Industry profile: Cathy Dibble
Cathy Dibble lives near Drumbo, Ontario on a broiler chicken farm. She is an active volunteer in her community and works part time for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). 16 years ago she fell into her career by accident, but has been working with and for Ontario farmers ever since.
If you’re interested in connecting with Cathy after reading her profile, contact her via Twitter (@TVRSCIA ) LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathy-dibble-18a38521) or through email (email@example.com)
To start off, please tell the Ag Women’s Network more about yourself.
I wasn't raised on a farm, but had many farming family members. Then I married a beef farmer, and loved the life. I loved helping in the barn and the fields when I could. I took on the job as secretary/treasurer for our local soil and crop association 16 years ago, just for something to do while still helping on the farm with two small kids. Shortly after that, the opportunity came up for me to assume the regional communication coordinator position for the Thames Valley Soil & Crop region and things just escalated from there. I was invited to become the local OSCIA funding program representative and was nominated as the OSCIA Regional Communication Coordinator Lead by my peers in 2009. Whichever hat I happen to be wearing, I love being able to help others. In 2004, we moved to a broiler chicken operation, downsized the cropping end of things and now have more free time to dedicate to other areas of our life.
What do you do in your current position with the OSCIA?
As Thames Valley Regional Communication Coordinator (RCC), I produce six newsletters for our region’s members each year, manage our regional website, coordinate field projects and grant applications, assist in planning events, and encourage inter-county plot projects, networking and communications. As Lead RCC, I provide IT and HR support for the rest of my team (10 of us in all), represent the group to our provincial board of directors, organize semi-annual training sessions, and other fun stuff such as organizing OSCIA member benefits like our new discount on soil sample analyses. I have had opportunities to work with Ontario Agri-Food Education and Farm and Food Care (Ontario) on different projects. I am also OSCIA’s only dedicated Project Inspector for the funding programs we deliver, so I have the great opportunity to travel all over most of southwestern Ontario. I visit producers from all commodities to see the great projects they are completing through Growing Forward 2, the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program and others. I also tweet on behalf of all my hats on any given day.
Professionally we are often seeking success. How do you define personal success?
I think personal success is being satisfied with what you do. It’s about enjoying your work and even the challenges it presents. In my mind knowing you did your best at the end of the day, even if the results were not exactly what you wanted, is one of the most important aspects of success.
What’s the biggest professional challenge you’ve had to face?
Not getting a position I really wanted. It made me face my weaknesses and realize I need to try harder to overcome these stumbling blocks. It’s something I keep working at, but still find very challenging. Maybe I can't do everything, but I'm not going to stop trying.
Who is your biggest influencer/mentor?
A former colleague who always encouraged me to keep going, push my limits, never give up, try new things and supported me in every way. I gained more confidence and knowledge, and became a stronger person.
You spend a lot of time volunteering. How do you manage all of this with your work and farm commitments?
I assist with planning the Oxford Federation of Agriculture’s Excellence Awards, sit on the SouthWest Ag Conference steering committee, volunteer with our saddle club and other local initiatives. Since I work from home, it is probably easier to manage my volunteering around work, farming and family schedules. With our operation, we can be fairly flexible on chore times and can usually count on our kids to help with chores if needed, even though they both work full time off the farm as well. I think the most important part of volunteering is to not extend yourself beyond your time and commitment capabilities. Even just playing a small but dedicated part of an organization is helpful, so don't sign up to do it all!
How do you define agriculture?
The science of producing (primarily) food for others - humans and animals alike – by using science and technology to do so as efficiently and economically as possible.
What do you think is the most important topic in agriculture right now?
Agvocacy. It is so important for the general public to know what we do and why we do it, whether it is crop or livestock related. We care about the food we produce. The products we use are safe and effective and allow us to do the best job we can for everyone's benefit. Decisions need to be based on science, and since public persuasion appears to determine so many decisions, it is important the public knows the real facts about agriculture. It is a huge task, and I think we all need to keep working at it.
Why are you interested in being a part of the Ag Women’s Network (AWN)?
I enjoy helping others. If some of my experiences can help other women in some small way, that's great! And, I'm always keen to learn from others too. We all face challenges and sharing experiences and insights is a benefit to everyone.
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