AOS - Distinguished Affiliated Societies Service Award (DASSA) -------

Nomination Form To: Task Force Chair, DASSA, Affiliated Societies Liaison Committee

From: Theresa (Terry) Kennedy

Subject: Nomination for AOS DASSA Award

It is with great pleasure (pride?) that I, Theresa Kennedy, am nominating the (Southern Ontario Orchid Society for consideration for the AOS Distinguished Affiliated Societies Service Award (DASSA).

As a life-time member of this Society I have seen this society continually fulfill all of the criteria for this award as outlined on the AOS website.

The Southern Ontario Orchid Society began much like the AOS. In 1965 a group of friends met to share their friendship and their love of those rare, exotic plants called orchids. Soon word got out and the group outgrew the meeting spaces in their homes. They moved to the Civic Garden Center in Edwards Garden. To this day, they have continued to meet monthly at this facility, which has since evolved into the Toronto Botanic Garden. Membership continued to grow. At its peak there were over 400 members from all across Ontario. Present membership hovers around 200. Under the leadership of SOOS interest in orchids thrived and over the years many local orchid societies sprang up throughout southern Ontario. Then as now each monthly meeting consists of various entertaining and educational topics presented by speakers bringing their expertise from all over the world.

Since 1998, each summer SOOS hosts a Summer Orchid Fest to which neighboring orchid society members are invited to share their friendship and enthusiasm and to listen to outstanding speakers that give attendees the opportunity to purchase plants from vendors to whom they do not usually have access.

Since 1979, SOOS has held an annual AOS affiliated Orchid Show, first as a Mother’s Day event and more recently as a Valentine event. It is one of the biggest and best attended shows in Canada to this day. The exhibits are so outstanding that there are often more than one SC and/or GC besides the Show Trophy.

SOOS, as an AOS affiliated Society, has supported the AOS both financially and in contributing to the Members Meeting live auction for many, many years. In view of promoting the AOS, SOOS has invited a number of AOS presidents to address the Society.

In the 80’s and 90’s SOOS participated in numerous AOS Members Meetings as well as MAOC ‘s and EOS’s showcasing the orchid growing talents of its members.

In 1998, SOOS organized an extremely successful AOS members meeting that included the MAOC, EOC, COC and ALL of the specialty alliances. In addition, over the years, they have held several other MAOC’s and COC’s (Canadian Orchid Congress) events.

Information booths as well as special exhibits staffed by SOOS members at various horticultural events such Canada Blooms contribute to educating the public about orchids on an ongoing basis.

In 1975, a group of dedicated members formed a study group to learn more about this fascinating plant family and started attending shows in throughout the United States. A large number of that original group became judges with the AOS. I fact these judges were the ones that were instrumental in establishing the first AOS Judging Center outside of the continental USA, first as a Great Lakes satellite (1992) and then evolving into an independent site, the Toronto Judging Center. Although all of the Ontario and Quebec societies participated in sponsorship SOOS was and still is its major supporter, both financially and with personnel.

Conservation, particularly in the form of habitat preservation is a main tenant of SOOS. In just the last ten years, monies raised through successful shows have allowed SOOS to make generous contributions to the following worthy recipients:

Year Recipient Project Amount
2021 Nature Conservancy of Canada Manitoulin Island - Vidal Bay Forests and Shoreline (land purchase) 25,000
2020 Nature Conservancy of Canada Minesing Wetlands - Baldwick Bluff (land purchase) 10,000
2019 Nature Conservancy of Canada Minesing Wetlands - Stewardship 15,000
2018 Nature Conservancy of Canada Saugeen Bruce Peninsula - Dyers Bay West (land purchase) 10,000
2017 Canadian Orchid Congress COC Science Fair 1,450
2016 Nature Conservancy of Canada Manitoulin Island - Evansville Property (land purchase) 5,000
2016 American Orchid Society The Mario and Conni Ferussi Award 1,357
2014 American Orchid Society In Memoriam of Mario Ferrusi, unrestricted 5,000
2014 Nature Conservancy of Canada Bruce Peninsula - Shining Rainbow Deer Nature Reserve (Trails) 10,000
2013 Nature Conservancy of Canada Bruce Peninsula - Greiling Estate Project (land purchase) 10,000
2011 Nature Conservancy of Canada Manitoulin Island - Tasker Property (land purchase) 10,000
2011 Mr. Tahiana U of Mtl Phd Project - Madagascar Orchid Research 500
2010 Nature Conservancy of Canada Bruce Peninsula - McClennan 2 Property (land purchase) 3,000

A newsletter to keep members informed about all that happening in this very active society has been a monthly staple almost since the inception of SOOS. They have been lucky enough to have a succession of talented devoted editors who have produced an interesting, informative newsletter. Today the website Facebook note all that is happening at SOOS and much of the orchid world around us, However, these still do not supplant the SOOS Newsletter. Inge Poot transcribes the presentations each month so that the members not only get to hear great speakers, but they have notes to refer to as needed. These gems of information are mostly mailed electronically but those who are not on line are not forgotten. They still get theirs via snail mail. Everyone wants to be included.

During this pandemic SOOS has gone to virtual meetings. Great programs interest up to 90 members each month. The virtual, judged Show Table has proved most popular. Often 100 plus entries are submitted. As a bonus the members get to see plants in flower that have never made it to the usual Show Table or even a show.

The members all miss the in-person meetings and shows. We are hoping to get back to them soon. The first 56 years saw many changes. I wonder what the next decades will bring.