouche, on the beautiful North Shore. Rural Nova Scotia has always held a special place in her heart, and she now resides in Wentworth with her husband, Tim. In her spare time she helps out on her in-laws beef farm, and spends a lot of time hanging out in the calf pens.

Katherine graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Public Relations and joined the NSFA team in March of 2018. It wasn’t until she met Tim that she got involved in agriculture. One of her work placements through her degree was with Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture, and it was there that Katherine’s passion for agriculture grew its roots. After finishing school, she was determined to land a career in the agriculture industry because she wanted to play a part in supporting such a vital sector.

Katherine wears many hats at the NSFA office, she is responsible for social media management, media relations, newsletters, websites, just to name a few!


Favourite movie: Shawshank Redemption

First purchase if Katherine wins the lottery: she would build an inground pool!

Leah Visser, Communications Manager

Leah grew up in a farming family in the beautiful Annapolis Valley and recently moved to Truro to join the NSFA team.

Leah began her education with a Tourism Management Diploma while working in Nova Scotia’s emerging wine region and fulfilling her passion for travel. Wherever her travels led, finding a chance to get involved in agriculture was where she felt at home. This led her to an internship on a dairy farm and agri-tourism business in the Netherlands where she further realized her desire to contribute her skills to the industry. Leah graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University with a BBA in Marketing and has since continued her studies in Graphic Design and Visual Communication.

There have only been a few moments in her life when she hasn’t been surrounded by or working in agriculture, and those moments were enough to cement that a career in agriculture was in her future. Leah is looking forward to gaining a new perspective on the industry as a whole, while supporting the most noble profession, that of a farmer.

Favorite movie: Hacksaw Ridge

First purchase if Leah wins the lottery: She’d travel the world and carry out random acts of kindness for those in need.

Janette McDonald, Public Trust Coordinator

Janette MacDonald lives on a dairy farm in Milford with her husband and three daughters. She graduated from NSAC in 2008 with a degree in Agricultural Business, and has been working in agriculture her entire career. Growing up on a dairy farm, Janette was an active 4-H member and leader. Janette has been with the Federation in her current position since November of 2019, and had previously worked as an EFP Coordinator in 2012. You will now find her working on developing a public trust strategy for food and farming in Nova Scotia and organizing events like Open Farm Day and Meet Your Farmer. Janette enjoys learning about and sharing the stories of farmers from across Nova Scotia and getting out to talk with farmers.

Janette has four brothers who all farm, and family events always involve talking cows!

Favourite books: The Alice Network, Anne of Green Gables, Big Magic

Favourite movies: The DaVinci Code series, anything Disney with the kids, and watching It’s a Beautiful Life on Christmas Eve.

First purchase if Janette wins the lottery: she would build a horse barn!

Richard Barrett, Member Services Coordinator

Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Richard graduated from Memorial University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Commerce. After hopping over a province, Richard completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with a major in Plant Sciences from Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture, graduating in 2020.

Richard’s desire for sustainability and passion for gardening was a key component to him working in the agriculture industry. He’s looking forward to starting seeds and expanding his garden this spring.


Favourite book: Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Soil Food Web

First purchase if Richard won the lottery: A piece of land and equipment for a small homestead

Carolyn Marshall, Environment & Climate Change Manager

Carolyn grew up in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and now lives in Bible Hill with her husband and two boys. Before she joined the NSFA team, she worked as a researcher at Dalhousie University for over a decade. Carolyn studied ecology and botany at Acadia University and the University of British Columbia, and then Dalhousie University where she moved into agriculture.


Carolyn has always been engaged in environmental issues, even since she was a kid. As she got older and learned more about climate change, she realized how important agriculture is to that and other big societal issues like economy and health. Carolyn saw the huge potential that there is in agriculture to make a big impact on climate change. She sees the soil as a big connector to all of these issues and agriculture – she is very passionate about all things soil!


“I’m looking forward to addressing big problems with practical solutions. Adapting to and mitigating climate change doesn’t necessarily require complicated technical solutions.”


Favourite book:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


First thing she would do if she won the lottery:

Carolyn would travel to South America!

Trevor Davison, Environmental Farm Plan Coordinator

Trevor Davison grew up on a mixed commercial farm in Falmouth, N.S. where his family continues to have beef cattle, orchard and field crops. After graduating from the NSAC with a B.Sc. (Agr.) Pest Management, Trevor worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Kentville and an agricultural research company before joining the Nova Scotia Environmental Farm Plan Program in 2004. He enjoys being able to talk to farmers across the province and see how they do things on their operations. Though the EFP Program is an educational one, Trevor often feels he learns as much from the farmers as they from him, which he feels makes him a better coordinator. Having grown up on a farm, it becomes a part of who you are, and Trevor wanted to find a way to contribute to the industry.

The bulk of Trevor’s time is dedicated to farm visits and reports, but the EFP Program is also working on a Species at Risk project (through Canadian Wildlife Service) and working with the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association on a habitat and biodiversity project.

Trevor currently resides in Truro, N.S., with his wife Janet and two children Nate & Julia.

Favourite book: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

First purchase if Trevor wins the lottery: A truck or a piece of property in Cape Breton!

Cory Roberts, Environmental Farm Plan Coordinator

Cory Roberts resides in Colchester County with his four children and his dogs Murphy and Miles. In university, Cory studied Environmental Science and now works as a coordinator for the Environmental Farm Plan program. He was drawn to agriculture by his desire to support farmers in growing nutritious food while minimizing environmental impacts. Cory has worked with the Federation for six years and enjoys interacting with farmers, viewing farms as complex biophysical systems, and using data to help improve systems and find efficiencies. Cory is currently working on updating and implementing changes within the EFP Program!

Favourite movie: Rear Window

Katherine Rutherford, Living Labs Coordinator

Katherine grew up in the rural community of Old Barns, during her younger years she was involved with the 4-H Program and didn’t have plans to work in agriculture. Fast forward to highschool graduation, Katherine enrolled in the Nova Scotia Agricultural College to get an undergraduate science degree. During her time at the AC, Katherine started working in research, she found that she really enjoyed it, and has been working in research and/or going to school ever since! Under her belt, Katherine has a BSc (Agr) in Animal Science, MSc in Agriculture and is currently completing a PhD in Biology! Katherine now resides just outside Antigonish, in Brierly Brook with her partner Jason and their two young children. Jason operates Lindenright Holsteins with his parents.


As our Living Labs Coordinator, Katherine is excited to do on-farm research. “It’s always exciting to connect with producers.”


Favourite Book: Katherine loves to read! Anything my Margaret Atwood is a yes for her.


If she wins the lottery? She will be calling her financial advisor! And taking a holiday!

Jessica Gilice, Knowledge & Tech Transfer Coordinator

Jessica attended Saint Mary’s University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies in 2021. Growing up on a hobby farm, Jessica was an active participant in 4-H in her younger years and has always been interested in agriculture. This is her first career in the agriculture field, and she’s looking forward to working on the Living Labs project! Jessica resides in Kennetcook with her partner Johnathan and their black lab, Rosco.

Favourite book: Anything by Stephen King

If Jessica won the lottery, the first thing she would do is: Go on an Alaskan cruise!

Cassidy VandeWiel, Living Labs Research Assistant

Born and raised in Antigonish, Cassidy will be heading into her third year of Animal Science with a minor in Equine Science at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture. In 2017, her family moved to a new property that is home to blueberries, hay fields and a woodlot. Cassidy loves the outdoors, and you can often find her enjoying some quality outdoor time with their three horses Mel, Raggs and Bailey. Cassidy has also been involved with 4-H for many years.

Favourite move: The Fast and Furious Franchise

If she won, the lottery: Cassidy would buy a tiny house!

Samantha Bennett, Living Labs Research Assistant

Originally from Quebec, Samantha moved to Nova Scotia in 2019 to attend Saint Mary’s University. During her time at SMU, Samantha completed her B.A. (Hons) in Environmental Science. This fall she will begin her MSc at Dalhousie University which will focus on climate change, soil health, and agricultural land. Samantha loves everything to do with the great outdoors and hopes to one day work in environmental policy or research that would focus on food security and/or the development of greater sustainable agricultural practices.

Favourite Book: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Favourite Movie: Moulin Rouge

Caitlyn Creelman, Farm & Workforce Development Manager

Caitlyn Creelman grew up in Bass River, NS, and attended Dalhousie University in Halifax for a B.A., double majoring in Economics and International Development Studies. After her studies, Caitlyn stayed in the city for a couple of years before spending a 14 month stint in Labrador and then 5 years in northern Saskatchewan. She has an 12 year old rescue beagle that has been by her side through all the moves.

Caitlyn has always had a community focus in both her work and volunteer life. She has been an active member of Search and Rescue for many years, a board member for the local housing authority and a participant in MMIWG and Every Child Matters fundraising/events. She is passionate about people and wants to see everyone be given the opportunity to lead a fulfilling and safe life.


Favourite Book – The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

Favourite Movie – Dirty Dancing

First purchase if Caitlyn wins the lottery: the first thing she would do is build a cottage on the Bay large enough to hold all of her family!

Margaret Ells, Training & Awareness Coordinator

Margaret grew up in the beautiful Annapolis Valley on a mixed farm, after highschool she attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College where she received her B. Sc. Agr. with a major in plant protection.

For 30+ years, Margaret lived in Great Village, and was self employed as a caterer while raising her four amazing children. She now resides in Truro with her dog Fundy. For the past six and a half years, she was the Manager of the Truro Farmers’ Market.

Agriculture was always the main topic of conversation around her dinner table, and still is today. She is excited to be able to work with the team at NSFA, to support our producers and all those in our sector.

Favourite book: So many books….so little reading time! My favourites change constantly

Favourite movie: I like old classic movies…think Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in African Queen.

First purchase if Margaret wins the lottery: I would love to somehow support local producers and artisans. And pay off my kids debts to set them up in careers they love!

Kayleigh Brewer, FWD Summer Intern

After growing up in Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick, Kayleigh made the move to Bible Hill to attend Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture. Kayleigh has just finished her second year of her BSc. with a major in animal science and a certificate in animal welfare. She is an active member of her 4H club back in New Brunswick and Co-President of the Dalhousie Agricultural Judging Team. Prior to working for the NSFA, Kayleigh was employed on a dairy farm where she spent most of her time for the past five years. She has a strong passion for being able to share her love for all things agriculture especially the dairy industry with others and she looks forward most to being able to make and build connections with others in agriculture throughout her time as the FWD Summer Intern.

Favourite book: Anything by Colleen Hoover!

If she won the lottery: she would buy a truck…or a small dairy farm…or maybe both!