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Sask. Ag Hall of Fame inducts six

Six people have been named to the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Burton Craig of Saskatoon, James Lewthwaite of Redvers, Lillian

McConnell of Regina, Oscar Mossing of Bengough, Herbert Sparrow of North Battleford and Alexander Webster of Regina will be inducted on Aug. 5 at Saskatoon’s Western Development Museum.

Burton Craig

  • Craig was a key developer and promoter of canola. He started his 39-year research career at the University of Saskatchewan in 1944 and moved to the National Research Council in 1950.

Craig developed test procedures that were used to identify fatty acid profiles in rapeseed varieties. The test helped plant breeders who were trying to develop rapeseed varieties that contained little or no undesirable fatty acids, which is known today as canola.

Craig’s test shortened the time it took to develop canola.

He also pioneered nutritional experiments with vegetable oils and their meals, and introduced rapeseed to the oilseed processing industry. The industry was geared to process sunflowers and soybeans, but eventually rapeseed and later canola gained a larger share in the human and animal food markets.

Craig became director of the NRC’s prairie regional laboratory in 1970 and retired in 1983. He died Dec. 27, 1997.

Jim Lewthwaite

  • Lewthwaite was a member of a group of stock growers that founded Canadian Western Agribition, held in Regina each November.

He was born in Redvers in 1917. He served as the secretary of the Saskatchewan Hereford Association from 1969 to 1976. During that time, he became involved in exporting breeding stock to Japan.

In 1971, he began work on a committee to set up a large livestock show on the Prairies that could rival Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair.

Lewthwaite served as Agribition interim manager in 1977 and controller from 1977-81, co-ordinated Agribition’s Agriculture Market Assistance Program, which gave the show world-wide prominence, and was named the fair’s first honorary board member.

He chaired the World Hereford Congress in Banff, Alta., in 1976.

Lillian McConnell

  • McConnell is a home economist who taught farmers and homemakers how to use electricity and natural gas safely and efficiently.

McConnell obtained her bachelor of household science at the University of Saskatchewan in 1950.

After graduation she became assistant home editor at Country Guide magazine. In 1955, she moved to CFRN-TV in Edmonton, where she talked about food and other home economics subjects.

In 1956, McConnell became the first Penny Powers, an extension home economist with Sask Power to help farm families learn how to make the best use of electricity and natural gas. She spread the information at fairs and workshops, and through newspaper and magazine stories and columns.

She was active in the Saskatchewan and Canadian home economics associations and has been honored by both those groups for her achievements. She has also been active with the Consumers Association of Canada and Saskatchewan Women’s Network.

Oscar Mossing

  • Mossing played a key role in establishing rat control programs in Saskatchewan. He was born at Bengough, Sask., and took his early schooling there, later attending Luther College in Outlook, Sask.

Agricultural losses due to rat infestation have been estimated at between $15 million and $20 million per year. Mossing used his own time and resources to deal with what he considered a major problem.

He set up a control program in his own district and helped other regions establish similar ones.

He was instrumental in setting up a buffer zone along the Alberta border, helping that province maintain its rat-free status.

Doing much of the work at his own expense, he sold the idea of a district rat control program to 15 rural municipalities around Moose Jaw. Each paid a levy to finance the program.

He became supervisor of the district program and eventually for Saskatchewan’s southwest region.

Mossing organized the Saskat-chewan Pest Control Officer’s Association, which now has a membership of 160. He served on the association’s executive until his death in 1997.

Herb Sparrow

  • Sparrow has been a strong advocate of soil conservation. He was educated in Saskatoon and later bought a farm in the North Battleford area.

He was appointed to the Canadian Senate at the age of 38 and there established his reputation as an advocate of preserving the environment.

While chair of the Senate’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry committee, he helped write the book Soil at Risk: Canada’s Eroding Future.

He was founder and first president of Soil Conservation Canada.

Out of this group came the Save Our Soils program, which focused on grassing waterways, seeding marginal and saline soils to forage and reducing tillage.

He addressed the United Nation’s Environmental Program in Australia, where he received that organization’s medal and certificate of distinction for soil conservation.

Among other honors, he was named an honorary life member of the Agricultural Institute of Canada and of the Soil Science Society of Canada.

Jim Webster

  • Webster has served as an extension worker and senior administrator during his 38 years in public service in Saskatchewan.

He was raised on a farm near St. Walburg, Sask., and earned his bachelor of science in agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 1949 and his master’s degree in extension education from Colorado State University in 1953.

Webster worked as an agricultural representative at Tisdale, Sask., for six years following graduation, then as assistant director of the Agricultural Representative Branch, director of the Animal Industry Branch and director of the Production and Marketing Branch from 1967 to 1972.

He emphasized the importance of working closely with farm families and farm organizations to meet their needs.

Webster was founding president of the Canadian Society of Extension and a past-president of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists and the Agricultural Institute of Canada.

He is a fellow of the AIC and an honorary life member of the Sask-atchewan Agricultural Graduates’ Association and the Saskatchewan Dairy Association. Sask Sport has honored Webster for his long-term contribution as a speed skating coach.

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