Meet USApple’s Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders

USApple young apple leaders class of 2015In its sixth year, USApple’s Young Apple Leaders Program mentors the next generation of American apple growers and leaders. These young leaders will be the future decision-makers in their businesses, and communities, and at USApple.

Jessa Allen usapple

Jessa Allen

The Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders met March 18-20 in Washington, D.C. They joined the USApple Board of Directors and other apple industry leaders for Capitol Hill Day. The Young Apple Leaders talked with their representatives and senators about critical apple business issues, such as the need for a stable, legal agricultural workforce.


Meet this year’s Young Apple Leaders:

  • Douglas Alt; Alt Brothers Inc.; Comstock Park, MI
  • David Benner, II; El Vista Orchards Inc.; Fairfield, PA
  • Ryan Dietrich; Ridgeview Orchards; Conklin, MI
  • Karen Druschel; Dawson’s Orchards; Enon Valley, PA
  • Leah Dunn; CPC International Apple Co.; Tieton, WA
  • Ryan Fernandes; Sun Rich Fresh Foods Inc.; Corona, CA
  • Ben Gammie; Quarry Hill Orchards; Berlin Heights, OH
  • Brooke Gammie; Quarry Hill Orchards; Berlin Heights, OH
  • Eliza Greenman; Legacy Fruit Trees; Dugspur, VA
  • Brett Kast; Kast Farms Inc.; Albion, NY
  • Sarah Kennedy; Belding Fruit Storage; Belding, MI
  • Jake Monson; Monson Fruit Company LLC; Selah, WA
  • Joe Nuciforo; Indian Ladder Farms Inc.; Altamont, NY
  • Patrick O’Hara; OHF Orchards LLC; Mountain Top, PA
  • Hannah Poush; Cider Works Farms; Orondo, WA
  • Peter Wolfe; Rice Fruit Company; Gardners, PA

They gained an understanding of how federal regulatory and legislative issues directly affect their apple business. The days were also be spent networking with peers and learning from apple leaders from around the country.

Here are some comments from some of the young leaders from this year’s class:

“I am very much looking forward to meeting with the representatives in Washington D.C. and discussing the issues we as an industry face as a whole. The Young Apple Leader program is a great opportunity and I am very thankful to have been one of the few selected.”
— Brett Kast

“As a Young Apple Leader, I am looking forward to networking and establishing a working relationship with industry professionals and other Young Apple Leaders throughout the various production regions. Capitol Hill Day will be a great opportunity to learn about the current issues and how they are addressed in the areas of legislation, food safety, education, and nutrition. Furthermore, I hope to gain a larger understanding of the complexity of the USApple organization.”
— Sarah Kennedy

“I’m looking forward to networking with other apple packers and finding out why and how they do what they do. I’m also looking forward to talking to growers about their experiences with different GAP and H-2A programs and how it’s affecting their day to day.” — Leah Dunn

“Participating in the Young Apple Leaders program is a real privilege, and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity. I know that Rice Fruit Company has certainly benefited from the hard work of others who have ensured that the apple industry’s voice is heard in policy matters, and I hope that being a Young Apple Leader this year will allow me to contribute to those efforts.”
— Peter Wolfe

This program would not be possible without the support of our sponsors: BelleHarvest Sales, Inc.; Farm Credit East; Knouse Foods Cooperative, Inc.; Michigan Apple Committee; New England Apple Association; New York Apple Sales; Northwest Farm Credit; Ohio Apple Marketing Program; and Tree Top, Inc.

If you are interested in becoming a Young Apple Leader, or know someone who would be a strong candidate, applications for the 2016 Class of Young Apple Leaders will be available in October.

Leave a Reply

Avatar for Vincent P. Colandrea Sr, Vincent P. Colandrea Sr, says:

Ladies & Gentlemen I want to CONGRATULATE YOU ALL Having been raise on an fruit farm: of apples, pears, peaches, cherries, grapes & some veggies back in the Hudson Valley of New York. My Grandfather purchased the farm around 1910 when the came over from Italy. It was a great place to grow up. I think of all the work that goes into fruit growing was, Trimming & carting off the brush I hated the most. It was cold. when ya got smacked by a branch it real hurt. Our trees where tall, 20-25′, a lot of pickers was afraid of the tall ladders & how to place them in the tree. At 80 yrs. young I’m still farming. But we farm with NO CHEMICALS, We are Organic Chemical Free, NON-GMO, GM & GE growers of fruit, veggie’s & cut flowers. This is just my opinion of course, BUT I think the USDA, FDA & EPA should be shut down & let farmers alone. Back in the ’30s we only sprayed maybe 4-6 times per season, & that Ladies & Gentlemen was with Lime & Sulfur used as a Fungicide because we had to much rain. How much 2-4D & DICAMBA are you spraying today? What’s happening to your wildlife, biological soil life, your water supply & of course you life. The problem is that we have gotten away from letting Mother Nature take care of Mother Nature & large chemical companies are making a killing & laughing all the way to the bank. Good Luck & God Bless.
Thank you – Vince

Avatar for Susan Brown Susan Brown says:

Congratulations! You represent the future of our apple industry and the information you will gain from this program, the connections you will make within the group, and with our elected representatives will benefit you, your operations and our industry. It is wonderful to see such diverse operations and regions represented. Thank you for your participation in this program. Wishing you all the best.