Dena Ybarra joins Research Commission
Denny Hayden steps down after 20 years on the board.
Dena Ybarra is the first woman to serve on the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission board.
Dena Ybarra, general manager of Columbia Basin Nurseries at Quincy, Washington, has been appointed to the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and is the board’s first female member. She succeeds Pasco orchardist Denny Hayden, who has served 20 years in the position as an appointee of the Washington State Fruit Commission. He was vice president of the Research Commission and chair of its cherry advisory committee.
Ybarra, 46, earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Washington State University and manages her family's nursery and fruit growing operation, which was founded by her parents Gie Perleberg and the late Carl Perleberg. She has attended the commission’s research reviews for several years and has been a member of the commission’s cherry and apple horticulture advisory committees. She will join the commission's board on August 1.
Hayden said he is still passionate about research, but wanted to give younger people in the industry a chance to be involved. “The way to get people involved is to step aside,” he said.
Hayden said it’s been interesting to watch how the commission’s leadership has evolved. He joined the board when the late George Ing was manager. Ing led the commission for almost 30 years starting in 1970, the year after it formed. Dr. Jim McFerson has been manager since 1999.
“We had the right people at the right time,” Hayden said. “We had George when we needed a bulldog out there. He got the industry moving and interested in research.”
McFerson has been able to work with various other groups on a national basis and leverage Washington growers’ research funds to expand the scope of research, Hayden said. It’s been a way to make growers’ investment in research go much further, and McFerson has taken it to a level beyond the commissioners’ expectations.
Hayden feels that one of the most significant research developments during his tenure was the establishment of Washington State University’s cherry rootstock and cherry scion breeding programs at Prosser. Dr. Amy Iezzoni of Michigan State University worked to establish the rootstock breeding program, and WSU hired Dr. Nnadozie Oraguzie to lead cherry scion development.
“That’s going to be huge for the industry at some time in the future,” Hayden said.