Member Profiles

Member Profile

Ryan Barrett, P.Ag.

Research and Agronomy Coordinator, PEI Potato Board

In his role as Research Coordinator, Ryan works to ensure that the research priorities of PEI potato growers are being addressed as well as communicating research results back to growers and industry partners.  He is also the project lead for the Agronomy Initiative for Marketable yield (AIM), an industry partnership to improve agronomy practices with processing growers.

Prior to joining the Potato Board in 2012, Ryan worked in the dairy industry as a Publications Editor for Jersey Canada in Guelph, Ontario. He also currently serves as Secretary-Manager of the Canadian Milking Shorthorn Society.  This interest in the dairy industry comes from his family’s dairy and beef farm with registered Milking Shorthorns and Jerseys, which he remains involved with. Ryan obtained a B.Sc (Agr) from the Dalhousie Faculty of Agriculture and a M.Sc. specializing in animal genetics from the University of Guelph. He currently serves a first year Council member for the PEI Institute of Agrologists and is a Certified Crop Advisor.

Member Profile

Lindsay Birch, AIT

Field Research Associate for Atlantic Canada, NutriAg Ltd.

Lindsay has worked in many sectors of the agriculture industry including local research projects with crop protectants and seed variety trials, along with over sea’s work in New Zealand’s cropping and dairy industry. She is currently the Field Research Associate with NutriAg Ltd. for Atlantic Canada.

Lindsay graduated from the NSAC in 2011 with B.Sc(Agr) in Agriculture Business. She comes from a farming background, having grown up on a small mixed farm in Tyne Valley which included dairy and seed potato production. Lindsay currently serves on the PEI Institute of Agrologists’ Council as the Agrologist In Training representative.

Member Profile

Melanie Bos, AIT

Agri-Environmental Advisor, PEI Department of Agriculture & Fisheries

Melanie works as an Agri-Environmental Advisor with the provincial Department of Agriculture. Her role includes administering the Alternative Land Use Services Program (ALUS). Melanie is also the advisor for the Storage and Energy Sub-Programs under the Canada-PEI Agricultural Stewardship Funding Program. Melanie has been enjoying working with Island producers and farmers, and is looking forward to advancing her career in the agricultural industry.

Melanie is a graduate from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture, where she completed a B.Sc. with a major in Environmental Sciences. Melanie grew up near Salisbury, New Brunswick, on a hog farm that has since converted to a dairy operation.

Marleen Clark, P.Ag.

Plant Disease Diagnostician, PEI Department of Agriculture & Land

Marleen grew up in the eastern part of Prince Edward Island in potato country and her parents had a mixed farming operation.  She started her Agriculture career with the PEI Soil and Crop Association following with the Provincial Extension Plant Pathologist position with the PEI Department of Agriculture. This position allowed her to work closely with potato farmers with emphasis on potato diseases, project/research work in potato scab, early dying and other disease issues. Demand for plant disease diagnostics became eminent and more emphasis was placed on the plant disease diagnostic service. In this capacity, she continues to have the opportunity to cultivate the PEI Plant Disease Diagnostic Service.

Marleen also had an opportunity to work with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in both plant pathology and soil science.  Some collaborative research projects completed include potato late blight pathogenicity ratings/trials, Fusarium dry rot and seed health surveys, seed treatment field trials, soil extraction tests and completion of soil analyses for a regional Manure Management Experiment.

Marleen continues to have memberships in the Canadian and American Phytopathology Societies and our local PEI Institute of Agrologists.  She has worked in the capacity of Chair for our Program Committee and a Council member. She currently serves as a first-year Council member with Agrologists Agronomes Canada (AAC)and continues to be on our local AIT committee.

On a personal note, Marleen loves music and sings in two local choirs and is presently learning to play the guitar.  She loves the outdoors and regularly likes to walk, bike, swim and go boating.

Marleen completed a Plant Science Technology Diploma at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro and continued at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine for her Bachelor of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science. Most recently she completed a Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Internship with Mount Allison University.

Member Profile

Michelle Dyment, P.Ag.

Technical Product Specialist, NutriAg Ltd.

Michelle grew up on a farm just outside of Kensington where they grew potatoes up until 2007.  At this time they switched their focus mainly to IP soybeans.  Her involvement on the farm growing up allowed her to development her interest in agriculture. Michelle graduated from NSAC in 2012 with her B.Sc(Agr) where she majored in Plant Science and minored in Pest Management.   She also is a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA). 

Currently she is living in O’Leary and is employed by NutriAg Ltd, which is a liquid fertilizer company where she started as the Field Research Associate five years ago.  She is now the Technical Product Specialist for the company where she spends a lot of her time walking fields in order to make agronomic and nutrient recommendations to help farmers to get the highest yielding crops possible.  Prior to her employment at NutriAg Ltd she did field research for a potato and soybean company.   

Member Profile

Umesh C. Gupta, Ph.D, P.Ag.

Emeritus Research Scientist

After 2 years Post-Doctoral Research at the Soil Research Institute, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Ottawa, Umesh was appointed Research Scientist at AAFC, Charlottetown to conduct research in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, with special reference to micronutrients.

Over six decades, Umesh edited and wrote 3 books, over 150 research articles and made presentations in countries on all continents. He is past President of PEI Institute of Agrologists, Canadian Society of Soil Science and past Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Journal of Soil Science. Umesh was selected to participate in the NRC’s Canada’s Scientists Exchange Program with several countries. As a visiting professor, Umesh taught courses in Brazil, PRC of China and Chile. He completed his Ph.D. in Soil Biochemistry from Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Currently Umesh writes articles related to human health and nutrition. On occasions he speaks on scientific and general subjects, e.g., Global Water Scarcity and the Role of Phytochemicals in Human Nutrition.

Member Profile

Steve Howatt, P.Ag.

Owner, Atlantic AgriTech

Steve Howatt is the owner of Atlantic AgriTech Inc., a PEI-based company providing contract agricultural and environmental research services throughout the Maritime Provinces.  Atlantic AgriTech primarily conducts crop research trials for clients from the agri-chemical, fertilizer and seed industries.  Typical projects include field trials in nutrient management, pest management, variety evaluation and soil science and environmental effects of agriculture.  Through these projects, Steve has developed expertise in the areas of crop and nutrient management, pesticides and the environment. 

Steve is married with 3 grown daughters, and lives in New Glasgow, PEI.  Steve’s hobbies include fishing and other outdoor activities, and he volunteers with the PEI Ground Search and Rescue, Canadian Ski Patrol and the PEI 4-H Program.  Steve obtained his B.Sc in Agriculture, specializing in Plant Protection, from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (now DAL-AC), followed by an M.Sc. in Agriculture from Macdonald College of McGill University. Steve has been a Professional Agrologist with the PEI Institute of Agrologists since 1992, and has taken on several Council and Committee roles over the years, including a term as President in 1998-99.

Chris Jordan, P.Ag

Policy Advisor, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Chris recently joined the team at Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s Science and Technology Branch as Policy Advisor for the Charlottetown and Fredericton Research and Development Centres. In his new role, Chris focuses on the environmental aspects of the agriculture sector.

Prior to joining AAFC, Chris worked in both the private and public sectors. He worked for many years at the PEI Department of Agriculture as the Berry Crop Development Officer and Provincial Apiarist. In that role, Chris provided industry development and extension expertise to fruit crop and honey bee sectors. Working with industry associations, federal/provincial government agencies and academia was a significant part of that position. Major issues tackled during his time with the Department included the identification, mapping and development of a management strategy for Strawberry Virus Complex as well as Spotted Wing Drosophila in PEI, the development of a revised importation policy and strategy for honey bees into PEI from Small Hive Beetle-positive regions, and the introduction of the Atlantic Technology Transfer Team for Apiculture (ATTTA) based at Perennia Agriculture Inc. in Truro, NS. Prior to making the transition to AAFC, he served as Policy Coordinator with the PEI Department of Finance, Treasury Board Secretariat. He has served on several committees at both the national and provincial levels.

Chris holds a BSc (Agr) in Plant Science and an MSc in Agriculture from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College/Dal AC.

Member Profile

Evan MacDonald, AIT

Soil and Water Conservation Specialist, PEI Department of Agriculture & Fisheries

Evan works as a Soil and Water Conservation Specialist with the provincial Department of Agriculture. His role includes working with farmers in limiting soil erosion on their fields through the development of soil conservation plans. In addition to soil conservation work, he is involved in various projects involving Precision Agriculture and the use of technology/data to improve decisions on the farm. He also manages the Department’s weather network of 11 stations across the Island.

Evan graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from Saint Mary’s University in 2010, a diploma in Advanced Geographic Sciences (GIS) from the Center of Geographic Sciences in 2011, and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science from UPEI in 2018 where his thesis project focused on the use of aerial imagery captured by UAVs in agriculture (potatoes).

Member Profile

John MacQuarrie, P.Ag.

Director of Environmental Sustainability, Cavendish Farms

John began his agricultural career with the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture. He has occupied several supervisory positions with the Department, mostly relating to potato disease control and production. In 2001, he was appointed the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Following this, he held the position of Deputy Minister for Environment and Energy and Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In August of 2017, John accepted a position with Cavendish Farms as Director of Environmental Sustainability.  Throughout his varied career, John has always maintained an interest in agri-environmental issues and feels his most recent position will give him the opportunity to build on the experience he gained working in government.

John completed both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (Agriculture) degrees at Macdonald Campus of McGill University, focusing on crop science.

Morgan McNeil, M.Sc., P.Ag.

Soil Health Specialist, PEI Department of Agriculture

Morgan grew up in a small community called Hantsport in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. She was actively involved in the 4-H program for 12 years, where she developed a passion for vegetable production and public speaking. She attended the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus from 2012-2016 to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in Plant Science and minor in Food Science and Technology. She then continued onto do her Masters in Agricultural Science at the same university from 2016-2019 with a project on soil health in organic grain cropping systems to assess green manure residues and the interactions between tillage, weed and microbial communities. She has also held research and teaching assistanceship positions. Morgan traveled to England in 2016 on a global youth exchange program, and Ethiopia in 2017 on an international workshop to learn about agricultural practices in those countries. She has traveled to most provinces across Canada to attend various academic conferences.

Morgan worked at the PEI Potato Board from 2019-2022 based out of Charlottetown, PEI as a Junior Agronomist working on research trials with farmers to improve soil health and marketable yields of potatoes. She is currently working as a Soil Health Specialist with the Department of Agriculture. She enjoys photography, painting, soccer, swimming and socializing with friends in her spare time.

Gwen Corrigan Vessey, P.Ag.

Professional Agrologist

Gwen is a recently retired Soil Conservation Specialist. During her 37 years with the provincial Department of Agriculture, Gwen had the privilege to work on many innovative land management projects and programs including on-farm soil conservation structures, artificial wetlands, residue management for potato production and the Alternative Land Use Services Program (ALUS).

In 2007, Gwen was honored to receive the Outstanding Agrologist of the Year Award from the PEI Institute of Agrologists. In 2017, she was further honoured to receive the PEI Potato Board Industry Recognition Award. Gwen remains in touch with the agriculture industry by doing consulting work and currently serves on the PEIIA Council. At home, Gwen and her husband keep busy with an ever-growing list of DIY projects. Gwen holds a diploma in Resource Planning from Holland College and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo, focusing on earth science. Gwen is also a Certified Crop Advisor, accredited in 2002.

Steve Watts, P.Ag

Owner, Genesis Crop Systems Inc

Steve grew up around the potato industry and aside from two years working in the Oil Industry in the west and several attending college in Nova Scotia, where he received a Diploma in International Potato Production Technology and a BSc  Agr in Plant Science, never really left.

Since graduating in 1988, Steve worked as Potato Variety Technician and Acting Potato Specialist with the PEI Department of Agriculture, Farm Manager with Eric C Robinson Inc in Albany, PE and Technical Sales Representative with Engage Agro, based in Guelph ON.

Steve founded Genesis Crop Systems Inc and started doing business in 2012. The companies’ main area of expertise is in providing PEI potato producers with current scientific agronomic advice with the intention of improving their economic, environmental and social position. GCS business has evolved over the years and Steve is also one of the few private independent crop researchers here in PEI where he conducts field research projects for numerous commercial and not for profit clients.

Steve has been fortunate to let the potato crop lead him to many parts of the world including the majority of Canadian and US production areas, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Jordan, Syria, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Steve served on PEIIA Council for four years and has held roles including representative on Agrologists Canada National Board and chair of the Program Committee.