NASDA Member Spotlight: Celia Gould, Idaho Department of Agriculture

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This week's NASDA Member Spotlight is Idaho Director of Agriculture Celia Gould. Director Gould was appointed to her position in January 2007 and is currently serving as the Western Region Representative on NASDA' Board of Directors.

How do you start your day?

This question made me think about the movie Tombstone when Doc Holliday says, “There's no such thing as a normal life, Wyatt. It’s just life.” Likewise, there’s no such thing as a “normal” morning for me.  I enjoy the variety of challenges and opportunities I get each day with this job. There’s always something different, but my favorite mornings are during weekends spent at the ranch with my grandkids. My granddaughter has the most extraordinary internal clock and wakes me up by saying, “Grandma, it’s light outside.” I can’t help but think she must get that from my grandpa who made sure all of his grandkids at the ranch were awake by knocking on our bedroom windows and reminding us we were burning daylight.

What do you think is missing from the conversation when we don’t have women at the table and in leadership roles?

I am Idaho’s first female ag director. I’ve heard from many young women who seem to have a vested stake in my service because it offers an example for other women in ag. That’s a real honor for me.  I am proud to have an executive team and agency workforce with a balanced number of female employees. When faced with an issue, my favorite approach is the war room. I want all voices—female, male, older, younger, insider and outsider—at the table helping us get to a better, more well-rounded strategy. I would add that whether a woman is making decisions from a board room or a kitchen table, her contributions are equally important in building the best in people and communities.

As the chief agriculture official for Idaho, where do you hope to see your department in five years?

Every year I’ve been in this job, 10 years on now, I always have an eye to leaving this office in the best shape possible. I want this agency to continue a strong commitment to customer service. It’s something our ag industry expects and deserves. Our agency wears two hats: promote and regulate Idaho agriculture. I would want this agency to keep fulfilling that mission in a way that is balanced, transparent and accountable.  

What is the most unique career in agriculture that you have heard of?

This question gave me pause, and I went so far as to ask ISDA staff too. Pretty consistently, they thought our invasive species inspectors had some of the most interesting jobs. Our invasives investigators do everything from check for tiny mussels attached to boats traveling into Idaho (we’re specifically trying to keep out quagga and zebra mussels) to checking for aquatic invasive species at a fish farm that also raises alligators. It’s varied and important work.

In seven words or less, what is some advice you would offer your fellow agriculturalists?

Never compromise your integrity.