Seed World

CSAAC Hands Out 2017 Awards

Michele Kulba

The Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC) handed out its 2017 Marie Greenius and Honorary Member Awards at its annual meeting in Kelowna, B.C., May 29-31.

The 2017 Marie Greeniaus Award winner is Michele Kulba. Michele has been in the seed industry for over 37 years, a member of CSAAC since 1986, and a senior analyst since 1989. She has been an exceptional role model in the seed industry to anyone who has worked with her.

Michele grew up in the small town of Spirit River, Alta., where her parents had a hobby farm, and her father built elevators for the Alberta Wheat Pool. She started working for the Alberta Wheat Pool right after high school in 1980, where she trained and became a fully accredited seed analyst. Working for the Wheat Pool meant moving to Grande Prairie, where she met her husband Doug Kulba. They were married in 1987, and have one son, Brennan.

When the Alberta Wheat Pool shut down, Michele was hired as lab manager for BioVision Seed Lab when they opened a second location in Grande Prairie in the fall of 2002 and has been working for BioVision ever since. Michele has been serving as the CSAAC membership board member or as a member of that committee for many years. She is well known in the Peace Country area for her knowledge of the seed industry and has volunteered as a judge for the seed fair for a number of years. Anyone who has worked with Michele knows what a hard worker she is, dedicating her career to the seed industry.

The 2017 CSAAC Honorary Member is Jim Sheppard. Jim was raised in Saint John, N.B., graduating from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 1970, and went on to obtain his BSc and MSc in plant pathology from McGill University in the 1970s. He joined Agriculture Canada in the mid-1970s doing a brief stint in the Plant Protection program in the Maritimes; he then became the head of the Seedborne Disease Unit of the Seed Biology Laboratory in Ottawa. Jim retired from this position at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2004.

Jim’s responsibilities were to manage the seed pathology testing service provided by the Laboratory Services Division and also represent Canada at the international forums in this field. He became known internationally for his service to the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) Plant Disease Committee, which he was a member of for more than 20 years and chaired for a decade. In this role he organized and led workshops on seed health testing around the world, which introduced participants to proper application of seed health testing methods and also how to improve the process for their development.

Through Jim’s leadership the committee became an effective blend of government, university, and private company experts. During this period he led the committee through the development of ISTA’s Seed Health Method Validation Program, which introduced the concepts of modern method validation process into seed testing. This approach was adapted by ISTA as the process leading to the approval of Rules for Seed Testing in 2005 and provided an avenue for the use of performance-based molecular biology methods in the ISTA system. This ensured that ISTA’s programs for the approval of seed testing rules, lab accreditation and proficiency testing were equivalent to those occurring internationally in other fields of analytical testing.

Jim was not only a biologist but also a computer and software “geek”. He loves helping others get into the use of modern software applications and was a major force in assisting ISTA in establishing its first web page and being its first webmaster in the late 1990s. In 2012, the CSAAC board of directors and the executive director decided it was time to update and change the CSAAC website. Jim was approached with the offer and the new website went live in October 2012. Since then, Jim has worked closely with the executive directors to keep the website up-to-date and accurate with the information and links that seed analysts need.

Jim has been a pleasure to work with and has been eager and committed to the task. He created a Members Only login section that has helped us help our members track continuing education points and streamlined the duties of the executive director.

We honour Jim for his valuable talents and leadership as both CSAAC webmaster and his contributions to seed pathology testing during his time at CFIA.