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Twenty-four years ago, Victor Bueno, recipient of the Latino Leadership Award during the 113th Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting, and Karen Lewis, extension specialist with Washington State University, created a Spanish-language session with about 70 participants attending that first year.

This year the Spanish session grew tremendously, hosting over 900 attendees for an entire day’s worth of presentations focused on educating the Hispanic community of Washington.

Rene Maldonado, WorkSource, speaks during the Washington State Tree Fruit Association 113th Annual Meeting on December 6, 2017. <b>(TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)</b>

Rene Maldonado, WorkSource, speaks during the Washington State Tree Fruit Association 113th Annual Meeting on December 6, 2017. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

This year’s sessions were not only attended by Hispanics, but also bilingual attendees who were interested in pesticide safety, irrigation systems, food safety regulations, ATV/UTV safety tips, scholarships from Washington Apple Education Foundation, H-2A programs and methods to reduce apple sunburn.

The response I saw during these sessions confirmed that we are on the right path regarding educational topics that are of interest to the Hispanic community, and that we need to continue organizing events for Spanish speakers.

– by Eladio Gonzales, an orchard manager for G.S. Long and was the manager of WSTFA’s 2017 Spanish sessions.