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Washington Apple Education Foundation hosts annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast

The Washington Apple Education Foundation hosted its annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, Nov. 22 to pay tribute to the over 150 volunteers that contributed to WAEF and its students this year. Collectively, volunteers reviewed over 400 scholarship applications, sent care packages to over 300 students, participated in one-on-one and group mentoring events, provided workshops on budgeting, networking and other career development topics, and so much more.

The celebration breakfast occurred at Cave B Inn in Quincy, WA. Present were approximately 50 volunteers that support WAEF through membership on the board of directors, service on various committees, provide student assistance and staff fundraising events.

Three awards were given out annually: Group Volunteer of the Year, Alumni Volunteer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

Stemilt Growers was announced as the 2019 Group Volunteer of the Year.  This year 16 Stemilt Growers’ employees participated in WAEF volunteer activities. Employees served as student mentors, they hosted WAEF students at a job shadow event in June and at a career exploration event in December. Employees volunteered at the foundation’s fundraising golf tournament and served on the scholarship selection committee. Additionally, Stemilt employees are involved in organization governance through membership on the WAEF board of directors and on the honorary Counselors Roundtable.  

The award was presented to a group of Stemilt Growers’ employees present at the event with lots of appreciation expressed by WAEF for the company and all of its employee volunteers.

Stemilt Growers’ offered this in response to the award, “What an honor it is for Stemilt to be recognized as WAEF’s group volunteer of the year! Our company has proudly supported WAEF since its inception and 25 years later, we are still inspired by WAEF’s efforts to support local students as they pursue their college degrees. Thank you to all of our team members who have volunteered their time to participate in WAEF activities in 2019 and over the years. Every WAEF volunteer plays a part in shaping the next generation of professionals while also keeping them connected to their tree fruit industry roots.”

Nate Rubio was recognized as Alumni Volunteer of the Year. He was a WAEF scholarship recipient while attending Eastern Washington University following his graduation from Brewster High School. Rubio’s degrees in business and human resources brought him back to the tree fruit industry where he is now the HR manager for Washington Fruit & Produce ranches.

It was shared that WAEF students have been fortunate to have Rubio on their side as a volunteer mentor and a member of the foundation’s scholarship selection committee. Rubio and his family established a scholarship through WAEF three years ago after his last sibling completed college to provide scholarship assistance to other Brewster graduates.

Rubio was thanked for his strong commitment and continued involvement in WAEF. He attended the event with his wife and young daughter. He shared how worthwhile the organization is to be part of and thanked those present for all they do.

Nate Fulton was selected as the Volunteer of the Year. Fulton has been involved with WAEF for many years helping with fundraising events, scholarship recipient selections, student mentorship and is a workshop presenter providing tips to students on establishing, cultivating and utilizing a network.  

Fulton worked to tie in WAEF students attending UW with the school’s alumni association providing additional support for this group of recipients.

In Fulton’s role as the agribusiness specialty practice director for PayneWest, he has hosted students in his office for networking events and is connected with current students and graduates on LinkedIn to help them boost their networks.

Appreciation was expressed to Fulton when he accepted the award. He shared how much it meant to him to get this opportunity to help young people and how inspired he is by the driven WAEF students.

Guests got to hear from one of this year’s scholarship recipients. Evelyn Carreto is a second-year WAEF scholarship recipient currently attending Big Bend Community College. Carreto is studying for a career in nursing. Her father is employed on an orchard near Royal City. She shared that her family’s life has evolved around the tree fruit industry and she’s proud of her family’s role in the industry.

Carreto learned about the scholarship through a training class WAEF offered on completing scholarship applications. She shared with those present that she is self-motivated and routinely pushes herself to achieve and move beyond her comfort zone. Her scholarship is a motivator to do even more.

Through WAEF Carreto was connected to a volunteer experience with Columbia Valley Community Health last summer. She worked in migrant camps assisting with basic health screening and care. She shared that the assistance and support, such as the volunteer work experience, has been part of what she has valued with her WAEF scholarship. With WAEF’s support, she is confident she will succeed, get the best education, become a nurse, and give back to her community.

Carreto thanked all of the volunteers for believing in her and her fellow WAEF students.

This year WAEF celebrates its 25th anniversary. Throughout the year events have been occurring recognizing donors and volunteers. In its history, WAEF has assisted over 2000 students attend college with $9 million in direct scholarship aid.

The Washington Apple Education Foundation is the charity of the tree fruit industry. Its mission is to impact lives through access to educational opportunities.