Lab coats and naked oats: The Vern Burrows Story

In his long career, Dr. Vern Burrows has bred and registered 28 new varieties of oats. It is an outstanding contribution to the Canadian grain industry. View this video to learn more about one of Canada’s star researchers.

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Video Transcript

[Light, electronic music fades in.]

[The video opens with a panning shot of an open notepad.]

[Cut to close-up of oat seeds in a container.]

[Cut to close-up of certificate bearing Dr. Vernon Burrows name.]

Dave Gehl: Vern's top characteristics...

[Pan across envelopes]

...as a scientist are vision...

[Cut to medium close-up of Dave Gehl speaking in front of oat samples.]

...and tenacity.

[Close-up of Research Director, Michèle Marcotte.]

Michèle Marcotte: He really inspired not only one generation of research scientists...

[Cut to medium close-up of Michèle Marcotte.]

...but now we have even the second generation of research scientists and even the third...

[Medium shot rack focus of multiple oat containers]

...generation.

[Fade to white.]

[Fade in to low opacity labelled oat stalks in greenhouse.]

Text on screen: Lab Coats and Naked Oats, The Story of Vern Burrows

Narrator: He has received the order of Canada.

[Cut to audience applauding.]

He was inducted into the Canadian science...

[Still frame of Dr. Burrows holding award.]

...and engineering hall of fame.

[Pan of plates featuring images of Dr. Burrows on them.]

Twice, he has been honoured in China where he is often...

[Picture of Dr. Burrows in China.]

...compared to the legendary Norman Bethune.

[Side by side shots of Dr. Burrows in front of statue of himself.]

The Chinese have even built a statue in his honour.

[Medium close-up of plaque in Dr. Burrows' honour.]

Despite his many achievements...                               

[Close-up of another plaque in Dr. Burrows' honour.]

...and awards...

[Cut to medium close-up of Dr. Vernon Burrows.]

...he remains his humble self.

[Cut to Dr. Burrows working on oats in a greenhouse.]

A plant breeder who specializes...

[Close-up of oats in Dr. Burrows hands.]

...in oats.

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dave Gehl.]

Text on screen: Dave Gehl, Former Head of the Seed Increase Unit, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dave Gehl: Vern has a very long career of developing improved varieties...

[Chinese plaque with Dr. Burrows on it.]

...and he's noted internationally...

[Chinese plates with Dr. Burrows.]

...as being a very top-notch scientist.

[Photos of Dr. Burrows on wall.]

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

Text on screen: Vern Burrows, Research Scientist Emeritus, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Vern Burrows: The person that inspired me to be a scientist...

[Tilt picture of Dr. Burrows' grandfather.]

...was my grandfather.

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

He was a bit of an experimentalist, as well as a...

[Rack focus a picture of oats.]

...straight gardener.

[Tilt of oat crop.]

I was pretty impressed with this...

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

...that you could modify things.

[Cut to close-up of Michèle Marcotte.]

Michèle Marcotte: Dr. Burrows is really remarkable in terms of going...

[Cut to medium close-up of Michèle Marcotte.]

Text on screen: Michèle Marcotte, Director of Research, Development and Technology, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

...from his creative mind, elaborating concepts and then going through and really providing farmers with solutions.

[Dr. Burrows hanging bunches of oats.]

Narrator: Most plant breeders would consider 10 new varieties a great accomplishment in their career.

[Close-up of oats being set on table.]

Dr. Burrows has bred and registered...

[Close-up of oats being cut.]

...an incredible 28 new...

[Close-up of running oats through mini threshing machine.]

...varieties of oats. The most successful variety...

[Medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

...is his AC Gehl, also known...

[Close-up of naked oat.]

...as the naked oat.

[Zoom out of oats seeds.]

Unlike other oats, it's hulless and hairless.

[Cut to oats being filtered through a screen.]

These qualities make it easier and more efficient to harvest and process, and because the hull is already gone, it's also cheaper to transport.

[Close-up of oat seeds on filter.]

Yet Dr. Burrows found a way to make sure it remains...

[Medium close-up of Dr. Burrows chewing oats.]

...high in nutrients.

[Cut to close-up of oat stalks.]

It may well become the crop for the future, replacing rice...

[Cut to oat head.]

...as a staple grain in Asia.

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

Dr. Vernon Burrows: Nobody had really worked on...

[Close-up of bag of oat seeds.]

...the quality of the oat crop.

[Still shot of oat samples in envelopes.]

The hull is a problem...

[Close-up of Brown paper bags.]

...so I thought to myself...

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

...I've got to change this and I went to the hulless oat, the naked oat, as we call it.

[Rack focus of oat seeds in container.]

We modernized it.

[Rack focus from notebooks to oat samples.]

We now have a hulless oat that's a pretty good...

[Close-up of dried oat bunch.]

...candidate for major...

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

...utilization by the, not only the farming community...

[Rack focus of oat seed samples.]

...but the food community.

[Medium shot of AC Gehl oat field.]

Text on screen: AC Gehl --A Dual purpose grain and forage oat

It's most nutritious and easy...

[Rack focus of oat seed samples.]

...to grow and easy to process.

[Cut back to medium close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

You know you've arrived when you've combined as many good traits as possible. I have a feeling that some of these oats will become very prominent.

[Cut to Dr. Burrows' office door.]

Narrator:Dr. Burrows is a researcher emeritus at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa.

[Medium shot of Dr. Burrows walking down the hall of research facility.]

At eighty-five, he comes to work every day with a smile.

[Oat greenhouse door closes.]

He is an inspiration to his fellow public servants.

[Pan of oat crops in a greenhouse.]

He is an ambassador for Canadian science.

[Cut to Vernon Burrows sitting looking through oat crops.]

And he is recognized for his substantial contribution to Canada...

[Cut to headshot close-up of Dr. Burrows.]

...and Canadian agriculture.

[Fade to white.]

[Cut to white screen with Government of Canada logo.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2016).

[Light, electronic music fades out.]

[Fade to black.]

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