Monday, December 20, 2021

A Growing Iris Resource on YouTube: Part II

 By Heather Haley

In this post, I'll continue sharing the story of a growing iris resource on YouTube. The American Iris Society (AIS) uses its YouTube Channel to help organize and disseminate knowledge of the genus Iris, while fostering its preservation, enjoyment and continued development. Many of the videos available are from the AIS Webinar Series, and their upload was planned for the benefit of all persons interested in irises. 

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, AIS had organized some virtual meetings, but it had not conducted online training classes. Uncertainty and the need to keep everyone separated disrupted many AIS activities for local affiliates, its regions, and the organization as a whole. Some of the AIS officers met to discuss what could be done. It was decided that AIS could conduct virtual presentations to communicate and connect with its membership. With this decision, the AIS Webinar Series was born. 

Some of the officers present volunteered to prepare the first webinars in the series. A previous blog post described webinars by Gary White, Bonnie Nichols, and Jody Nolin during 2020. Some of these early webinars were also Judges Training sessions. Like many others stuck at home, I was thankful for opportunities to become more knowledgeable and involved in the AIS Judges Training Program during the pandemic. 

In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, AIS faced another year of uncertainty. With a second national convention in peril, all AIS sections and cooperating societies were invited to give presentations in the webinar series. Most of them accepted, and the webinar series continues to this day. 

The following describes some of the webinars that volunteers prepared, delivered, recorded and posted to the AIS YouTube Channel during 2021.


Professor Carol Wilson was introduced by Dr. Robert Hollingworth, chairman of the AIS Scientific Advisory Committee. Dr. Wilson received her Ph.D. in the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, where she researched evolution of the Pacific Coast irises. Afterward she completed postdoctoral research on haustoria in African mistletoe in the family Loranthaceae, a project based at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. After serving in faculty positions at Portland State University and Claremont Graduate University, she returned to the University of California, Berkeley as a research scientist, where she continues her work on irises and mistletoe. 


Dr. Robert Hollingworth, chairman of the AIS Scientific Advisory Committee, returned to introduce Dr. Carol Wilson for her second webinar. For more information about Dr. Wilson's research, travel log, and phylogenetic trees, check out her website The Genus Iris.


Howie Dash is president of the Aril Society International and a member of the AIS Board of Directors. Howie originally grew arilbred irises in the Hudson Valley of New York and moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico 11 years ago where he compiled an extensive collection of aril and arilbed irises. He has hybridized tall bearded and arilbred irises since 2010. His first arilbred introduction, ‘Chihuahua Night,’ pictured on the left, was in 2019.


Bob is an Emeritus Professor from Michigan State University. He is the current President of the AIS Foundation; chairman of the AIS Scientific Advisory Committee; and current editor of The Siberian Iris, the Bulletin for the Society for Siberian Irises. Bob is also the hybridizer of the American Dykes Medal winner, 'Swans In Flight', a Siberian iris, and the first and only beardless iris (so far) to win the American Dykes Medal.


Bob Pries created the AIS Iris Encyclopedia in 2007 and has been its manager in the years since, continuously adding to its depth and importance. By education, Bob is a botanist. His interest in irises is wide ranging and encyclopedic. Bob has served on the AIS Board of Directors, and has served as president of the Species Iris Group of North America, the Dwarf Iris Society, and the Aril Society International, as well as heading up several AIS committees. This webinar focused on iris information and content that is available in the iris encyclopedia and in the online library. (The library contains a nice selection of videos showing iris gardens, hybridizing techniques, and cultural information you might be interested in too.)


Patrick is broadly interested in plants native to Louisiana and the Gulf South with emphasis on Louisiana irises. He has grown and hybridized Louisiana irises since the late 1970s and has registered around 120 Louisiana iris hybrids with AIS. In 2018 his hybrid ‘Deja Voodoo’ won the Society’s Mary Swords DeBaillon Medal, the highest award given to a Louisiana iris cultivar. He is the past president and a charter member of the Greater New Orleans Iris Society. Patrick is also a past officer and board member of the Society for Louisiana Irises.


If you have not done so already, consider subscribing to the AIS YouTube Channel. You can show your support for this growing iris resource, and receive updates when AIS adds new videos for you to enjoy. 

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