Manitoba Ag Hall of Fame Inducts Four Ag Pioneers, Leaders


The Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame is holding its 2016 induction ceremony in Portage this afternoon.

This year’s inductees include a zero-till pioneer, the province’s first soil specialist, a hog producer who led Keystone Ag Producers and other farm groups, and a Hutterite woman who shed light on colony life and developed field record software.

Here are their bios, courtesy the Manitoba Ag Hall of Fame:

Gordon McPhee (1935-), from Dauphin, is known as one of the pioneers of zero-tillage in our province. Gordon has played a major role in preserving one of our most precious resources, the soil, and working with the agricultural industry towards sustainable development. Gordon has served on a variety of provincial and national agricultural boards and committees. Always quick to acknowledge that there had to be a better way, Gordon won the 1997 L.B. Thomson Conservation Award for outstanding work in promoting soil conservation and pioneering zero-tillage. He’s been called a true innovator, an inventor and a question asker, but most importantly, never satisfied with the status quo.

Jack Parker (1914-1989), from Winnipeg, began his working career in 1946 as the province’s first Soils Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture. In 1954, the Minister of Agriculture established the Soils and Crops Branch and commissioned Jack to direct and supervise soils, crops, forage horticulture and weed control services being delivered to Manitoba. Jack took it upon himself to organize “Save the Soils” clubs and engaged farmers in a variety of demonstrations ultimately resulting in today’s provincial conservation district programs. Jack served during the Second World War and after the war ended he toured throughout Germany and the Netherlands where he reported on the state of farmland in the aftermath.

After being raised on the family farm, Weldon Newton (1947-), from Neepawa, attended the University of Manitoba and obtained his degree in Agriculture majoring in soil science. Weldon and his brother Murray took over the farm, a farrow to finish hog operation in 1984 when their parents retired. Weldon along with his brother Murray and sister-in-law Donna were named the 2002 Red River Exhibition Farm Family of Year. Weldon served for 20 years on Manitoba Hog Producers Marketing Board and 16 years as a Keystone Agriculture Producers board member (including four years as vice-president and two years as president). In many situations, Weldon’s leadership served many commodities well but most notably, during the BSE crisis.

Selma Maendel (1961-2014), from Portage la Prairie, worked with a number of medical industry professionals to further understand the genetic basis for many of the disorders seen in Hutterite children and adults. In addition, Selma’s astute computer and organizational skills proved to be extremely beneficial; first, in the development of her Farm History Manager software program for recording and maintaining crop records and, secondly, during a schizophrenia research project conducted by the University of Pittsburgh. The results, of which, are co-authored by Selma and appear in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Selma’s inside look into the Hutterite community and its contribution to agriculture in Manitoba has been published and deemed one of the greatest successes by the Farmers’ Independent Weekly newspaper.

The Manitoba Ag Hall of Fame was established in 1976. Its gallery is located in the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Related: Manitoba Ag Hall of Fame Announces 2015 Inductees

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