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Arthur Cameron and Delaney Ross Burtnack

Alumni celebrated for contributions to community with Certificate of Merit

May 30, 2024 — 

Two alumni of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences were honoured on May 29 for their outstanding professional and personal contributions to Manitoba’s agricultural community.

The Certificate of Merit is presented each year in recognition of leadership with agricultural organizations and service to the community at large. The 2024 recipients are Arthur Cameron, renowned Roland pumpkin grower, and Delaney Ross Burtnack, executive director of Manitoba Canola Growers Association.

Arthur Cameron was raised on a family farm just outside Roland, MB. In 1970, Arthur graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in Agricultural Economics. Following graduation, he worked with Grain Insurance & Guarantee in Winnipeg from 1972 to 1996 until he returned to the family grain farm in Roland.

Martin Scanlon, Arthur Cameron, Milan Lukes

L to R: Dean Martin Scanlon, Certificate of Merit recipient Arthur Cameron and nominator Milan Lukes

Arthur believes strongly in community service and has volunteered his time with various groups, including the Roland Curling Club and Rink Board. He served for seven years on the Carman Area Foundation, of which the R.M. of Roland is a member. He has often been called upon for grant writing and thanks to his time commitment, community infrastructure such as the Roland Walking Path and Roland Electronic Reader Board projects were successfully achieved.

Perhaps his most significant leadership is evidenced through his community’s annual agricultural fair.  As background, in 1976, Roland resident Edgar Van Wyck set the world record for growing the heaviest pumpkin, weighing around 400 pounds. In subsequent years, giant pumpkins continued to be grown which brought the small community a high level of fame. In 1991, the annual Roland fair for the heaviest pumpkin (now termed the “Roland Pumpkin Fair”) began, and in 1996 Arthur began volunteering with the event.

Since then, Arthur has been instrumental in the organization and advertising of the Roland Pumpkin Fair, and without his efforts, the fair would undoubtedly be a fraction of what it is today. For 18 years, Arthur served as Chair of the Roland Pumpkin Fair and President of the Roland Agricultural Society. Under his leadership, the Roland Pumpkin Fair has grown immensely over the years; bringing in thousands of attendees and making North American headlines. In addition to the great pumpkin weigh-off, the fair is filled with a wide variety of organized events – ranging from a pancake breakfast, craft sales, agricultural and educational displays, entertainment and children’s activities, and a full course harvest supper.

The Roland Pumpkin Fair is now a staple event each October in Roland, drawing massive crowds from across Manitoba and even the United States. Arthur’s conversations and advocacy with numerous agribusinesses have amounted in substantial sponsors to make this event possible. His tireless efforts have amounted to countless smiles, memories, and amazement to all those who attend the annual Roland Pumpkin Fair.

In 2006, Arthur and other growers established the Manitoba Giant Growers Association (MGGA), a non-profit association. Arthur has since served as Chairman of the MGGA for many years and currently serves in this capacity. His leadership with the MGGA has promoted the hobby of giant pumpkin growing all across this province, and he spends time mentoring new growers and providing his expertise on the subject. Arthur has been vital in organizing annual seminars and patch tours across the province for over a decade to promote awareness and educate others on the hobby.

In 2023, Arthur set his personal best for his heaviest pumpkin weighing 1,178.0 pounds. He has donated many of his giant pumpkins each year to “A Pumpkin Promise”, a fundraiser for CancerCare that gathers attention through carving these giant pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns. 

Today, Arthur Cameron resides on the family century farm in Roland, where he continues to grow giant pumpkins and watermelons. In fact, he holds the Manitoba record for watermelons at 167 pounds. He also enjoys golf and curling.

Delaney Ross Burtnack was born and raised in Winnipeg, spending many summers and holidays at the family farm near Swan River in the Parkland Region of Manitoba. Her lifelong love of agriculture began on the Cotton Century Farm through her close relationship with her grandparents John and Margaret Cotton.

Martin Scanlon, Delaney Ross Burtnack, Don Flaten

L to R: Dean Martin Scanlon, Certificate of Merit recipient Delaney Ross Burtnack and nominator Don Flaten

Delaney graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Crop Protection Major) from the University of Manitoba in 1998 and completed her M.Sc. in Plant Science in 2001. After graduation, Delaney began cultivating her reputation as an excellent communicator, joining Issues Ink publishing company as advising agronomist in 2000. She became managing editor for Lester Communications, another publishing group in Winnipeg in 2003. Delaney then joined Cargill in 2005 at their Canadian head office in Winnipeg as communications coordinator.

Delaney’s role as a nationally-respected communicator and leader in Canada’s agricultural industry was firmly established when she joined the Canadian Association of Agricultural Retailers (CAAR), first in 2007 as communications and membership manager and then as their President and CEO from 2011-2017. She led the development of a formal business strategy and restructured the organization, engaging the CAAR Board in strategic planning and development of an updated mission and vision. With the joint effort of a great CAAR team, she led improved the profitability of CAAR’s annual conference and a stronger program format, developed new agronomy and safety training resources, and re-engaged the association in advocacy issues at a national and regional level.

In 2017, Delaney became Executive Director with the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA), where she was fortunate to step into leadership of an exceptional team. By updating and refining management systems, policies and procedures, she continued to collaboratively build the team into the strong and innovative group that drives MCGA’s successful programming today. Working closely with the board, she established a new Revenue Reserve in 2021 that allowed strategic investment in research infrastructure at the University of Manitoba and Assiniboine Community College, while planning ahead to offset the risk of low-income years. Supported by Delaney’s leadership, the MCGA team built stronger collaborative relationships provincially and nationally, improved cost-sharing, expanded the Research pillar with dedicated staff and new research programs, expanded MCGA’s innovative Market Development pillar into a collaborative national program, grew outreach to farmers with more valuable and relevant programming, and established MCGA as a strong and informed voice for Manitoba canola farmers on a wide range of issues.

Delaney has also continued her family’s commitment to volunteering, serving in a variety of voluntary leadership roles in external agricultural organizations including Northern Agriculture Development Corporation; PMRA Maximum Residue Limit Steering Committee; Fertilizer Canada’s Fertilizer Safety and Security Council; Fertilizer Canada’s Safety, Training, and TDG Subcommittee; Prairie Certified Crop Advisor Board; and Canadian Agri-Marketing Association for Manitoba.

Her service also extends to her local community, with volunteer roles with Graffiti Art Gallery – Mural Fest Event, and coaching and team support for Rally Cap Baseball, and Interlake Minor Baseball 9U and 11U.

Delaney is truly honoured to add this Certificate of Merit to her Cotton family’s distinguished history supporting agriculture and community that continues through her extended family today. The Manitoba story started many years ago with her great, great grandfather Almon James Cotton – an agricultural pioneer who served on the Board of Governors of the University of Manitoba from 1917 to 1934, was inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame, and later came to be known as “The Wheat King”. Delaney’s grandfather John Cotton also contributed honours like two-time World Flax Champion and recipient of many awards for outstanding volunteerism, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Delaney hopes to continue contributing to the industry and the Parkland region following her family’s move in 2024 back to her husband’s hometown and nearer the Cotton family farm.


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