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Jim Koempel, an orchardist at Cashmere, Washington, has been named Apple Citizen of the Year by the Washington Apple Blossom Festival. The Apple Citizen of the Year award has been presented annually since 1981 to honor industry leaders. The recipient is selected by a group of apple industry representatives.

Koempel grew up on a family farm at Tieton, Washington, and graduated from Washington State University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. His first job was as a vocational agriculture and wood shop teacher at Cashmere High School. He and his wife bought their first ten acres of orchard in 1969. They now have about 275 acres of tree fruits, including apples, pears, cherries, apricots, and peaches.

Koempel serves on the board of directors of the Peshastin Irrigation District, the Washington Growers Clearing House Association, and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. He has traveled to the state capital of Olympia and to Washington, D.C., to inform legislators, congressional representatives and government agencies about agricultural issues.