The Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame announced its final three inductees for 2017 at CropSphere in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
Biotech champion Wilf Keller, seedgrower Donna Edwards and soil scientist Bob McKercher join grain industry champion Art Mainil (deceased), beef industry advocate Tim Oleksyn and farm innovator George Cooper (deceased), whose inductions were announced during Agribition in November.
The induction ceremony for all six will take place on Saturday, April 22 at Saskatoon’s Western Development Museum.
2017 inductee bios (courtesy Sask Ag Hall of Fame):
Donna Edwards, a select seed grower from Nokomis was elected to the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Seed Growers’ Association in 1995 and became the association’s president in 2001, the first woman in Canada to serve the pedigreed seed industry in this capacity. In 2008, Donna was elected to represent Saskatchewan on the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association board of directors. At the local level, Donna’s passion for preserving the rural lifestyle and attracting and retaining youth in agriculture has been the driving force behind the Nokomis Early Learning Centre which provides professional childcare to the area.
Robert McKercher pioneered work with soils, fertilizers and crop protection products in a distinguished career with the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture. His work as a soil scientist helped form the basis for fertilizer recommendations in the province and throughout the Prairie region. Recognized as an innovative teacher of agriculture students, Bob was also a gifted administrator. From 1984 to 1992, he played a major role in the building plans for the new College of Agriculture building.
Wilfred Keller has been an effective and tireless champion of agricultural biotechnology, both as a researcher and advocate. Wilf’s work was a prerequisite to the development of the first herbicide tolerant canola variety in North America. Throughout a career with various research organizations, he has overseen a plethora of both large and small scale projects in genomics and plants. His academic prowess has earned him many awards and he has given countless presentations to advance the understanding and acceptance of biotechnology.
Art Mainil, a farmer from the Lampman area, was one of the founders of The Palliser Wheat Growers Association and was instrumental in leading the fight for marketing freedom. He was the founding President and driving force for Weyburn Inland Terminal, the first farmer-owned grain terminal in Canada. As such, he promoted protein grading for wheat, grain cleaning on the Prairies and the loading of 100-car unit trains. He was also a champion and user of producer cars. Art Mainil passed away in November, 2011.
Tim Oleksyn, a rancher and farmer from the Prince Albert area, has been a supporter of the beef industry and more specifically beef research for decades. He has been a board member and chair of the Western Beef Development Centre. He has also served with the Beef Cattle Research Council, Saskatchewan Agriculture Development Fund, Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute and the new Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE). Tim is a member of the fundraising committee to secure the remaining funds needed to make the LFCE a reality.
George Cooper of West Bend was a lifelong proud farmer who dedicated a great deal of his time to improving agriculture locally, provincially and internationally. He was always an innovator quick to adopt new farming technology that might help his farm operation. George served on the boards of the Canadian Shorthorn Association, Saskatchewan Livestock Association and Canadian Western Agribition and he was President of the Regina Bull Sale. He spent two years teaching farming practices to producers in the Sudan. George Cooper passed away in August 2016.