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Three P.E.I. potato industry leaders receive national recognition

March 12, 2024  By Potatoes in Canada

Three from Prince Edward Island have received recognition on the national agriculture stage. As reported in Fresh Plaza, the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC, formerly Canadian Horticulture Council) held its annual meetings in Ottawa and the awards were presented during the awards banquet.

Brenda Simmons, the former assistant general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board was presented with one of two Lifetime Achievement Awards. Simmons played a significant role within the FVGC, particularly with the Canadian Potato Council (CPC). Her involvement as a director of the CPC for many years and her tenure as vice chair highlight her commitment to the organization. Simmons’ understanding of the agriculture sector positioned her as the go-to person not only for P.E.I. but across the country. Her ability to navigate complex issues and guide stakeholders through challenging times underscores her leadership and expertise.

Mary Kay Sonier, the former seed coordinator for the P.E.I. potato industry was recognized as an Honorary Lifetime Member of FVGC. Sonier’s deep farming knowledge has played a key role in her involvement on numerous national and international committees and working groups over the years. She has been an active member of the CPC for many years including a key member of the Research Working Group, Potatoes Canada and the Seed Potato Sub-Committee, which she served as national vice-chair. She has also been involved with the Seed Certification Section of the Potato Association of America (PAA). Sonier played a significant role in advocating on behalf of seed potato growers to both provincial and federal governments for the development of programs, policies and regulations that support viable growth of the industry.

Alvin Keenan, co-owner of Rollo Bay Holdings in Rollo Bay, P.E.I., was honoured with one of two Connery Awards, which are presented to those who portray leadership excellence and advancing interests in Canada’s horticulture industry. Keenan has served the farming community in a variety of ways. Notably, he was the Atlantic representative and past president of the CHC, a role he valued and made notable progress in. He was president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, the P.E.I. Farm Practices Review Board and a former director of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He is currently president of the board of the Grain Elevators Corporation in P.E.I. Keenan has been a mentor and advisor to those in the agriculture sector in general not only in P.E.I., but across the nation and beyond.

Other recipients of awards are Glen Lucas, Connery Award; Bev Appleby, a valued FVGC staff member and Beth Connery, Lifetime Achievement Award. The P.E.I. Potato Board congratulates all recipients of these prestigious, national awards.

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