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Laura Mrachek oversees the operations of Cascade Analytical in Wenatchee and its Yakima branch. The labs provide agricultural and environmental testing services.

Laura Mrachek oversees the operations of Cascade Analytical in Wenatchee and its Yakima branch. The labs provide agricultural and environmental testing services.

The presentation of Women’s Leadership Awards during the Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting last month marked more than ten years of recognizing the contributions of women to the tree fruit industry, an awards program launched by Laura Mrachek.

The awards program, initiated in 1996, honors women demonstrating leadership in science and industry service. It is still a sponsored project of Mrachek’s, but the awards are now recognized by the Hort Association and included as part of its annual meeting awards ceremony.

"I never assumed that the Hort Association would take on the awards as its own, so I am humbled and gratified that they would make it part of their culture," she said. In the first five years, she was not part of the annual meeting program but did present the awards during the hort –convention.

"Everyone thought that I would run out of qualified women when I started the program, but there are a ton of women out there," Mrachek quipped.
Mrachek, often the lone female in a meeting of growers, serves as a role model for women interested in horticulture. She is in line to be the first woman president of the Hort Association in 2009.

"The horticultural industry is not especially hospitable to women," she said, explaining that other agricultural industries, like wine, have many more women participating than the tree fruit industry.