Board of Directors 2019-2020


Janice Elmhirst, BSc, PhD, British Columbia

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Janice joined the CFFAE Board of Directors in 2014 and was elected President in 2016.

Her company, Elmhirst Diagnostics & Research, conducts pest management research trials on a wide variety of horticultural crops in British Columbia for both government and industry. Her company strives to provide new, less toxic and more effective pest management alternatives to growers and to train young scientists in the techniques of conducting horticultural pest management trials.

Janice has a BSc in Environmental Biology from the University of Guelph and a PhD in Botany from the University of Toronto and is the author of many scientific articles and research reports. She is the co-author of “Garden Bugs of BC” and is dedicated to making plant pathology accessible to ornamental nursery growers and home gardeners. She is a past-President of the Canadian Phytopathological Society and national editor of the Canadian Plant Disease Survey.

Vice President

Mary Leggett, BSc, PhD, Saskatchewan


Mary joined the Board of Directors in 2018 and was elected Vice President in 2019. She has been a member of the CFFAE Education and Scholarship Committee since 2016.

Mary graduated from Trent University with a BSc in biology and geography and then completed an MPM and a PhD in Plant Pathology at Simon Fraser University. She worked at the University of Western Australia in Perth as a research fellow in soil science. She began work for Philom Bios in 1987and was involved with development of a quality assurance program, techniques for examining compatibility of biological products and chemical pesticides on seed, and strain development. Mary remained with the company when they were acquired by Novozymes in 2007. There she led a research group and helped others in the BioAg group design and analyze experiments and was later a member of the Global Agronomy Group and part of the Data Analysis Team. She has 21 publications including journal articles and book chapters and 3 patents. Mary retired from Novozymes in 2018.

Mary has been involved as a board member and volunteer with several organizations. She was a member of Committee on Scholarships and Fellowships of the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (2001-2004), and the AFIF Chair Agricultural Microbiology and Microbial Byproducts Steering Committee of the University of Saskatchewan (2003- 2010) and is currently a member of the President’s Biosafety Committee at the University of Saskatchewan. She has been actively involved with the Canadian Phytopathological Society working on several meeting local arrangement committees, acting as chair of the education committee, and serving as president of the CPS. Mary has served on the boards of Agriculture in the Classroom - Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Science Fair and an adult literacy group, Read Saskatoon.


Ron Bolton, BSc, MSc, Ontario

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Ron joined the CFFAE Board of Directors in 2018. He grew up on a dairy and swine farm in Oxford County near St. Marys, Ontario. From 1966-1971 he attended the Ontario Agriculture College graduating with a BSc (Agr) from the University of Guelph in 1971. Following graduation he was employed by OMAFRA in Rainy River District and later Lambton County with responsibilities that included the local 4-H programs, Extension Services and Farm Management Consultations with area farmers. He was enrolled in the MSc program at the University of Guelph in Extension Education from 1972-74.

From 1974-1984 Ron was involved full time with the family farm in Oxford County, which included 75 milk cows, 500 head beef feedlot, and cropping of 900-1,000 acres.

From 1984 to 2009 he was employed by CIBC in several positions, all directed towards agricultural financial services, including as Manager, Agriculture Department, Ontario Regions, with responsibilities to provide agriculture specialty liaison between farm clients and bank officers throughout Ontario.

Since retirement from CIBC, Ron’s activities have included being a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame, a member and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the South West Local Health Integration Network (ret), a member of the Ontario 4-H Board of Trustees, (ret), consulting on Succession Planning with farm families, and much traveling with his wife Mary Jo and lots of fun with 10 grandchildren.

Iris Meck, BSc, Alberta

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Iris Meck was elected to the CFFAE Board of Directors in 2018. She is a member of the Fundraising Committee.

During a career of over 30 years in agricultural communications and management, Iris has experience with primary producers, retailers, and manufacturers in crop protection, livestock associations, organic food sectors, food and health organizations, climate change and environmental sustainability initiatives, value added groups and the bio-economy sector.

After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Certificate in Management from the University of Manitoba, Iris’ career began with over 10 years with Cargill Limited in management positions. Iris then was the account manager for 2 of major agricultural communications and PR firms managing major accounts like Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (then), Westcan Malting, Hoechst (now Bayer CropScience) and Dow AgroSciences. In 1999 Iris ventured out on her own and started IMCI doing agricultural marketing and communications and realized opportunities in specializing in agricultural conferences as a turn-key operation.

In 2014, seeing the need for recognizing women in the ag sector, Iris created and to this day hosts the Advancing Women Conference (AWC), a leadership conference for women in agriculture. Every year, some 1000 women in the ag sector from across Canada and parts of the US attend AWC.

Iris was raised on a farm in Manitoba, and now lives and works in Calgary, Alberta.

Ginelle Pidwerbesky, BComm, Saskatchewan

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Ginelle Pidwerbesky joined the CFFAE Board of Directors in 2019. She grew up largely involved in her Dad’s grain farm operation near Borden, SK. Attending school in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, she developed her love for agriculture on weekends and holidays, learning at a young age how to run equipment, identify crop pests and work with hired employees. After graduating High School, she moved to Orlando, FL to work for Disney Corp at the celebrated Epcot Centre.

After completing her 12-month work term in the US, Ginelle returned to Saskatoon to attend the University of Saskatchewan and complete her Commerce degree with a major in Human Resources. She started farming full time with her Dad in 2011 and, armed with an insatiable desire to learn, began working as a Territory Manager for CANTERRA SEEDS in early 2012. Along with two friends who shared her love for agriculture, Ginelle co-founded the Saskatchewan Women in Ag organization that same year. As the organization's Executive Director, she and the other Board Members work to provide programs, opportunities, and events that connect, support and empower all women related to agriculture while strengthening the industry as a whole.

Yvonne Thyssen-Post, BSc, MAdEd, PAg, Nova Scotia

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Yvonne Thyssen-Post was elected to the CFFAE Board of Directors in 2014.

Yvonne is a Professional Agrologist with over 30 years of experience working in the agricultural industry in Atlantic Canada. She is President of Thyagrissen Consulting Limited which she formed in 1998 after having worked with the Nova Scotia government as an extension agent (Agricultural Representative) for 14 years. As a business consultant, she helps business owners improve their bottom line by expanding their understanding of business management principles, in particular the financial aspects, and by developing future plans for prosperity and succession.

Yvonne has worked with over 300 farm families and 30+ organizations in Atlantic Canada helping them improve their business operations. She also is an educator, currently a part-time academic at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture, and an approved instructor with the Workplace Education Programs. She also has contracts as part-time Coordinator for Greenhouse Nova Scotia and CEO with the Atlantic Poultry Research Institute.

Yvonne obtained a BSc (Agriculture) from NSAC/McGill University and a Masters in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier. She resides in Bible Hill, NS with her husband Gerald and daughter Reann.


Frances Rodenburg, BA, Ontario