Henry Vissers, Executive Director
Henry Vissers grew up on a farm in the small community of Newcombville, he now resides in Valley. Henry studied Business at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and later obtained a Certificate in Management from Saint Mary’s University. Henry has been involved in agriculture all his life; from growing up on the farm, managing the local co-op, being involved in organizations like 4H, local county federation and the exhibition. He loves the Federation and has been working with the NSFA for 12 years now, this is his dream job! Some of the projects Henry is involved with include: governance, policy and advocacy efforts. When asked what his favourite part of his job is, he replied, “The people are great, both staff and the farmers we work with. I love politics and the lobbying part of it too.”
Favourite movie: Deer Hunter – not an easy movie to watch but it defined the Vietnam era for Henry.
Favourite book: Henry isn’t as much of reader as he used to be but he enjoys British murder mysteries and Sci Fi.
First purchase if Henry wins the lottery: It depends on how much the jackpot was but he expects he would share it with family, pay some bills and do some house renos! However, he guesses you’d have to buy a ticket, which he doesn’t do very often!
Carolyn Van Den Heuvel, Director of Outreach and Member Relations
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!
In her current role, Carolyn feels lucky enough to be involved in a number of projects at the NSFA. She has the opportunity to work with a great team on labour, farm safety, environmental, public trust, along with advocacy and member relations. While there isn’t a specific project she can mention but that is part of what she likes most about her role at NSFA – the diversity.
Carolyn like 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, Administrative Services Coordinator
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
Maxine MacLean, Policy Analyst
Maxine lives in Island East River which is part of the East River Valley in Pictou County. Maxine lives with her daughter and grey tuxedo cat, Sophie.
Having grown up in rural Nova Scotia and spending her summers in the blueberry fields, Maxine decided NSAC was the best option for her for Post-Secondary. Maxine always had an interest in the Environment, so a B.Sc. (Agr) in Environmental Sciences was a natural fit. While at the AC, Maxine discovered policy courses which built on her interests in politics and governments and she found an interest in protecting land from urban development. She set those interests and passions on the shelf for a couple of years after graduation, but was more than delighted to revisit them in 2014 when she joined the Federation as the Communications and Research Coordinator.
Maxine loves to learn, thrives on knowing she is helping others and is an advocate for any cause she believes in. These are likely the reasons she is drawn to her work in Policy. Protecting Agricultural Land, crafting responses to government consultations, working with government to create resources (in plain language!) for farmers and working with members to identify solutions to issues are all areas that Maxine’s role touches. Maxine’s role also encompasses Government Relations – arranging for meetings with caucuses, Ministers and critics, as well as coming up with ways to convey industry issues to decision makers.
Outside of work, Maxine is a member of the YMCA of Pictou County, she is a Certified Hike Leader with the Outdoor Council of Canada and can often be found on a yoga mat. Maxine enjoys a good British period drama on television and classic literature – Anna Karenina and anything by Jane Austin gets re-read! She also enjoys making music playlists and attending concerts.
First purchase if Maxine wins the lottery: she wouldn’t tell anybody but she would make anonymous donations to multiple charities.
Katherine Tuttle, Communications Coordinator
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 an effort to give back and contribute to the community that helped shape her into who she is today, Katherine sits on the boards for the Creamery Square Association and the Creamery Square Arts Society in Tatamagouche. 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! Some of the projects she has been working on lately include the NSFA re-brand, the website redevelopment project, campaign development, and communication planning.
Favourite movie: Shawshank Redemption
First purchase if Katherine wins the lottery: she would build an inground pool!
Tracey Otterson, Financial Services 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!
Lori Brookhouse, Farm Safety Advisor
After graduating from NSAC in Biology and Technology, Lori took the lead on safety in all of her employment opportunities whether it was at the Vet Lab, U of C Animal Facility, vet clinic or her husband’s tree business. When a landscape company asked that she evaluate their program, one referral led to the next in creating Vital Insight, a Safety & HR Consulting firm across Canada. Lori has been with the NSFA team since 2019 and has referred to the Farm Safety NS position as “someone the Ag industry needed” to help farms with their safety programs.
Lori works on multiple projects including developing tools and resources farms need in order to maintain safe farming practices. Lori is passionate about meeting farmers and exploring different farming operations!
In her free time, Lori loves to read anything and everything and rides a Harley 2014 Soft Tail Slim!
Favourite book: Lori loves to read everything, no favourite!
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
Nicole Shanahan, Member Services Coordinator
Nicole Shanahan is originally from Cole Harbour and now lives in Truro. She has a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an M.Sc. Environmental Sciences from the University of Freiburg in Germany. In Germany, Nicole studied the effects of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on tree root growth as part of an international tree diversity experiment. She has been with the NSFA team since September of 2020.
Nicole has always been passionate about sustainable living and knowing where food comes from. Travelling and learning about new cultures, food is always at the centre, which is why she always tries to connect with resident farmers, hunters and/or fisherman to find locally supplied products. Nicole has worked on grain, olive, hops, and other farms locally and abroad and loves being a part of these communities.
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!