New Dundee’s Patricia Mighton inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame

  • Feature   Thu, Jun 23rd, 2022   Veronica Reiner
New Dundee’s Patricia Mighton was one of five nominees to be inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place in Elora.

New Dundee’s Patricia Mighton was one of five nominees to be inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place in Elora.

By Veronica Reiner
Patricia Mighton of New Dundee was inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Elora on June 12.
“It was an enormous honour and a total surprise,” said Mighton, on how it felt to be inducted. “I have said right from the get-go - I was really happy to accept the recognition, but that I accepted the recognition on behalf of all the teams I have been a part of and all of the goals we have achieved together.”
To qualify for this prestigious recognition, inductees must have shown visionary leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. Mighton was nominated by the Rural Ontario Institute, a not-for-profit that delivers programs that develop strong leaders who are critical voices around opportunities and key issues facing rural and northern Ontario.
Mighton has been a dynamic force in the province’s agriculture through her advocacy, leadership in agricultural education, fundraising work, and her ability to accomplish goals professionally and effectively.
She graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) in 1964. “I had such a wonderful time at college and met the most amazing people,” said Mighton, of the experience. “In addition to that, I learned so much about agriculture and became quite passionate about it.”
She studied dairy science, the study of milk and milk products, and what to do with fresh milk. While at the OAC, she took on a leadership role as class secretary, which she maintained for almost six decades.
“I was doing more the link between the farmer and the end consumer,” explained Mighton. “How to make cheese, and yogurt, and ice cream - the chemistry, the microbiology, that sort of stuff.”
One of her many accomplishments was that she and her OAC ’64 classmates successfully conducted a $200,000 fundraising project to mark their 50th anniversary by creating a new Ontario graduate scholarship. To date, 12 OAC graduate students have received support to allow them to continue their studies and research in agriculture.
Mighton went on to receive a Bachelor of Education in 1984 from the University of Western Ontario, and then a Master of Science in Rural Development in 1993.
From 1978 to 1979, she served as the first female president of the OAC Alumni Association, then became chair of the OAC Alumni Foundation (OACAF) in 1994 to 1997. Mighton served on the University of Guelph Senate from 1998 to 2001 and was a member of the International and Awards Committees.
As president of the OACAF, Mighton led a major effort to raise ACCESS funds to financially assist OAC students and to promote OAC as a leading-edge educational facility for agriculture. In the mid 1990s, OAC enrolment and the University of Guelph was assessing its viability as a standalone college. Her promotion of the ACCESS program played a big part in giving OAC a recruitment advantage and the ability to increase the awareness of the excellence of its programming and subsequent career opportunities for its graduates. Today, the enrolment decline has been reversed and the OAC is thriving.
In 1984, Mighton joined the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as an education specialist.
“I had been a teacher’s aid at the public school in New Dundee for many years, and got to the point that our kids were approaching later teens, and I thought, ‘If I’m going to stick with this, I should get the teaching degree and be a teacher rather than a teacher’s aide,” explained Mighton, of obtaining the education specialist position.
After going to teacher’s college, she had the opportunity to apply for the job. “I happened to be at the right place at the right time,” said Mighton. “The Agriculture in the Classroom program was in its infancy, and it just barely started, and the person responsible was taking a leave of absence to go to teacher’s college. And they needed somebody to shepherd the program along in the early days, rather than let it drift and die.”
In addition to coordinating the program in its early days, her ability to further the development of educational resources to support school curricula was invaluable to creating what is now known as AgScape Ontario.
Mighton’s life work in agricultural education and organizational development continued as the Rural Organization Specialist for the Region of Waterloo. In that role, she helped to mentor 4-H as the organization had lost a significant portion of funding and needed to pivot to a donor model to finance its activities.
She ultimately moved on to become Executive Director of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP) where she led this unique, disciplined and thought-provoking leadership opportunity for people working in agriculture and rural Ontario.
“That’s a program for adults, men and women, involved in agriculture, farming and all other aspects of agriculture, to develop some leadership skills and the knowledge and understanding they need of the complete industry,” said Mighton. “It’s very much a networking and understanding the broader industry is really a part of that program, in addition to developing leadership skills and the confidence to speak on behalf of the industry.”
The AALP is now in its 36th year with 480 alumni in many positions of leadership in the agriculture, food and rural sectors.
In addition to Mighton, there were four other nominees to have been selected by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association as worthy candidates, including Paul Kelly, Patrick Lynch, James Rickard and Dr. Patricia Shewen. Their influences range from the bee industry, agronomy and crop consulting, conflict resolution and tribunal leadership, to veterinary medicine and research.
“Our Board of Directors was delighted by the caliber of the nominees and the number of nomination packages received for consideration this year,” said Kelly Daynard, president of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association.
“It’s always a humbling experience to review the nomination packages and make the final selections, and this year was no different. It’s never an easy decision to choose, but we are confident that these five inductees have all left a lasting legacy on Ontario agriculture.”