2013 Marilyn French

2013 Marie Greeniaus Award - Marilyn French

Dedicated, hard-working, tenacious, kind, patient and caring — these are just a few of the words used by colleagues to describe Marilyn French, this year’s recipient of the prestigious Marie Greeniaus Award. French has received the CSAAC’s highest honour after demonstrating high standards of commitment and leadership during more than 30 years as a seed testing professional and member of the CSAAC’s executive.

The Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada’s Outstanding Achievement Award was established in 2005. The first recipient was Marie Greeniaus, and in 2006, this award was renamed in honour and memory of the CSAAC’s dear friend. Recipients of the Marie Greeniaus Award are CSAAC members who, like Greeniaus, demonstrate true leadership of and dedication to the profession of seed testing in Canada.

Marilyn French is this year’s well-deserved recipient. French began her seed training at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon with Joanne Hinke and Dolly McIntosh. In 1979, she went to AAFC in Ottawa for a three-week-long seed school. There, French became acquainted with all of the Grade Tables and met Greeniaus, who became an important mentor and friend of French. With her initial specialty being Grade Tables VII and VIII, French was able to achieve partial accreditation, an accomplishment that enabled her to become the first CSAAC member to hold an associate membership.

Two years later, French became a fully-accredited analyst and senior member of the CSAAC. She then continued her education and involvement in seed testing by becoming accredited for the following: seed-borne disease testing in 1990, an associate member of the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists in 1996, a seed grader in 1999 and an international seed technologist in 2001.

French held many positions during her many years of membership in the CSAAC including membership chairperson, secretary, vice-president and president (at a time when there was no CSAAC executive director to help out). For a few years, French was the editor of the CSAAC newsletter, and following retirement she served on the association’s Ethics Committee.

French initially started working for the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool at its seed cleaning plant in White Fox, Sask., but the lab was later moved to nearby Nipawin. In 1997, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool labs were centralized at Innovation Place in Saskatoon, with French supervising the move. She retired from that position in 2002 to spend more time with her grandchildren and family. Still with some spare time on her hands and missing seed testing, French opted to work for Seed Check Technologies and later Viterra.

Common recollections from individuals French has worked with over the years are of a woman who exhibited a strong work ethic, dedication, tenacity, kindness, patience, gentleness, caring, respect — and a great sense of humour.

In her acceptance speech, French noted, “CSAAC has evolved over the years. I have seen seed testing become more consistent between labs and different countries as we have a close working relationship with the SCST [Society of Commercial Seed Technologists], AOSA [Association of Official Seed Analysts] and ISTA [International Seed Testing Association]. I have also seen many co-operations between governments and private sector. The Continuing Education Program has been such a contributor to this consistency as well.”

French also expressed her admiration for peers as well as the younger generation now involved with CSAAC, praising their efforts, dedication and progressive ideas. She also made sure to thank her staff, employers, fellow analysts and her family for all of their encouragement and support.