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For me it all started in 1992. I was treasurer of SIGNA. Signa had just financed a scheme to send Jim Waddick to China to collect irises with its success I became braver. I noted that although there was a section of the Judges Handbook on judging species It was sort of crazy since there were no awards for better species cultivars let alone the interesting crosses that were developing using species. I started campaigning for two new awards.

My campaigning for change placed me as chairman of an AIS committee. The committee had three AIS legends as its members: Ben Hager the hybridizer who had won every highest award for Irises in the current classifications; Francesca Thoolen treasurer of AIS and expert on Aril Irises and Currier McEwen who literally wrote the book on Siberian Irises. Needless to say I was a bit intimidated. Who was I to chair such a prestigious group. But everyone saw the need for something to be done.

I presented our report at the 1993 Spring board meeting. It turned out to be a very opportune time as the board was completely redoing the awards system adding the Wister medals for Tall-bearded and two more new medals did not seem like a stretch. Besides it completely filled out the awards system so that every iris had a classification home. The first awards of merit for Species and Species Crosses were to be given in 1995. My one sadness was that in many of the AIS publications the Species Cross category was referred to as interspecies crosses which is only a subgroup of Species Crosses.--Bob Pries
Topic revision: r1 - 19 Sep 2022, BobPries
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