President’s Award2024-04-17T13:49:10-06:00

President’s Award

Each year Society members are chosen by the President to receive the “President’s Award”.

The President’s Award was originally proposed by then President Peter Arabchuk when he presented awards to Bill Richards and Martin Osis for contributions to the Alberta Mycological Society.

In 2008 the Board redefined the President’s Award and proposed two criteria:

  1. The award should go to a non-Board member for extraordinary contributions and effort on behalf of the Society, and
  2. It was purely the President’s prerogative to make the choice.

Every once in a while a very special person shows up in an organization.  Someone who puts their hand up without having their hand out.

We have that special person here today.  His name is Jeff Nash.  In spring of 2023 jeff volunteered to some videography for our Society and eventually settled on tracking the development and staging of our mushroom Exposition affectionately called the “Greatest Show From Earth.”  

I was blown away with the service he provided.  He was professional in every sense.  The questions he asked; the equipment he brought; his turn around time and the spectacular product!

We are pleased to have Jeff here today to screen his film – our film – our video story of how Expo comes together.  I doubt that this is any secret, he is also here today to receive the President’s Award.  

Jeff continued to contribute to our Society; he brought his own sound system!

Jeff please come up to share your video with us.  

Thank you – Jeff and Alison and of course thank your children – a Saturday and Sunday spent with the AMS does not come for free.  They share in your honour today.  Alison and Jeff – Thank you. 


The President’s Award is awarded to someone who is not on the Board but someone who has made a significant contribution to the Alberta Mycological Society over the course of the year.

Remember when you got your first computer back in 1989? Or in 1994? Or even recently when you got your new smart phone? Well, now when your phone says: “plug me in, you’re getting an update tonight” you know what to do. But back in 1994 when your PC told you something you likely ignored it. Update, upgrade, virus? Maybe – you weren’t doing anything. As it turns
out we got smarter and we learned that an update was necessary; an upgrade could cost you money and when a virus was trying to con you.

So where am I going with this? Well in 2019 we launched a new website. A website is essentially a piece of software that must be updated, could be upgraded and might be corrupted.

For three full years we got the notice “do you want to update now?” NO NOT NOW, we said to no one in particular. Guess what happened in the summer of 2022 when we set up the Event for the 2022 Great Alberta Mushroom Foray. It didn’t work. Nothing! Nada! And our hosting company wasn’t sympathetic. You neglected your website – you fix it.

Magically, the spouse of someone on our Board stepped up – Timo Hohn. First he did all the neglected updates; then he routed the change password emails to us instead of to PDERAS; then he streamlined the workflow of paying at check out to reduce confusion; and finally he updated the sender email addresses on woo commerce so we could received event orders. But that’s not all, he and Erica tested, retested, refunded and tested again until he was satisfied the event registration process was working and working smoothly.

Thank you so much Timo!

The President’s Award was originally proposed by then President Peter Arabchuk when he presented awards to Bill Richards and Martin Osis for contributions to the Alberta Mycological Society, likely sometime about 2006 or so.  Since then both Martin and Bill have also been awarded with Honorary Life Memberships.

In 2008, the Board redefined the President’s Award and proposed two criteria:

  1. The award should go to a non-Board member for extraordinary contributions and effort on behalf of the Society, and
  2. It was purely the President’s prerogative to make the choice.

This year the AMS President’s Award goes to Janet Melnychuk.  Janet doesn’t really have an interest in mycology; but she is a highly capable bookkeeper.  I met Janet with Rosemarie in April 2018.  Rosemarie had stepped down as President but she was determined to get the AMS assistance with tracking our finances.  The AMS had no Treasurer and had no bookkeeper.  (and no President, but that’s a different story.) At that personal meeting Janet volunteered to sort out our finances, enter invoices into QuickBooks, balance the cheque book monthly, and prepare year-end financial statements.  Whew!  And she has done so, ever since 2018.  With no compensation and with little to no recognition.  To recognize her now for all her work (that most would find mindboggling), I will be delivering a coffee table book:  Truffles:  Earth’s Black Diamonds, and an honorarium to her in the near future.

Congratulations Janet and thank you for your contributions to the AMS.  It is fitting that you are not present.  But you are here: if you check item 10 on our agenda today – you have kept us in the good books!

Customarily at the President’s Dinner held annually and typically after the Annual General Meeting, the president has the prerogative to recognize a member of the Alberta Mycological Society who is not on the Board but who has made a significant contribution to the Society.  This year, like last, there is no President’s Dinner, but there is still much appreciation for those who serve the Alberta Mycological Society.

This year I am going to recognize a disparate group of people who support communication in our society.  Some of these people work together and some work individually but collectively, they communicate to the larger public what they know, and what we all love.  Fungi.  Michael SchulzCandice Cullum and Catherine Jevic for their constant moderation of our Facebook page; shepherding 3601 members.  Catherine Jevic for spearheading three issues of the Spore Print every year since 2019 and one issue in 2018.  Without Catherine there were no Spore Print issues in 2017.

Christine Costello, Erica To, Lisa Oishi and Catherine Jevic for sending MailChimp emails, for answering at the least 2 to 3 per week ContactUs inquiries, for updating the website, for creating the events, updating photos, for updating and maintaining Foray procedures and forms, and for keeping us current.

And finally there is one more person who has communication with you, both on the Facebook Mycological Group and on our website, and deserves mention.  Ken Dies.  Ken has made it his personal goal to share 100 vignettes and photos of identified fungi before morel season.  His photos are here Images – Alberta Mycological Society (smugmug.com) and his vignettes and photos are here  Facebook

A fine and deserved appreciation goes to Michael, Candice, Catherine, Christine, Erica, Lisa, and Ken.  The President, the Board and the Society thanks you for all your excellent work for the Alberta Mycological Society.

The AMS recognizes Candice Cullum as the President’s Award Recipient for 2020. If this year had not been constrained by the pandemic, we would have celebrated Candice’s contributions in person and appreciated her multi-coloured hair, her dazzling smile and her mile long talons at the President’s Dinner. Instead, all we have to do is to read Candice’s posts on our Facebook page to see the depth and breadth of her mycological knowledge, and her engagement with our members. She truly is a fun-gal, as she presents herself in such a positive helpful manner. Candice has led many of our forays – all across the middle of the province. More than that, she encouraged both the north and the south to have safe, socially-distanced forays to continue sharing knowledge with each other despite the pandemic. Candice represents the outward spirit of Alberta Mycological Society.

The 2019 President’s Award goes to Barb Shworak. Barb has excellent computer, web, and data processing skills, which she generously has shared and continues to share with the AMS. She has served as the data processor for GAMF, taking the spreadsheet developed by her and others and keeping them current. She has served on the AMS board as the webmaster but continued to serve the AMS by advising current board members on web-related issues, by conducting forays in the Calgary region, and by volunteering at our mushroom EXPO as mentioned with GAMF. Anytime Barb volunteers for anything the AMS does, she goes the extra mile. She has a keen sense of what needs to be done and then executes it. She knows and follows proper foray etiquette, foray preparation and foray reporting, and assists and guides others in ensuring these rules are followed. Barb is passionate about mushrooms, and she reads, follows and writes about the latest news on all things fungi. If you are lucky enough to go foraging with Barb, you will find that she readily shares her wealth of knowledge and passion with all those interested.

Candice marked Rosemarie’s last year as President and her contribution to the club by giving her a lovely quilt. Rose has been a member of the club for nine years. Six of those years she was president of the club when no one else would step up. For those that are not aware Rose is the person responsible for our lovely dinners as it is up to her to plan them. This is no small feat when you have to get a venue, menu, seating assignments, make note of allergies, …

She is the person who ensures things get done by setting up agendas and meetings. She keeps us moving forward and will no doubt continue to do so.

Prior to being the president she was the membership coordinator. This is also a non trivial job keeping track of all the members and mailouts as this was done (at the time)by snail-mail. We know we will miss her but lucky for us she is still on the board as past president. Thanks for all your years of service Rose.

With this being her last year as President, Rosemarie opted to invite Ryan and Kartini Armishaw to the President’s Dinner in lieu of the traditional picture or plaque. Ryan spent inordinate amounts of time in prior years creating our current website and even now continues to assist us in maintaining it. His continual support (along with the tireless hours Barb Shworak has put in) have been critical in keeping the AMS website up and running! (Sorry Ryan, as you did not get a plaque I did not get a picture, Barb). Ryan and Kartini Armishaw both enjoyed the dinner immensely.

The President’s Award is usually presented at the President’s Dinner early in the year. As this year’s recipient Mike Schultz did not attend the Dinner, he was given his award during the 2018 dinner.  Mike is the man behind the microscope at our Great Alberta Forays.  In 2017 he held a class in microscopy that the attendees are still talking about today.  Mike has been doing a survey of mushrooms from across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba which he kindly gave us a talk on at the 2018 Annual General Meeting.  If you attend a Great Alberta Foray you will always see Mike there behind the microscope.  Please be sure to stop by his table to say “Hi“ and thank him for the great work he does for the club.

Ken Dies has been the regional coordinator for the Peace River region for years.  I am sure all the people in his region appreciate the effort he has put in to scheduling forays.  What most people do not realize about Ken is the amount of time he spends correcting and updating names in our mushroom database.  In preparation for a government survey Ken had to go though all our names in the database going back at least ten years.  This was not a trivial amount of data.  Ken is a frequent contributor to our newsletter and forum and we all enjoy the articles he writes.  His work with mushrooms has earned him the much coveted Red Vest.  We are sorry it took so long to recognize him on the website, thanks for all your help Ken!

The President’s Award is usually presented at the President’s Dinner early in the year. As this year’s recipients Bill and Janice Moore did not attend the Dinner, they were given their well-deserved award during the Summer Solstice pot-luck dinner at Moose Hill Hall in June. (Look for the antlers in above photo.) Bill and Janice are the couple who always, always step up to offer and will do any-thing asked of them to help things move along smoothly. They arrive early, and leave after all the work is done. But most importantly, they take full advantage of their AMS membership — if you, too, attend many AMS throughout the year, you will always see Bill and Janice there!

The 2014 President’s Award went to Rick Watts.  Rick, while not a member of the board, has tirelessly thrown himself into each event in any way that he can, especially in the area of photography, where he has gone above and beyond to create a photo library. This will be critical in completing our fungal database.  Ryan  wins our first ever outstanding service award.  He has done a truly magnificent job developing the AMS website.  Due to his efforts we can look up events, sign up for activities, view the mushroom database and browse our newsletters.

The 2013 President’s Award went to Hans and Inge Weissenborn. We were all very pleased, and not a bit surprised, to see Hans and Inge Weissenborn receive this award. This couple has tirelessly participated in many years of forays, meetings, EXPOS, and pretty well every event the AMS has held over the years, acting as enthusiastic ambassadors for the AMS. Rosemarie presented the Weissenborns with a framed photo that came from our 2012 Photo Contest. Congratulations Hans and Inge!

The 2012 President’s Award went to Chad and Thea Moss. Chad had volunteered to be our Culinary Chair and performed stellar duties serving in that role with Thea by his side. At every foray Chad attended, the stove and pans came out and members had an opportunity to taste some of the mushrooms that were found. Special Kudos for organizing and preparing the gourmet meal at our annual Solstice celebration at Moose Hill Hall. At Bow Valley Parks Day, Chad & Thea prepared tasting samples of the provincial mushroom where it was generally decided that the “Red Top” was the tastiest of all the provincial emblems. This was followed by an incredible selection of mushroom treats serve in our “Wild Mushroom Café” at the annual Expo at the Garden. And finally Chad with assistants presented a first class presentation on getting the most of the mushroom flavours at the “Great Alberta Mushroom Foray” in Hinton.

In 2011, Geri Kolacz served as our Newsletter Editor and layout artist since 2004. In spite of being too busy to attend most club functions she continued to work at producing our newsletter. Thanks to Geri for making our newsletter one of the best in North America. Geri received a framed print of the inky caps, photographed by Thea Moss

In 2010, again, after serving many years on the Board as Membership Coordinator, Alan Fleming continued to work on behalf of the Society as Webmaster, but moreso the President’s Award went to him for all the expertise he lent to the Alberta Mushroom Database project. Alan worked on writing much of the code as well as inputting and troubleshooting the system.

In 2009, the Award went to Pieter van der Schoot. Pieter had taken a year off from Board duties but continued to lead groups on walks, host forays on his property, supply the majority of the moss and mushrooms for the Expo and promoted the Society through all his woodlot and forestry contacts. As many of us know, anyone who goes on a foray with Pieter had better be in good shape!

In 2008 President Martin Osis awarded George and Anne Litvin a framed print of the Photo Contest winner. George and Anne have been long time members who participated and volunteered their time attending most events and making a contribution at each one of them. From the Annual Exposition through the “Great Alberta Mushroom Foray” George and Anne are always there lending a helping hand.

In 2007 Dr. Markus Thormann awarded an engraved glass statue to Judy Lasinski and Michael Burnett for their contributions. Judy and Michael had worked diligently for several years organizing the first mushroom meals and tastings at the “City of Champignons” Mushroom Exposition at the Devonian Botanic Garden, turning it into one of our first fund raising events. Not only did they contribute time and effort but many, many mushrooms at no cost to the Society. Michael’s “mushroom wontons” are still fondly remembered.

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