OAC Team Tops at 2011 Weed Olympics

August 22, 2011 - News Release

The title “Best Student Weed Scientists in North America” has been claimed by a team of University of Guelph students. They won the gold medal at the 2011 Weed Olympics held earlier this summer in Knoxville, Tenn., beating out 17 other schools.

The Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) students had to identify more than 100 weed species, calibrate a hand-boom sprayer, solve a grower problem and distinguish a particular herbicide from a group of 30.

“It may be daunting at first, but no other experience can be as beneficial and rewarding as the Weed Olympics,” said team member Michael Vanhie, a 2011 B.Sc.(Agr.) graduate who is starting a master’s program in plant agriculture this fall. “It was a fantastic learning opportunity, also providing the chance to network with many representatives in the crop protection industry.”

Vanhie was one of four members of the gold-medal winning team, which also included Jessica Gal, Thomas Judd and Adam Parker. In total, 23 OAC undergraduate and graduate students competed in the event, which attracted more than 130 students from North America.

Guelph was the only Canadian school to participate, although OAC students have competed in the Northeastern Weed Science Society’s collegiate competition since 1983, winning that regional event 17 times.

“At no time in the history of the Weed Science Society have students from all regions competed in an international contest against one another,” said plant agriculture professor Clarence Swanton, who coached the 2011 team.

OAC dean Rob Gordon added: “We are extremely proud of all of our students, especially because they took time out of their busy summer schedules to attend this international competition. The success at the 2011 Weed Olympics highlights the exceptional quality of OAC students and is an example of how we continue to be a world-class institution in the agricultural sciences.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, shiona@uoguelph.ca.

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