Jeanne Debons has been working with the non-profit organization the Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI) since July 2006 when she returned to Oregon after working overseas for 14 years. She received her doctorate in 1986 from Oregon State University under the direction of Mary Powelson in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and Scott Overton of the Statistics Department and had originally worked at the Central Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Redmond, Ore., and then Madras. Debons works out of her home in Bend, Ore., with her husband, who takes care of all the bookkeeping, reports, taxes and database jobs for PVMI.
1) What are the best words of advice you’ve received?
From my Dad: If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
2) What are your goals for the next 12 months?
To publicize the new PVMI annual license fees which have been reduced to $100 for Tri-State growers and $250 per year to those outside the area. I hope this will encourage new growers to evaluate the PVMI Tri-State varieties. It is about finding out which varieties are best for different areas and different purposes. Several of the new varieties require a substantial reduction of inputs, including nitrogen and pesticides, and this could really benefit seed growers.
3) What do you do to relax to get away from work?
I enjoy botanical painting and teaching workshops in my spare time. To keep fit, I run and also enjoy skiing, hiking and kayaking. I love to garden and see plants grow.
4) What would you like to be your lasting legacy?
I would like to get PVMI to where it becomes an accepted and successful contributor to the university potato breeding and research programs. In addition, I would like to continue to enhance PVMI’s Web site so it becomes an even better tool to help growers and industry access new variety information.
5) Top three things on your bucket list/ must do list:
Tour South America, see Ayers Rock or should I say Uluru and see the Galapagos Islands.
6) What would you be doing if you weren’t with PVMI and the Tri-State Potato Research and Breeding Program?
I would like to think I would be painting and teaching botanical illustration full time.
7) The one truth you’ve learned about the potato industry:
It includes a great bunch of characters who behave just like a family, sometimes dysfunctional, often in crisis, but always friendly and caring and down to earth.