Lovely Setting, Great Food, Even Better People!

The Washington Apple Education Foundation would not have accomplished its milestone achievements this year without our volunteers. Almost all of WAEF operations depend on our volunteer support and we are so appreciative that we had so many people, well over 150 in our 2015-2016 year, donating their valuable time and energy to WAEF. Whether it was our- student career tours, student dinners, WAEF committees, scholarship selection & announcements, golf tournaments, luncheons, care packages, or on our board of directors- a volunteer was there!

We truly enjoy working alongside our volunteers, but we really enjoy recognizing their efforts and celebrating them more! For these reasons we hold our annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast to allow volunteers and staff to connect and socialize. We also get to say a personal “Thank you!” to those who can attend.

Held at Cave B, outdoors on the piazza overlooking the breathtaking landscape, around 40 volunteers gathered this morning, August 25th, shared breakfast, heard from a current student speaker and a few of our amazing volunteers were presented with one of our “Volunteer of the Year” awards. 

Student speaker Gabriela Navarrete is a graduate of Wahluke High School and currently attends college at Southern Oregon University studying criminology. She is a third year WAEF scholarship recipient and is entering her senior year of college. Gabriela spoke of the financial relief that the WAEF scholarships provide her family. She shared that because of the scholarships she is living her dream: going to her first pick college, studying what she wants to study, working in her field while she attends school, and getting ready to graduate in one year! Gabriela thanked the donors and volunteers for the support that they have provided her, specifically sharing that she has saved every note from every care package that she has received and posted them on her bulletin board as a motivation to keep going!

Awards were presented to the following individuals and group:

WAEF Alumni Volunteer of the Year—Vanessa Reyes Romero

This year we have added an award.  We could not be more thrilled to have the input and participation from our former scholarship recipients that have now returned to WAEF in a volunteer role.  This year six former students participated on the scholarship selection committee, two of our former students sent care packages to current students, two more served on the student stewardship committee, and many others helped at events and activities. Our Alumni Association is slowly growing.

Vanessa Reyes Romero became a WAEF volunteer at her very first opportunity, the same year she became a WAEF scholarship recipient.  Vanessa volunteered at our golf tournament, one of the only activities we did at the time that we requested volunteer involvement in.  She continued each of the four years she received WAEF scholarships and has not missed a chance yet to participate in the annual golf tournament and help with the luncheons.  Vanessa adds a spark to each of the WAEF events jumping in wherever she can make a difference.  Since graduating as a WAEF student with her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Vanessa has completed her master’s degree in criminal justice at Seattle University and is preparing for law school. Congratulations Vanessa, our first WAEF Alumni Volunteer of the Year! Thank you!

Individual Volunteer of the Year—Dee Schoenmakers

Dee began with WAEF while working for another tree fruit industry organization and WAEF contracted with that association for her to do our bookkeeping.  Dee volunteered that first year with us to help at the golf tournament (and keep the receipts straight). She’s continued on for 15 years making sure our golf tournament transactions at Wenatchee and Yakima are orderly and easy to account for. We think golfers attend our annual fundraising golf tournaments to help the students go to college, but it could be they really come back for the homemade cookies and smiled from Dee! Dee regularly helps at the scholarship luncheons as a seating host.  Congratulations and thank you for all your support to WAEF, Dee!

Company/Group Volunteers of the Year—AgroFresh

There are many reasons companies encourage their employees to volunteer in the community. 

Studies show it improves morale resulting in heightened performance in the workplace and reducing employee turnover, it opens promotional opportunities to new groups potentially increasing customer traffic and it enhances corporate image and reputation.

Those are valuable strategic reasons to get involved.  What we see at WAEF is that volunteers care about the industry, their communities and the future.  In the case of this year’s Volunteer Group of the Year, we are so excited that members of AgroFresh Growers have chosen WAEF to support with their time and talents.

AgroFresh volunteers La Verne Bergstrom, Darrell Riddle, Garret Babst and Emily Bautista-Herdt in 2016:

  • Served on the scholarship selection and farmworker education committees,
  • Volunteered at the scholarship luncheons and golf tournaments,
  • Served on the board of directors,
  • Posted jobs for WAEF students,
  • And came together to raise funds from their coworkers to award their own AgroFresh employee funded scholarship award granted to a WAEF Wish List student.

Representing all of her fellow AgroFresh volunteers during this extra busy season was Emily Bautista-Herdt. 

Again, thank you to all our volunteers who could attend the breakfast and all those reading this today- you are truly appreciated! We hope to see you at our next WAEF event. For information on volunteering, please contact our office at (509) 663-7713 or online here: