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Background on the Wister Medal


7/24/96    11:39 A.M.

Hello Everyone,

The idea for the Wister Medal came originally from Region 1. Some of the
region's members felt that several things could be remedied by creating
such a medal. First, and most important, it would honor the late John
Wister, the first president of AIS. Secondly, every class of irises
would have a medal awarded yearly. Lynn Markham of Massachusetts was the
driving force behind the creation of the Wister Medal. She spearheaded
the drive to have members design the medal and present it to the AIS
Executive Board.

The Wister Medal also solved another problem, and that had to do with
eligibility for the Dykes Medal. It had been decided that all medal
winners i.e. Morgan-Wood, Payne, etc., would be placed in the Dykes
medal eligibility pool. Had the Wister Medal not been created, the tall
bearded irises would not have been represented on the Dykes ballot. It
was also felt that if just the medal winners were to be eligible for the
Dykes, that that would lower the number of the irises from which to vote.
You may recall that at one time AIS had a 15% rule. That is, an iris had
to have 15% of the Dykes vote to be awarded the Dykes Medal. There were
at least two years when the Dykes Medal was not awarded in the 1980's
because of the 15% rule. When the rule was dropped, Everything Plus
received the Dykes with about 8% of the total vote. Many irises in the
past had received 10% to 14.9% of the vote, and never were awarded the
prestigious medal. This did not go down well with many AIS members. Ben
Hager even stated that he would not accept another Dykes Medal for one
of his irises unless it did garner 15% of the vote. With just the
previous medal winners making up the eligibility pool, it was felt that
the 15% rule should be dropped. It was. By restricting the Dykes
balloting to just the medal winners, the vote would be more
concentrated. This would, in effect, reduce the chances of a Dykes Medal
winner with less than 15% of the vote. This new method of balloting would
also insure that there would be a Dykes Medal awarded every year. There
more to this story, but this may shed some light on why the Wister Medal
is awarded only to tall bearded irises.

Ted White        Minot, Maine        USDA Zone 5         AIS Region 1





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