Seed World

AOSCA Celebrates Dr. Bill Foote with Honorary Lifetime Membership


Bill Foote, director of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Division, honored at AOCSA’s AGM. 

Each year, the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies celebrates the long-time and substantial efforts of one or two seed industry members via an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award.

In 2022, AOSCA chose to award Dr. Bill Foote, director of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Division, with the prestigious award. Foote was not able to attend the AOSCA AGM in 2022, so AOSCA opted to postpone by a year, recognizing him at this year’s AGM instead. 

The award, which has been presented since 1946, is important to AOSCA “as it is a way we can show appreciation for those whom have dedicated their career to the certified seed industry,” says Sarah Wilbanks, AOSCA’s CEO. 

At the awards ceremony, held during AOSCA’s annual general meeting, North Dakota State Seed Commissioner, Ken Bertsch, described Foote’s lifetime in agriculture and seed with the following biography:

Bill Foote

Foote grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and is a proud alum of the University of Cincinnati, where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. At the same time – alongside intensive studies – he started his own 250-acre fruit and vegetable farm, greenhouse, and retail market in northeast Ohio. 

Within a short time, Foote went on to obtain a PhD in crop science at North Carolina State University, where he met his wife, Pattie. Upon graduation from NC State, Foote accepted the role of director of the North Carolina Crop Improvement Association. He served as the AOSCA southern region representative and on the AOSCA board from 2015- 2021 and was the organization’s president during AOSCA’s centennial celebratory year in 2018-2019. 

In addition to these volunteer leadership roles, Foote has served on numerous committees and worked tirelessly on high profile issues including – but not limited to – the creation of hemp standards and development of an association strategic plan. Foote served both NC Crop Improvement Association and AOSCA with distinction from 2012 until his departure from NCCIA in 2021 when he was appointed by the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture to lead the Plant Industry Division of the Department of Agriculture. 

Foote is proud father to five and grandfather too. 

Several of Foote’s colleagues wrote letters of support for his nomination. Among those words were these messages:

“Dr. Foote’s service and professional guidance that he provided to North Carolina Seedsmen and National Seed Industries are well respected and admired throughout. I had the privilege of working alongside Bill for almost 10 years. I saw first-hand Bill’s contributions that modernized the certification programs that are administered throughout the certifying agencies worldwide.” – Dustin Auman, executive director of the North Carolina Crop Improvement Association. 

“The relationships that Bill garnered within the certifying agencies and throughout the Seed Industry during his tenure has provided growth to the AOSCA memberships and strengthen the Certification Brand,” says Dr. Sarah Wilbanks, AOSCA CEO. “Bill has and continues to contribute to the seed industry. He has served AOSCA in different capacities over the years, bringing insight and expertise to challenging situations. It is people like this gentleman who are the backbone of a strong association and I am thankful for his years of service.” 

“It was my pleasure to serve on the AOSCA Board of Directors from June 2015 to June 2021. Bill’s dedicated service to the Board includes terms as Vice President, President, and Past President. His contributions to the development of workable hemp standards greatly contributed to certification member agencies ability to provide services to this expanding crop group and its seed and plant suppliers.  Bill’s dedication to seed certification and AOSCA is unparalleled, and he is very deserving of receiving honorary membership.” – Ken Bertsch, North Dakota State Seed Commissioner.

Congratulations, Dr. Foote, on a well-earned award!