Tree fruit industry leaders were honored during the Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting in Yakima in December.
George Allan, a partner at the fruit growing and packing operation Allan Brothers in Naches, Washington, received the Silver Apple Award. Allan grew up in Naches and earned a degree in agricultural science from Washington State University. After serving for two years with the U.S. Army, including a year in South Korea, he returned to farm with his brother Dave Allan and joined the family business that had been founded in the 1930s by his father, Bob, and uncles Alex, John, and Walt.
Allan was president of the Hort Association in 1994 and chair of the Washington Apple Commission in 2004. He served on the board of trustees of the U.S. Apple Association for nine years and is a former board member of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.
His previous honors include being named Cherry King in 1998 by the Cherry Institute. He and Dave were named Good Fruit Growers of the Year by the Good Fruit Grower magazine in 2000.
Linda Bailey, vice president of operations for the Pear Bureau Northwest, received the Silver Pear Award. Bailey earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979. She took what she expected to be a temporary job at the Pear Bureau the same year, intending eventually to become a teacher. Instead, she moved up the ranks from executive assistant to office manager to her current role. Presenting the award, incoming president Jeff Cleveringa said Bailey played a key role in consolidating numerous pear industry organizations under the federal marketing order and improving how pears are assessed and represented to the rest of the world. Coworkers have described her as a caring, genuine, dedicated, and hard-working person who makes those around her feel festive with her bright smile and good cheer.
Bailey will retire this year.
Jennifer Witherbee, executive director of the Washington Apple Education Foundation, received the Women’s Leadership Award for Service. She joined the organization in 2001 after graduating from Eastern Oregon University with a degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, and last year completed her master’s in business administration from Washington State University. Under her leadership, the organization has greatly increased the number of students it supports with scholarships. This year, it is helping almost 200 students achieve their goal of a college education.
Witherbee is chair of the Washington State Secretary of State’s Charities Advisory Committee, is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ government relations committee, and serves on the executive steering committee of the Washington Scholarship Coalition.
Dr. Ute Chambers, recipient of the Women’s Leadership in Science award, has been manager and educator with Washington State University’s online Decision Aid System since 2009. She grew up in East Germany and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in ecology from Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany. She earned a doctorate in applied entomology from the SwissFederal Institute of Technology in Zurich. After moving to the United States in 2007, she first worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Oregon State University in Corvallis where she developed integrated pest management strategies for hazelnuts and developed a passion for working with and helping growers.
Leo Garcia, lead faculty with Wenatchee Valley College’s tree fruit production and viticulture programs, received the Latino Leadership Award. Garcia heads the college’s Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program, which has more than 1,300 graduates. Presenting the Latino Leadership Award, Karen Lewis, Washington State University Extension educator, said Garcia was instrumental in ensuring that the Wenatchee Valley College and Washington State University’s tree fruit production programs were fully articulated, and has been a leader in building partnerships and improving curricula. Most important of all has been his leadership in growing people, she added.