Apple Citizen of the Year
2017 Apple Citizen of the Year: Leo Garcia
The Apple Citizen of the Year award began in 1981 to honor the roots of the Festival and the leaders that make this the Apple Capital of the World.
Leo is a 1974 graduate of Tulancigo High School in Mexico. He graduated in 1984 from Washington State
University with a degree in Horticulture. After obtaining his degree he worked as a Fieldman at Trout, Chief Wenatchee, and Stemilt. Leo was the first Latino Fieldman and consultant in this area.
With input from the fruit industry he created the Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program (HOEEP) at Wenatchee Valley College and has been teaching that course as well as other Agriculture classes since 1991.
“Leo Garcia has been an amazing resource for the tree fruit and wine grape growers industry in all of Eastern Washington since 1991 when he joined Wenatchee Valley College. From his initial involvement in the creation of the Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program to bringing a similar program to wine grape growers, Leo continues to be the expert growers turn to for help with employee training. I am extremely proud of Leo for his many accomplishments and his deep commitment to students, agriculture and WVC.” – Dr. Jim Richardson, President of Wenatchee Valley College.
“Leo puts his heart into everything he does, believing in people and honoring each and every person for their unique abilities, and teaches them to believe in themselves. Helping people get good jobs and helping them succeed is a great source of pride for him.” – Tom Auvil, Research Horticulturist with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
“Leo just really loves his job!” -Francisco Sarmiento Leo’s Assistant for the last 18 years.
Leo and his wife Karen have been married for 38 years have, 2 children, and 1 grandchild. In his spare time, he enjoys farming, cooking up traditional Mexican cuisine, and construction including woodworking.
2016 Apple Citizen of the Year: David Smeltzer
David Smeltzer has been named 2016 Apple Citizen of the Year. The Apple Blossom Festival Queen Kori Martin, Princesses Sami Everhart and Emily Homes, and Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson surprised David with the award at Oneonta offices. The Apple Citizen of the Year award began in 1981 to honor the roots of the Festival and the leaders that make this the Apple Capital of the World.
David is a 1971 graduate of Wenatchee High School. He graduated in 1976 from Washington State University with a degree in accounting. David began his career with Peshastin Fruit Growers Association as an accountant. In 1978 he went to work for Cascadian Fruit Shippers as office manager, then eventually as General Manager. When Cascadian was purchased by Custom Apple/Starr Ranch Growers in 1997, David transitioned on as plant manager and currently serves as the CFO.
David was a long time board member of the Wenatchee Traffic Association where he served a two-year term as President of the Board. During the Industry association consolidation process he represented the Traffic Association on the industry task force and then served on the transitional board of the newly formed Washington State Tree Fruit Association. He is a board member and past Chairman of the Northwest Horticultural Council, a past member of the US Apple Association Board and is a past board member and chairman of Central Washington Hospital. He also currently serves on the board of the Northwest Fruit Exporters. He is a member of the Saddlerock Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
David and his wife Ruth have been married for 39 years and have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. He enjoys spending his spare time traveling, being in the outdoors and spending time with his family at Lake Chelan.
David will be honored at the All Service Club Luncheon on Wednesday, May 4, and will also ride in the Stemilt Growers Grand Parade on May 7.
2015 Apple Citizen of the Year: Dr. Jay Brunner
Dr. Jay Brunner has been named 2015 Apple Citizen of the Year. The Apple Blossom Festival Queen Gabby Waterman and Festival Administrator Darci Waterman surprised Jay with the award on Friday evening while he watched the Gonzaga game with friends and family. The Apple Citizen of the Year award began in 1981 to honor the roots of the Festival and the leaders that make this the Apple Capital of the World.
Dr. Brunner is a 1965 graduate of Pendleton High School in Portland, OR. He has been associated with Entomology research and education for 36 years. His first professional position was with Michigan State University as Assistant Professor in Entomology where he led the state’s Tree Fruit Extension Pest Management Program and conducted research on tree fruit pests. During the last 33 years he has been located at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, and serving as Director of the Center for the last 13 years. Dr. Brunner received his BA from Willamette University (1969), and his MS (1973) and PhD (1975) from Washington State University in Entomology. Dr. Brunner’s research and education focus is in Integrated Pest Management, specializing in development of sampling methods and action thresholds, predictive models, biological control, mating disruption, and insecticide control of tree fruit pests. He has published 77 peer review journal articles along with numerous Extension, popular articles, and technical reports, and mentored 38 graduate students and post-docs. Over his career at WSU he has generated over $17 million in grant funding to support his program.
Dr. Brunner’s philosophical foundation is as follows: “The approach I bring to my research position at WSU is based on my philosophy of mankind’s responsibility as a steward of natural resources and accountability to society. Agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry represent segments of society with major responsibility for managing natural resources to produce food and fiber. This responsibility must be undertaken through good stewardship that maintains the quality of the land and sustains renewable resources. I firmly believe that Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is grounded in the principles of ecology, is the best stewardship blueprint for agriculture.
Dr. Brunner and his wife have been married for 34 years and have three children and six grandchildren. In his spare time, he enjoys golfing and kayaking.
Dr. Brunner will be honored at the All Service Club Luncheon on Wednesday, April 29, and will also ride in the Stemilt Growers Grand Parade on May 2.