Neil grew up in rural Southwestern Ontario surrounded by small towns and farms, yet a mere 2 hour drive from the heart of Toronto. Neil graduated with a BA Geography from the University of Guelph completing a minor in GIS and Environmental Analysis in the process. Throughout his undergrad he was preoccupied with issues around youth access to recreation and athletics primarily in a rural context. Entering the Rural Planning and Development Program at the University of Guelph he found himself struggling to define the rural context he intended to investigate. This prompted a new phase in his research, focused on various definitions of rural and the implications on policy and programs.