Kelly-Pemberton is seen with the beautiful quilt received in recognition for her dedicated work with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Thompson Goddard Photo

NORTH DUNDAS – After serving as the Regional Director of Zone 11 for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for two three-year terms, Jackie Kelly-Pemberton of North Dundas retired from this position with her final day being November 22, 2023. Zone 11 of the OFA encompasses the Counties of Dundas, Leeds, Grenville, and Frontenac, with each county having its own local federation of agriculture.

After growing up in a rural community near Spencerville, Kelly-Pemberton married Winchester Township farmer Steven Pemberton and worked alongside her husband on the family farm while raising a family and working for Dundas Veterinary Services and Ault Foods in Winchester.  She became a member of the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, becoming more involved after discovering the impact which government policies had on the agricultural community. 

With a deep interest in the environment and its protection, she began researching many topics in this field and investigating how government legislation could affect the agricultural field.  Discovering there was a need for the voice of farmers and the agricultural community to be heard while legislation was developed, Kelly-Pemberton began speaking at open houses and voicing the concerns or needs of this community.

Six years ago, she was elected as the Regional Director for Zone 11 for the OFA which is a grassroots not for profit organization designed to provide information and guidance to the agricultural community and advise the provincial government on the effects of both proposed and actual legislation on this community.

Throughout her tenure she has been an advocate for both the farming community and the environment, noting she has gained a better understanding of the legislative process and worked to overcome the challenges associated with getting the message to decision makers in a beneficial manner.  She noted that issues can be cyclical in nature and that there is a need to educate stakeholders on a regular basis.

Kelly-Pemberton mentioned how she enjoyed being part of a process that helps to create sound policy in the field.  She mentioned how she has seen the OFA working with increased collaboration at the provincial level with other agricultural organizations. “There is one landscape,” she said, “and we need to work together” for its benefit.

“I am proud of the homegrown campaign,” she said, mentioning how this undertaking helps to increase support from the public for issues facing the agricultural community and is a good educational tool.  The provision of information to both the public and the OFA members is a vital part of its mandate with Kelly-Pemberton mentioning mental health and the provision of broadband and cell phone service being two important issues. She congratulated the staff of the OFA who are dedicated researchers working to get the information needed by the agricultural community and the OFA Board.

She explained how the desire to spend more time with her family and pursue other interests were important considerations in deciding to retire from the OFA directorship.  “I am looking more to the local landscape, looking to find time for personal and professional interests,” Pemberton said.  She plans to keep ties with local conservation authorities, working on the Source Water Committee, and will spend one year as a policy councillor for Dundas County. 

Following her retirement, she was thanked by the OFA and the counties she represented for the work she had done and was presented with a beautiful queen size quilt and two pillow shams from the OFA.