Leo Garcia has been named 2017 Apple Citizen of the Year. The Apple Blossom Festival’s Queen Amy Sand and Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson surprised Leo with the award at The Certificate of Completion Graduation for Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Programs at Wenatchee Valley College.
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. Aside from teaching, he has run the Tree Fruit and Viticulture programs for the last ten years. During this time, he helped create seamless and lasting articulations with WSU and Yakima Valley Community College.
“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.
Leo will be honored at the All Service Club Luncheon on Wednesday, May 3, and will also ride in the Stemilt Growers Grand Parade on May 6.