Where can you find careers in project management, welding, robotics, international sales, computer engineering, manufacturing, research and construction? Plus fulfilling work in accounting, human resources, business management, finance and logistics? All in your hometown? For those of us that work in Washington's World Class Tree Fruit industry, the answer's obvious! For those that haven't yet been provided exposure to the innovative, rewarding and diverse careers in the industry, it is a delightful surprise.
For the fourth year WAEF students got a chance for an up close and personal tour of the vast opportunities in several different industry firms. WAEF Career Tours are held over the students' holiday break. This year, three tours occurred. Two just prior to Christmas and the final one last week. Each year we organize tours at new locations.
In Yakima, students learned about creating automated solutions for warehouses while at Sims Manufacturing and the business of utilizing recycled goods to make valuable products with Michelsen Packaging. Their tour continued at Washington Fruit & Produce where they spent time with team members from the ranch, human resources, sales, accounting and risk management. Highlights of the day shared later by students were learning about local opportunities, discovering multiple roles for engineers in the industry, experiencing enhanced computer aided design and simply having their eyes opened to the exhaustive breadth of jobs locally in the tree fruit industry.
In Wenatchee, the tour began with a high-level industry overview followed by informal discussion with Washington Apple Commission president Todd Fryhover. Students then traveled to AgroFresh and learned about their product development process for pre- and post-harvest needs. Over lunch at Columbia Fruit, members of the company's food safety and horticulture staffs shared about their own career paths and then invited students to participate in candid conversation about preparing for and approaching career work in the tree fruit industry. The Wenatchee tour ended at the riverside "One Fifth Street" building where both US Bank and EnzaFruit Products have offices. Students learned about commercial lending and finance and club variety fruit marketing. We heard from students that they appreciated such a wide look at the types of companies interacting in the tree fruit industry, candid conversation with professionals in the industry and opportunities for back and forth discussion.
The Yakima and Wenatchee tours are full day affairs.
Our final tour occurred at Gebbers Farms in Brewster late last week. Students were taken through a tour of the warehouse with emphasis placed on the roles of robotics, automation and data driven decision making. Over hot pizza (on a very cold day!), presentations from staff working in horticulture, accounting and governmental affairs completed the career tour.
As you might guess, the holiday season is a time when many industry members plan getaways and limit their "office time". We are truly appreciative of the individuals that took time to help students broaden their horizons through the holiday Career Tours. In addition to the learning about jobs, students heard over and over again about the importance of character in hiring decisions, a developed network and demonstrating solid work ethic in all endeavors.
Thank you to our presenters:
Alfredo Reyes - Washington Fruit & Produce*
Brock Nemecek - Enza
Brooke McGuire - Gebbers Farms
Bryan Mains - Washington Fruit & Produce
Chris Willett - Enza*
Dan McKinney - Gebbers Farms
Dr. Nate Reed - AgroFresh
Emily Bautista-Herdt - AgroFresh*
Frank Davis - Washington Fruit & Produce*
Garrett Babst - AgroFresh
Jeff Christopherson - Columbia Fruit
Jeff Nordstrom - Washington Fruit & Produce
Jon Wyss - Gebbers Farms
Josh Williamson - Michelsen Packaging*
Kurt Brownlee - US Bank
Melanie Wyss - Gebbers Farms*
Michael Taylor - Gebbers Farms
Mike Pepper - Sims Manufacturing
Mike Wade - Columbia Fruit Packers*
Nate Rubio - Washington Fruit & Produce*
Nick Brunner- Columbia Fruit
Rick Plath - Washington Fruit & Produce
Ron Jim - Michelsen Packaging
To Reyna - Michelsen Packaging
Teresa Pritchard - Washington Fruit & Produce
Todd Fryhover - Washington Apple Commission
Tom Perry - Washington Fruit & Produce
Travis Schoenwald - Gebbers Farms
Welcome Sauer - Gebbers Farms*
* tour organizers and/or site leaders