Droog earns provincial honour

University of Lethbridge honorary degree recipient Dr. Tom Droog is among three accomplished Albertans who will be recognized for their significant professional contributions and inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame. Each inductee has been a catalyst for change in advancing their areas of expertise. The other inductees are Dr. Ieuan Evans and Mabel Church Hamilton.

The awards are presented every two years and this year's ceremony takes place at the Delta Edmonton South on October 5.

"These three individuals are terrific champions for their industries and have dedicated their lives to ensuring Alberta's agricultural industry progresses in new ways," said Verlyn Olson, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. "I am honoured to induct these three individuals and thank them for their dedication, ingenuity and hard work."

Dr. Tom Droog of DeWinton, and his late wife, Emmy, started growing sunflowers as an alternative crop and soon turned Spitz, which sells sunflower and pumpkin seeds in re-sealable bags, into a snack product that captured 75 per cent of the Canadian market.

Droog, a University of Lethbridge Honorary Degree recipient (2006) also recently established the Emmy Droog Chair in Complementary and Alternative Health Care – the Faculty of Health Science's first endowed Professorship. The professorship will enable evidence-based research to explore the issues and care practices associated with complementary and alternative medicine.

Parkland County's Dr. Ieuan Evans determined that prairie soil lacking copper hampers cereal production and when the mineral was added crop yields soared. As a horticulturalist, he propagated a species of cherry tree that is now sold commercially throughout Canada and the United States.

Mabel Church Hamilton of Innisfail, helped establish Angus cattle as one of the largest and most influential breeds in Canada. As a founding member of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency, she was instrumental in establishing the national cattle identification program.

Since 1951, the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame has recognized outstanding contributions to agriculture and rural development. To date, 126 leaders have been named to the Hall of Fame.