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This article was published 6/1/2017 (1310 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A passion for conservation that has lasted a lifetime began in the dirt for Fort Garry’s Edward Poyser.
Poyser, who is known as Ted by colleagues and family, was recently recognized by the province for his work in soil sciences, conservation, and his role in the creation of the Whitemud Watershed Conservation District.
On Dec. 21, the province renamed the Sight Hill Unit of the Whitemud Watershed Wildlife Management Area to the Edward A. Poyser Unit. It is located south of MacGregor, Man.
"It’s a good feeling for me," the 90-year-old said. "When I was a little boy I lived two miles (from the unit). So when my dad went to get trees from there, my job when I got home from school every night was go to that damn woodpile and split wood.
"Over the years it’s always been my hope that something more substantial could be done and it would be preserved," Poyser said.
Poyser worked for the Manitoba Soil Survey in the late 1940s and is credited with publishing some of the province’s first soil survey reports (though he says that praise rightly belongs to University of Manitoba professor Joe Ellis), and had a long career in government developing conservation and rural development policies with stakeholders.
During his time with Manitoba’s Department of Agriculture as a soil specialist, Poyser led the charge in creating the Whitemud Watershed Conservation District and after retiring from public service, chaired the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation from 1989 to 2001.
Poyser said it was his work on the family farm near Austin, Man. that sparked his interest in soils and what he describes as the "fabric we depend on for life."
"I’m a farm boy; you get out there and ride that bloody tractor up and down, and some places produce pretty good crops and some places don’t produce very good crops — what’s going wrong? What’s in the soil and what’s the difference?" Poyser said, musing about his early interest with the landscape.
"I started out as a guy that loved frogs and tiddly toads. So it was natural for me to gravitate to that."
Once enrolled at the U of M, Poyser’s dedication to understanding the relationship between soils, waterways, agriculture and conservation was solidified under the mentorship of Ellis.
"Joe Ellis sparked my imagination," Poyser said. "He was an English man with sparkling eyes and a vision of what Manitoba could be and what a wonderful place it was."
Since that time, conservation and maintenance has been at the root of everything Poyser has done over the past 50 years.
"Use without abuse — that whole idea of the use of land without the abuse of resources," he said. "That’s what conservation means to me — leave the land unmarked if you can, hopefully you haven’t made too big of a hole."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.
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