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L-R: Mary Kay Sonier, Alvin Keenan and Brenda Simmons
L-R: Mary Kay Sonier, Alvin Keenan and Brenda Simmons
March 07, 2024

Three deserving Prince Edward Islanders have received recognition on the national agriculture stage. They are Mary Kay Sonier, Alvin Keenan and Brenda Simmons.


They received their awards in person at the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC, annual general meeting which was held in Ottawa March 5-7.


Mary Kay Sonier, the former seed coordinator for the PEI Potato industry was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Member of FVGC.   Mary Kay’s deep farming knowledge has played a key role on her involvement on numerous national and international committees and working groups over the years. She has been an active member of the Canadian Potato Council for many years including a key member of the Research Working Group, Potatoes Canada, and the Seed Potato Sub-Committee, which she served as national vice-chair. She has also been involved with the Seed Certification Section of the Potato Association of America (PAA). Mary Kay played a significant role advocating on behalf of seed potato growers to both provincial and federal governments for the development of programs, policies and regulations that support viable growth of the industry.


Alvin Keenan, co-owner of Rollo Bay Holdings in Rollo Bay, PEI was honoured with one of two Connery Awards, which are presented to those who portray leadership excellence and advancing interests in Canada’s horticulture industry.  Alvin has served the farming community in a variety of ways. Notably, he was the Atlantic representative and past president of the Canadian Horticultural Council, a role he valued and made notable progress in. He was president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture, the PEI Farm Practices Review Board, and a former director of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He currently sits as president of the Board of the Grain Elevators Corporation in PEI. Alvin has been a key mentor and advisor to those in the agriculture sector in general not only in PEI, but across the nation and beyond.


Brenda Simmons, the former assistant general manager of the PEI Potato Board was presented with one of two Lifetime Achievement Awards. Brenda played a significant and dedicated role within the FVGC, particularly with the Canadian Potato Council.  Her involvement as a director of the CPC for many years and her tenure as vice chair highlights her commitment to the organization.  Brenda’s understanding of the agriculture sector positioned her as the go-to person not only for PEI, but across the country.  Her ability to navigate complex issues and guide stakeholders through challenging times underscores her leadership and expertise.


Other recipients of awards are Glen Lucas, retiring general manager of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association winning the Connery Award; Bev Appleby, recognized hard-working executive assistant of FVGC and Beth Connery, Riverdale Farms, Portage la Prairie, MB, winning the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Source:  PEI Potato Board March 7, 2024 news release


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Submitted by Karen Davidson on 7 March 2024