Ellen Sparry – Honorary Life Award Recipient 2018

Ellen was born and raised on a mixed family farm near Fergus, Ont., where she could most often be found out in the field with her father, picking up his passion for agriculture. In the mid-1970’s came a move for the family to a cash crop farm near Glencoe, where time spent helping with the corn harvest solidified Ellen’s interest in field crops. Ellen is a graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph, where her studies focused on plant agriculture and breeding.

Upon graduation, she joined King Agro in Listowel as the cereal research technician followed by positions in the brassica program as senior research technician and then assistant breeder.

Ellen joined C&M Seeds in 1994 as genetics manager, leading the company’s genetics and research program. She was appointed to the role of general manager in June 2015 and today continues to direct C&M Seeds towards its primary focus of providing industry-leading and innovative cereal genetics to Eastern Canada. Over the past 20 years, she has registered over 26 cereal and eight soybean varieties, and obtained Plant Breeders Rights on 14 varieties on behalf of C&M’s breeding partners.

Along with her daily activities at C&M, Ellen is actively involved in the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee coordinating the provincial cereal trials. She also acts as secretary of the Wheat Technical Committee and currently sits on the board of the Canadian Seed Trade Association and represents CSTA on the International Seed Federation Board and Field Crops committee.  Ellen was granted CSGA Associate Plant Breeder Status in 2014 and has supervised the production of over 40 breeder seed plots of various crops.

Ellen credits her success to having good leaders and role models throughout her life and career.  “I truly am blessed to be living my dream — I’m part of an industry I love where I get to interact with the farming community, work with the best people, and at the end of the day hang out in a field of grain.”