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Wenatchee businesswoman and fruit grower Laura Mrachek becomes the 104th president of the Washington State Horticultural Association this month and the first woman to head the organization.

Mrachek, 54, said she’s excited about the board’s composition and pleased to see that young people are participating at important levels in the fruit industry and lending their energy to make a difference.

John Verbrugge moves into the first vice president position on the board during the annual meeting, with West Mathison as second vice president. Dan Gebbers of Brewster and Court Wyckoff of Grandview have been nominated to the board.

"We’re looking at some amazing things going on with Hort," Mrachek said.

She’s also pleased to see increasing collaboration between industry groups. Bruce Grim, who was appointed executive director of the Hort Association this year, also serves as manager of a group of marketing associations including the Washington Apple Growers Marketing Association.

Synergy

"We’re looking to be much more synergistic about our efforts and clear about the division of labor when necessary," she said.

Mrachek owns the testing laboratory Cascade Analytical, Inc., in Wenatchee. She and her husband, Mike, own wineries in Malaga and Quincy, and grow grapes, tree fruits, and blueberries.

The Mracheks were named Good Fruit Growers of the Year for 2008 by Good Fruit Grower magazine for their innovation, commitment to quality fruit production, and their contributions to the industry, as well as for being an inspiration to others.

Since 1996, Mrachek has sponsored two awards to recognize the contributions of women in the tree fruit industry: a Leadership in Science award and a Leadership in Service award. She has been a member of the Hort board since 1998.

Also serving on the Hort board are: Mark Holtzinger (outgoing president), David Douglas, Jose Ramirez, Jeff Cleveringa, Bryon McDougall, Doug England, Ray Fuller, Kevin Knight, Steve Zediker, Barbara Walkenhauer, Brenton Roy, and Sean Gilbert.