24 September 2008

Fun with plants…

Today is my last official day in Saskatoon and while I’m anxious to get home and see hubby, I think I might actually miss the town itself. I can easily understand why my mother fell in love with this place so many years ago. Right now all the fall colours are in their full glory and it’s beautiful along the South Saskatchewan River. Not sure what it is about the place, but there is something that resonates in me…who’da thunk it?

While the conference may have been a bit heavy and hard to understand, I am walking away from this AGM feeling pretty good. My hard work, combined with the efforts of the local organizing committee, made the event run seamlessly. Last night’s banquet was actually quite entertaining and I was fortunate to sit with the only other communications person at the dinner. We sat by our lonesome at the front of the Banquet Hall, next to the VP’s table, because I had to take some photos during speeches. It felt odd being just the two of us (almost like a date), but most people aren’t eager to sit front and centre next to the big wigs…it is also painfully obvious that most researchers don’t really give a damn about people in my position. It’s not that they are mean per say; they just don’t know how to relate to me and I suppose vice versa as well. At any rate, I was happy to have a fellow lowly communications person to chat with and we had a great time regardless. Following dinner, there were two homegrown bands that entertained us. A big hats off to the local research institute here in Saskatoon; they truly are welcoming and loads of fun…quite the exception to the rule. They seem to breed cool scientists down here. Perhaps I’m due for a transfer?!

Speaking of cool, today I finally got to live out my own geeky science fantasy. After the conference ended at noon, tours of the local transgenic greenhouse and research facility were offered to people who were still staying in town for one more night. If you’re a regular reader you will already know that I’m a plant lover and a hopeful green thumb. I had to stop myself from squealing like a little girl when I entered a huge greenhouse filled with big, beautiful, canola plants. I felt like a kid in a candy shop and was just itching to get my hands in some dirt and start planting. The research that is being conducted at this facility is absolutely fascinating and it was interesting to see how Canadian researchers are trying to 'naturally' maximize a plant’s healthy genetic traits in order to create better crops with stronger yield. It’s promising research that may provide a crucial answer to the growing global need for biorenewable oils for food, fuel and variety of other industrial and health applications. This area of research interests me greatly and I wish that this particular institute could be based in Ottawa…fascinating stuff!

Now that the conference is over, I am looking forward to the prospect of relaxing tonight and being able to dictate my own schedule. While I originally planned to attend Waiting for Godot tonight at the local theatre, I'm not sure that I'm still up to going out and sitting by myself in a theatre. Maybe I'll just use this time to wander around town a bit more...I'm pretty beat.

So there you have it - my AGM recap. I survived and came out smiling in the end. I got to see a pretty new town, cross off one of the few remaining unvisited Canadian provinces from my list and I finally got out to visit one of our more interesting research institutes. I have already been invited back to visit the test Canola fields in the summer and I can honestly say that's it's an offer I will take up whole-heartedly.

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