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Leslie MacDonald
by Ray Bennedetti

Leslie MacDonald is known to most or all of our membership as one of the leading authorities concerning turf diseases. She is definitely the go-to person when in doubt about identifying a specific disease or control method. Recently, Leslie has done a great deal of research work for the WCTA and has written many outstanding and informative articles for the Turfline News. She also put in many hours on the WCTA / Ministry of Agriculture publication "Turfgrass Disease and Pest Management Guide". For these accomplishments alone we owe her a huge standing ovation.

Leslie received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at U.B.C., and she says her informal education has continued since through discussions and attending conferences. Leslie has also taken various courses at Kwantlen, U.B.C., and at the University of Victoria.

Leslie began her career in plant pathology in 1984 doing contract jobs. Her first industry job was with Dave Ormond (some of you may remember Dave, who co-wrote "Diseases of Lawns" with Dr. Steve Fushley in the mid-1980's). Leslie's first job with the BC Ministry of Agriculture was running the Plant Diagnostic Lab. In 1990, Leslie was promoted to Plant Pathologist, which is her current job.

It was in the Provincial Lab that Leslie started receiving turf disease samples. Now, Leslie reflects humbly back to her first experiences with our turf problems - "They were very difficult to work with at first because I had no experience with this industry. I knew about fungi, and how they cause disease, but one has to understand how the host plant (i.e. turfgrass) grows and be knowledgeable about it's environment to understand diseases and their management. So, with help from Dave Ormond, Tom Cook, Gary Chastagner, Brian Holl and of course folks in the WCTA such as Bob Wick, Cliff Gallant, Dave Sullivan, Dave Davidson, Joe Veller, Ashley LeGeyt and many others who have spent time discussing their ideas and sharing their experiences, I have learned more about turfgrass diseases." Leslie feels that the haul thus far has been "challenging, but very worthwhile", and has grown to love the turf industry.

Leslie's job at the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food also involves work with current plant pathology problems in other plant varieties. She currently works with the raspberry, blueberry, floriculture, hazelnut and greenhouse vegetable industries.

Leslie is greatly impressed by the dedication and professionalism of turfgrass industry folks. "Everyone has been, on the whole, very pleasant to work with, and I usually gain something from each and every experience. I think that managing turfgrass is one of the toughest jobs - whether it is at a golf course, in the landscape or on a sportsfield. The growing part is tough enough, but it is the other aspects such as dealing with golfers, clients, Greens Committees, and everyone involved in using playing fields that is really tough. Many of the above know just enough about growing grass to be really dangerous. In reality, they do not understand the many challenges and difficulties that their demands put on the turf ecosystem. It is stick-handling these folks that tests one's mettle. I am also impressed at the broad range of duties and responsibilities that many industry folks accomplish - from labour management, public relations, starting programs such as the Audubon program, being involved with the WCTA and other organizations, etc. - quite impressive!"

When asked about experiences that may have been unique or interesting Leslie savors two feats. The first was authoring the "Disease and Pest" Bulletin on turfgrass. "It helped pull many things together for me. It was very rewarding to have the support of industry to print it, and then to have the industry's acceptance." The other experience that Leslie found fascinating was the 'Traveling Roadshows' with Bob Wick and Joe Veller. "They gave me the opportunity to get to know these two gentlemen better, and it was great to see and meet others in various parts of the province. I enjoyed seeing the different climatic and growing conditions that occur in BC."

Leslie's future goals are to continue to learn, and to continue to contribute to enhance the industry, and I must say that with her positive attitude, well written and easy to read articles, and her openness towards helping all of us in learning or assessing difficult situations, I'm not sure how she can contribute more (but I'm sure she'll find a way).

Leslie is pleased with the direction that our industry is taking. "I see the industry as moving forward. The educational level of industry folks is increasing, which has to be good. There is greater environmental awareness, and more public relations to educate the clients and public about what is happening. It would be great to see more research in BC - and that is a challenge for the research committee - to keep the momentum going!"

Leslie MacDonald lives in Fort Langley with her husband Stuart, her new baby boy Bennett (born Sept.2/99) and their two cats. While Leslie is on maternity leave, her colleague Elizabeth Hudgins is filling in for her and can be reached at the usual phone number (604) 556-3029.

Thank-you Leslie for leading us into the new Millennium!

Turf Line News December 1999/January 2000

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