Seed World

Ron DePauw Says Think of Your Job as a Hobby

Germination put out the call for nominations to identify some of our industry’s most important mentors who have played a role in helping the next generation develop their skills. We had three main criteria: they be a person who’s demonstrated proven mentorship skills; they be at least 55 years of age; and they be retired from their main seed industry job. Here’s the ninth of who we selected for 2022.

Age: 78

Location: Saskatchewan

Known for: Communicating the wonder of science

After over 40 years as a plant breeder, Ron DePauw retired from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2015. During his career he released over 60 varieties — including AC Barrie, which captured over 60% of Prairie wheat acres at the time — and AAC Brandon, the top CWRS variety in Western Canada since 2016.

In retirement, he has acted as science advisor for SeCan. In this role he has coached and mentored a wide range of plant breeding programs and researchers in Canada and other parts of the world. He willingly shares his experience and knowledge to help breeders efficiently move their programs forward, says Todd Hyra, western business manager for SeCan.

He regularly meets with new breeders (private and public) to discuss program design, targets and more. He coaches and conducts workshops on trial design and execution for breeding programs, as well as independent researchers.

DePauw is recognized internationally as a wheat breeder and reviewer of scientific papers. He is also currently a director for the Borlaug Training Foundation, established to educate early-career scientists.

He says a big secret to success in plant breeding is to stay curious and embrace lifelong learning.

“Change is happening so fast, and you have to stay current. Science has always been a hobby for me; it’s never felt like a job. Making a new discovery is like getting a hole-in-one in golf,” he says.

“I like to challenge others with how new knowledge will be translated so that there will be food for all.”

For more Mentors Who Matter visit:

When it was Go Time, Wes Woods was All-in

Michael Patten Knows How to Equip Others for Success

Peter Marshall Showed Others How to Work

How Rick Turner Never Lost Focus on the Grower

How Daniel Perry Ushered in a Quiet Revolution of DNA-Based Seed Testing

How Cathy Breadner Makes People Want to be Seed Analysts

Plant Breeders! Do Your Work With a Collaborative Spirit, Says Harvey Voldeng

Never Stop Learning and Nourish Your Network, says Plant Breeding Legend Bryan Harvey