WAEF Quarterly Board of Directors Meeting

WAEF directors held their quarterly board of directors meeting last in Ellensburg on the Central Washington University campus. Attending this meeting were chairman Kailan Dunn, vice-chairman James Foreman, treasurer Dwaine Brown and directors Brian Alegria, Hans van Someren Grève, Darrin Belton (elected at meeting), Larry Martin, Jeff Fagg, Chris Willett, Ruth Pringle, Frank Davis, Cory Groves and La Verne Bergstrom.

WAEF meetings generally begin with members sharing a little about themselves so others can get to know them. This meeting members were asked to share a favorite food they look to cook. We learned few of our directors actually cook but many grill and BBQ.

Student Speaker - Riley Martin, Perry Tech

Riley Martin, Naches, was our guest student speaker at the meeting. Riley is a first year WAEF student enrolled in Perry Tech's instrumentation program. Riley shared that after completing two years of community college he struggled for a period to find an appropriate career path. With encouragement from friends and family he decided to check out Perry Tech. After completing his tour he determined he had aptitude and interest aligned with the instrumentation program.

Riley learned about WAEF through his then summer employer, HR Spinner.

As a Perry Tech student, Riley is in class from 7:30am-4:30pm Monday through Thursday. He works at HR Spinner on Fridays. Some of the things Riley especially likes about Perry Tech: competitive environment where you're challenged to be the best in the class, instructors that develop a unique camaraderie with students, workday type requirements with attendance, name badges and personal responsibility and the nearly 95% placement rate of graduates.

With vocational education a strong push for WAEF at this time, hearing from Riley about his education and his potential interest in a tree fruit industry career in Yakima came at a beneficial time for directors.

Board Member Election

Darrin Belton, Zillah, was elected at this meeting to begin athree-year term on the WAEF board of directors. Darrin is the NW Sales Manager for Wilbur Ellis Company. He has been with the company since 1988.

2016 In Review

With the 2016 year coming to a close, a look at WAEF's activities during the year was presented. A few highlights and new activities:

  • Over $1 million in scholarships awarded
  • Growth in renewable scholarships - 110 renewable awards offered in 2016
  • Student workshops on budgeting, goal setting and career preparation offered prior to the scholarship luncheons
  • Offering to students pursuing a career in the tree fruit industry of an industry mentor
  • Sponsorship of two students at the WSTFA Annual Meeting in December (four WAEF students attended)
  • 40 high schools, two technical high schools, three colleges and four warehouses reached with scholarship training in the fall (just over 3500 students)
  • $20,000 awarded in grants to ESL and Citizenship programs
  • Two half-day ESL provider forums hosted
  • Welcoming of Larry Martin & Chris Willett to the board of directors and Miles Kohl to the Counselors Roundtable
  • 22 alumni volunteering in one or more areas of WAEF

Burning Topics

Time is reserved each meeting for members of the board to bring forward ideas important for the body to consider. Burning topics brought forward by members at this meeting: awareness of current apple prices, need for additional funding for vocational scholarships, importance of helping students find jobs & prepare for careers, recognition of the importance of follow-through with grant recipients and need to be aware of achieving continued growth.

Reserve Fund

WAEF maintains a reserve equal to approximately six months of operating needs. The reserve fund was discussed and a motion was made to update appropriately.

WAEF Staffing

An update on current WAEF staff and future needs was discussed. Currently, the foundation has two full-time staff members (Jennifer Witherbee, executive director and Talia Barajas, scholarship program coordinator). The assistant director, Jillian Rice, is currently on maternity leave returning late April part-time.

WAEF has hired a one-day per week employee, Susanne Sorter, as a bookkeeper and has a part-time temporary employee while Jillian is on maternity leave.

Discussion about how to fulfill expectations in student services had high engagement. Direction for this area will be to ensure students and parents receive the right levels of involvement to impact student success rates. Efforts will continue on to introduce students to tree fruit industry careers. WAEF will look to add a part-time staff member to assist in the area of student services late spring/early summer

$1 Million in Scholarships in 2017

WAEF is committed to assisting tree fruit industry young people with over $1 million in scholarship again in 2017.  Directors will be following up with individuals that have supported scholarships in recent past and have identified others that may have an interest in awarding a named scholarship. 

It was discussed that a key to achieving the $1 million is for the right students to apply.  www.waef.org/scholarships

Board Member Goal Setting

Annually directors take a personal assessment of their impact on WAEF through the prior year and establish personal goals for involvement in the coming year. All board members are asked to make a personal gift to WAEF, attend at least three of the four annual board meetings, serve on at least one standing committee, communicate appreciation to current donors, introduce new individuals to the foundation and volunteer at one or more WAEF events.


Chairmen of the various WAEF standing committees shared about membership on their committee: time commitment, work of the committee and current membership needs. WAEF standing committees are:

            Audit - meets once annually when auditors present confirmation of financial statements. Chairman Dwaine Brown

            Investment - meets twice annually to ensure activity of the investment advisor follows the foundation's investment policy statement. Chairman Dan Plath

            Scholarship selection - 60-member committee selects the current year WAEF scholarship recipients. A spring commitment of about 30 hours per member. Chairman Cory Groves

            Farmworker - Review grant applicants and makes personal visits to grant recipients. Chairman Ruth Pringle

            Strategic Planning - Updates plan bi-annually, looks at issues and future positioning of the foundation. Chairman Jeff Fagg

            Resource Development - Strategizes solutions for raising funds and actively engages potential donors and sponsors. Chairman James Foreman

            Student Stewardship - Coordinates activities to introduce students to tree fruit industry mentors and careers. Chairman Frank Davis

20 members now serve on the WAEF board of directors. Each member commits to a three-year term and may be elected to multiple terms.