Earlier this month the WAEF board of directors held its quarterly meeting. It is the second time this year for WAEF directors to meet via video conference. Elections of board members and officers had been postponed from their traditional May happening with the hope that this August meeting could be held in person. With the need to continue distance communications, elections commenced without further delay.
New Board Members
New board members Dale Hall and Irene Birdsall of Wenatchee and Nate Fulton and Tyler Price of Yakima were elected to each serve three-year terms.
Dale Hall is the general manager of Valley Tractor & Equipment. Irene Birdsall is the chief financial officer at McDougall & Sons. Nate Fulton is the agribusiness practice director for PayneWest Insurance. Tyler Price is senior management, office & warehouse for Price Cold Storage. All four have been involved in the tree fruit industry for multiple years and have a volunteer history with WAEF.
Due to the current Covid situation, current officers of WAEF were asked to remain in their officer roles for an additional year until May 2021. Current officers are Chris Willett, chairman; Jeff Fagg, vice-chairman; Laurie Knebusch, secretary; Dwaine Brown, treasurer and Bob Mast, immediate past chairman.
WAEF directors and staff expressed appreciation for the additional efforts being made by officers. Officers have been meeting more frequently the last few months to advise staff during the pandemic.
Renewing Board Members
Six existing board members were each elected to serve an additional three-year term on the board of directors. Bart Gebers, Wenatchee; Darrin Belton, Zillah; Dennis Bigness, Pasco; Jeff Fagg, Moses Lake; Laurie Knebusch, Yakima; and LaVerne Bergstrom will each continue as members of the board of directors.
A complete list of current members of the board of directors can be found on the foundation’s website, at www.waef.org/board-of-directors/.
Board Member Recognition
Each quarter board members are recognized for the actions on WAEF’s behalf outside of board meetings. Board members earn points for their advocacy, volunteer and fundraising efforts. Earning top point recognition for the last quarter were board members Rolando Martin, Nate Fulton, Keith Veselka and Andrew Sundquist.
Scholarship Promotion Plans
Board members learned about the unique promotion plans for 2021 scholarships. All outreach is planned to occur from a distance with the commitment that students will have the same or greater amount of information and access to WAEF scholarships.
Outreach in the 45 primary school districts where WAEF operates will focus on providing electronic materials to counselors and student advocates for their easy dissemination. Planned resources includes a monthly tips newsletter, short videos, promotional materials and a schedule of webinars open to students and counselors.
A scholarship training website is nearly completed with robust content including videos, quizzes and regional resources.
Regular promotion for industry employers will include short videos in English & Spanish communicating specific messages aimed at parents along with paycheck stuffers, posters, text message templates and monthly newsletter with scholarship facts and tips.
Current Student Stewardship
WAEF students are staying on track! WAEF staff is closely monitoring students and regularly reaching out with encouragement and resources. A new mentorship program launched this month to provide additional interaction and student guidance.
The majority of WAEF students are currently communicating plans to live near campuses, even if classes continue to be offered via distance education. Though this does increase living expenses, it’s also been found to be more effective for student focus.
Executive Director Annual Review
The annual review of the foundation’s executive director Jennifer Witherbee occurred during this meeting. Jennifer has completed her 19th year in this role with the foundation. All board members participate in the annual review.
· A renewed effort to encourage automated monthly giving is now underway. With changes to annual fundraisers and reduced personal interactions, it is recognized that new avenues for contributions are necessary. www.waef.org/donate
· December fundraisers, annual auction, raffle and Donate A Bin, will need to occur virtually. Plans are being worked on now.
· Directors will meet again on Thursday, November 5th