Apr 18, 2024
Tree fruit honorees: IFTA recognizes individuals

The International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) has recognized individuals for their contributions to the horticulture industry.

At IFTA’s Feb. 14 business meeting and awards session during the organization’s 67th conference in Yakima, Washington, the association honored growers, horticulturists, researchers and Extension personnel for contributions to industry.

The Outstanding Researcher Award went to Stefano Musacchi, associate professor and endowed chair in tree fruit physiology/management in Washington State University’s (WSU) Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Washington.

David Gleason, Domex’s chief horticulturist, left, received the IFTA Outstanding Grower Award from IFTA’s Shane Johnson.
Johnson presented Columbia Fruit Packers’ Jeff Cleveringa the 2024 Industry Service Award. Photos by Doug Ohlemeier








Mauricio Frias, a Chilean horticultural consultant specializing in apples, pears, cherries and kiwifruit, received the Outstanding Extension Educator Award.

David Gleason, chief horticulturist at Domex Superfresh Growers, received the Outstanding Grower Award.

Jeff Cleveringa, area manager of Columbia Fruit Packers in Wenatchee, received the 2024 Industry Service Award.

Tom DeMarree of DeMarree Fruit Farm, Williamson, New York, was honored for his years of service on IFTA’s board of directors.

Hall of Fame inductee

The IFTA inducted Tom Auvil, a retired research horticulturist with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC), into its Hall of Fame.

In high school, Auvil, an Orondo, Washington, native who grew up in his family’s fruit company and area orchards, won the FFA State farmer award.

Tory Schmidt, left, of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, honored retired commission horticulturist Tom Auvil by inducting him into the IFTA’s Hall of Fame. .

A member of the Washington State Horticultural Association, now the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, since he was 16, Auvil was a board member and on the convention planning committee. He was also involved in the North Central Washington Fieldmans Association for 30 years and served on Tree Top’s board for three decades.

“Tom’s lifelong dedication has significantly shaped the landscape of the tree fruit industry,” said Tory Schmidt, award presenter and project manager for WTFRC.

“I would be hard-pressed to think of anyone who has made more significant impacts in so many different aspects of our industry, research, nursery, packinghouse, processing, rootstocks, on and on and on, the list goes on,” Schmidt said. “This guy knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things and he’s a huge resource to us.”

Auvil earned a Bachelor of Science in applied horticulture and horticultural business services from WSU in 1978. For 20 years, he was field services manager for Trout-Blue Chelan.

In 1985, Auvil joined IFTA and eventually became a board member, tour leader, research committee member and speaker.

“His engagement with IFTA has allowed him to travel the world learning from and sharing experiences with orchards of diverse backgrounds,” Schmidt said. “Tom’s commitment to learning and sharing knowledge with others remains unwavering. He continues to be a resource for others offering guidance and leading tours for industry growers. He is so willing to share With others the things he has seen and learned.” 

In his 17 years at the WTFRC, Auvil has evaluated spray technology, conducted irrigation trials, tested rootstocks and collaborated on other projects. His last position at North American Plants showcased his versatility and deep understanding of the industry, Schmidt said. “As he embarks on this path of retirement, Tom will always carry the heart of a tree fruit grower,” Schmidt said.

— Doug Ohlemeier, assistant editor



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