May/June 2016
A family affair By Bill Schaefer

With this, our second annual Women of the Industry issue, Spudman attempts to remedy the situation by recognizing the important roles women are playing in the industry today.

From farming and research to regulatory and biotechnology, we see more women taking on leadership roles in the global potato industry.

The three women featured in this issue – Eugenia Banks, Silvia Rondon and Liz Sanders – represent the research and business sectors of the North American potato market, but their impact extends globally.

For 25 years, Eugenia Banks has been the point person for the potato industry in the Canadian province of Ontario. Though recently retired from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, she plans to be a force in the potato world for many years ahead.

During the past 10 years, entomologist Silvia Rondon has been helping growers in the Pacific Northwest confront pest pressures that impact plant health and tuber yields from her lab at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Originally from Peru, Rondon’s research has come full circle, taking her back to the Andean highlands where her grandmother once grew potatoes.

On the business side, Liz Sanders is the general manager of the CSS nuclear seed and tissue culture facility in Colorado City, Colorado. Under bright blue Colorado skies and more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Sanders oversees a hydroponic facility where they grow 6 million min-tubers annually for CSS farms.

Along with these three profiles, Washington State University’s Debra Inglis is the author of the Potato Association of America feature, and Lorie Ewing answers the Spudman 7 questions.

What I have discovered in covering the potato industry is that it’s not about gender. It’s about family. To borrow a quote from Family Affair,” a song by Sly and the Family Stone: “Blood’s thicker than mud, it’s a family affair.”

It’s the dedication all the people in the industry bring to their jobs that makes this such a great field to cover as a journalist. To all the Spudmen and Spudwomen out there, thank you for making my job so interesting and rewarding. Until the next issue.

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