Edward A. (Ted) Poyser was born in 1927 on a farm near Austin, Manitoba. “The farm” played a significant role in shaping Ted’s early life and his attitude towards and love for agriculture.
Ted attended Emmaline Grade School and Austin High School, and graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (1948) and a Masters of Science in Soil Science (1950). At university, Ted came under the influence of Professor J.H. Ellis, who imprinted in his mind the variability, vulnerability and capacity of Manitoba soils and the difficulties faced by farm families farming on soils not suited to commercial agriculture.
Ted’s career reflected his love of the land. Starting in 1948, he worked with the Manitoba Soil Survey where he published some of the first soil survey reports. From 1957 to 1961 he was a Soils Specialist with the Manitoba Department of Agriculture, where he was instrumental in establishing the Whitemud Watershed Conservation District. He also helped develop productivity ratings for land that became the basis for the Manitoba Crop Insurance Program.
In the early 1960’s Ted was appointed the provincial co-ordinator for all ARDA (Agriculture and Rural Development Act) programs. This involved working with provincial and federal governments, as well as universities. He planned and managed multi-discipline projects that led to comprehensive development programs for the Interlake region; the major drainage systems across southern Manitoba; and the development of provincial parks and wildlife management areas.
Ted was named ARDA-FRED (Fund for Rural Economic Development) Co-ordinator in 1967 when the Interlake FRED Agreement was signed. Here he was responsible for shifting the federal perception of rural development away from a fixation solely on agriculture.
After retirement in 1981 Ted continued his work by promoting a new soil conservation initiative. He called it “Prairie CARE” and while governments didn’t buy into the concept, Ducks Unlimited did and launched “Prairie CARE” in four provinces, two states and Australia.
Ted served as Chairman of the Manitoba Heritage Corporation (1989-2001), and under his guidance partnerships involving farmers, farm groups, Conservation Districts, Ducks Unlimited, the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and PFRA flourished. These focused on conservation of fish and wildlife habitat while conserving soil and water for agriculture.
Many of the people Ted mentored throughout his long career moved on to senior, decision making roles. Everyone who has interacted with him knows that “It all starts with the soil.”
Ted lives in Winnipeg with his wife Alice, a retired journalist. They have two children, John and Liz and three grandchildren.