Visitors in a private tour of Pomona Packing in Wolcott, N.Y., saw how the apple-sorting lines worked using new technology to streamline the sorting and packing process. Pomona started in 2010 to serve local apple growers, as well as New York Apple Sales, in the fresh apple arena.
( Amy Sowder )

The U.S. Apple Association has chosen its 2019 Young Apple Leaders.

In the program, the 21 Young Apple Leaders will network, learn and advocate for the issues impacting growers and packers in the $15 billion industry.

The 2019 class starts off the program March 13, by attending the apple association’s Capitol Hill Day. Joining U.S. Apple Association members from across the nation, the young leaders will meet with members of Congress to discuss issues affecting the future of the apple industry.    

“The 2019 Young Apple Leaders’ class is the largest in USApple history, and the industry is fortunate to have so many bright young people who want to be involved,” Jim Bair, association president and CEO, said in a news release.

The young leaders will tackle issues such as tariffs that are hurting export markets and field labor shortages.

“…What is being debated and decided in Washington today will have long-term implications for the next generation of apple producers, and they want to be in a position to help shape that policy,” Bair said in the release.

The program’s goal is to equip the next generation of U.S. apple growers and leaders with an understanding of federal regulatory and legislative apple issues and to provide an opportunity to learn from peers and apple leaders nationwide. Apple growers, and those in related businesses, who are at the start of their career up to the age of 35 are eligible to participate. 

The 2019 Young Apple Leaders are:

•Toni Lynn Adams, Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee, Wash.;

•Chester Allen, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.;

•Julie Ann Bolyard, Appalachian Orchard Co., Martinsburg, W.Va.;

•Alex Buck, Fruit Growers Marketing Association, Kent, Ohio;

•Joe Ferguson, Ferguson’s Orchards, Galesville, Wis.;

•Nicole Gordy, Sage Fruit Co., Yakima, Wash.;

•Carena Guise, Knouse Foods Cooperative Inc., Peach Glen, Pa.;

•Nicole Helms, California Apple Commission, Clovis, Calif.;

•Ben Heusinkvelt, Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, N.Y.;

•Logan Janin, Taggares Fruit Co., Burbank, Wash.;

•Garrett Joeckel, CMI Orchards, Wenatchee;

•Tyler Monson, Monson Fruit Co., Selah, Wash.;

•Aylin Moreno, McDougall & Sons Inc., Wenatchee;

•Jim Norkus, Norkus Orchards, Salem, Ohio;

•Steve Pennings, Pennings Farm Cidery, Warwick, N.Y.;

•Marianne Plath, Washington Fruit and Produce Co., Yakima;

•Kyle Rasch, Windy Ridge Orchards, Conklin, Mich.;

•Lex Roberts, Rice Fruit Co., Gardners, Pa.;

•Max Russell, Russell Farms Inc., Appleton, N.Y.;

•Jeremy Shank, Central Produce Sales Inc., Dowagiac, Mich.; and

•Chelsea Van Acker, New York Apples Sales Inc., Williamson, N.Y.

Program sponsors include: California Apple Commission, Columbia Fruit Packers, Domex Superfresh Growers, Farm Credit East, Hudson River Fruit Distributors, Knouse Foods Cooperative Inc., Michigan Apple Committee, New York Apple Sales Inc., Ohio Apples Marketing Program, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Sage Fruit, Wilbur-Ellis and Yakima Fresh.