2000-2008: The Formative Years
During 2001 and 2002, much work was done in giving shape and content to the newly independent organization, to be named the Canadian Weed Science Society – Société canadienne de malherbologie (CWSS-SCM). A paid membership base already had been in place for several years, an Executive Assistant was appointed, and the new name and by-laws were officially proclaimed on 28 June 2002. The 2002 inaugural meeting of the Canadian Weed Science Society in Saskatoon saw an attendance of 230. The new name was proclaimed at the meeting with the de-topping of a Canada thistle plant (a weed scientists version of cutting the ribbon!) The Expert Committee on Integrated Pest Management (ECIPM) were associated guests of the Annual Meeting, members of which participated in the Plenary Session entitled: Field Boundary Habitats: Implications for Weed, Insect, and Disease Management in Canada . There were two additional workshops held at the meeting, one on Reduced Herbicide Rates, the second on Herbicide Resistant Wheat. The Herbicide Resistant Wheat Workshop, represented by a range of opinions, was stimulating and provocative. Twenty graduate students presented papers, one of the largest groups ever to present up to that time. There were ten working groups, based loosely on the structure of the European Weed Research Society, six of which had organized sessions at the meeting. Awards for Excellence in Weed Science, Outstanding Industry Award, travel awards and scholarships for graduate students, Best Graduate student presentation and Best Poster presentation were presented at the inaugural meeting. Society membership during the inaugural year stood at 165, with 134, 24, and 7 respective regular, student, and corporate members. The organization was on its way.
Annual meeting locations continued on an east-west rotation with subsequent meetings held in Halifax, Winnipeg, Niagara Falls, and Victoria. The 2006 meeting at Victoria was notable in that the LAC applied for and received a generous grant from the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program through Environment Canada to support the costs of the symposium and the publication of the proceedings. The early success of these meetings resulted in a relatively financially stable organization.
During this time, papers from the Plenary sessions were published in a series called Topics in Canadian Weed Science. Prior to the Topics in Canadian Weed Science series, ECW had published one of their symposia into a monograph called “Integrated Weed Management: Explore the Potential” from the 2000 Annual Meeting held in Banff, AB. The first volume of the Topics in Canadian Weed Science was published in 2005 including the papers from the inaugural CWSS-SCM meeting in Saskatoon. There were nine volumes of the series published from 2005 to 2011. The series was popular with the members; however, the volumes failed to generate enough revenue to justify the work and cost involved with their publication and were discontinued. The series are available in PDF format at: https://www.weedscience.ca/topics-in-weed-science/. Annual meeting proceedings are archived on our website and can be accessed here: https://www.weedscience.ca/resources/annual-meeting-archived-files/.
2007-2016 Transition and Evolution
As the society evolved, it became evident that the working groups were losing their effectiveness and were not the most effective vehicle for transferring information between members. In 2007, the working groups were disbanded and replaced by program sections, similar to the structure of the Weed Science Society of America and their regional societies. Volunteer papers are presented annually in their respective program section. The Program Sections are:
• Cereals, oilseeds and pulses
• Horticulture and special crops
• Corn, Soybean, and edible beans
• Forage, rangeland, forestry and industrial vegetative management
• Weed biology and ecology / Invasive and noxious weeds
• Provincial Reports /Regulatory Updates
Following the formative years, it became evident that the Society was not financially or structurally stable. Under the leadership of President Clarence Swanton, the Board of Directors and the society underwent significant change in 2008. The responsibilities of the Executive Assistant and the Board of Directors were clearly defined with the Executive Assistant position reduced to part-time and the Board of Directors assuming a more active role in the operation and vision of the Society. The Board of Directors expanded to include representation from the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). A five-year strategic plan was developed with goals and milestones. This strategic plan set the foundation for CWSS-SCM and was critical to the success of the society in this time period. Follow-up strategic plans have been developed and implemented in 2013 and 2017.
The CWSS-SCM website underwent its first major re-design in 2008, led by Mike Cowbrough. In addition, the society entered the world of social media with the development of a Facebook page. A few years later, a Twitter page was added and both of these applications have become important tools for communicating to the membership.
Member recognition is an important component of a professional society. In 2007, the society established Fellow Awards to honour members who have made outstanding contributions to weed science and their society throughout their careers. Multiple awards were given in 2007 and 2008 to recognize the backlog of deserving candidates. Since 2008, only one Fellow Award has been awarded annually. The following awards have also been added: Meritorious Service Award (now the Presidential Meritorious Service Award) (2008); Excellence in Weed Extension (2009); Outstanding Professional Staff Award (2017) and the Canadian Journal of Plant Science Outstanding Paper Award (2017). The Award winners for members are listed at: https://www.weedscience.ca/past-award-winners/ and the student award winners are listed at https://www.weedscience.ca/students/.
A joint meeting with the Weed Science Society of America was held in Vancouver in 2014. Approximately 500 WSSA and 140 CWSS members attended the event. Both the societies felt that the joint meeting was a win-win for both organizations; however, it was also a challenge for CWSS-SCM as they ended up holding 2 annual meetings 9 months apart. The idea of holding joint annual meetings with other societies has been discussed since then; however, no further joint meetings have materialized. Another joint meeting with WSSA is being considered in 2022.
In 2015, the Agriculture Institute of Canada (AIC) sold their academic journals to Canadian Science Publishing (CSP), resulting in new Memorandum of Understandings with CWSS-SCM and long-term sponsorship. CWSS-SCM provides CSP with four subject matter editors plus an Associate Editor for the Biology of Canadian Weeds and Invasive Species series. The sponsorship from CSP resulted in the development of the CJPS Outstanding Paper Award mentioned earlier.
During this time-frame, the discipline of weed science faced many challenges, some of which continue to the present. Many public and some academic positions were eliminated by budget cuts and attrition, which made it challenging to retain core membership. Positions within the pesticide industry have evolved as well with most of the positions being responsible for more than just weed control, and include management of other pests such as diseases, and insects. Thus, those employed by the industry have many competing professional societies that they could join, and annual meetings they could attend. Additionally, ongoing consolidation within the pesticide industry has reduced the number of companies involved in weed control, which impacts both membership and sponsorship.
2017 to Present: A New Generation
Despite challenges, CWSS-SCM remains a vibrant society. Most of the people involved in the formation of the society have retired leaving the door open for a new generation of weed scientists to shape the direction of the society in the future. Fortunately, a number of new weed scientist positions, particularly with the Federal government, have been filled by former graduate student members of CWSS-SCM. A new five-year strategic plans was developed by the Board of Directors in 2017. The 2018 membership sits at 130 members, down slightly from the formative years, but still a strong enough core to carry out the mission of CWSS-SCM.
1Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
2Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario