Agriculture Faculty Award

WVC agriculture faculty receive wine grape industry award

Media Contact: Mary Watson, dean of workforce education, 509.682.6614, or Libby Siebens, community relations executive director, 509.682.6436 (Mon. – Thurs.)

Leo Garcia and Francisco Sarmiento
Leo Garcia (left) and Francisco Sarmiento (right) received the
2013 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers (WAWGG)
Industry Service Award. Photo provided by WAWGG.


Wenatchee Valley College agriculture faculty Leo Garcia and Francisco Sarmiento received the 2013 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers Industry Service award at the association's annual meeting in Kennewick.

Garcia and Sarmiento received the award for their dedication to education for industry employees. Both work in and have developed curricula for the WVC Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program (HOEEP), which increases the professional abilities of agriculture employees and their contributions to operations through greater understanding of horticulture science, current production technology, English language and communication skills, math and computer skills, and cultural and social systems. Garcia and Sarmiento work closely with industry and partner facilities, and orchard and vineyard owners, to provide students with hands-on training. They also schedule courses around busy seasons in order to be the least disruptive to their working students' schedules.

HOEEP was recently designated as an I-BEST program and, during its 21-year history, has received industry, state and national recognition. About 60 to 80 students graduate from HOEEP each year.

A press release from WAWGG stated that, "Garcia and Sarmiento work together to help the Hispanic population in the tree fruit industry reach their full potential through education."

"WVC is so fortunate to have such dedicated faculty as Leo and Francisco," said Mary Watson, WVC Dean of Workforce Education. "They have an amazing impact on their students and our regional agriculture industry. What Leo and Francisco do is such a fine example of what community colleges do best: transform lives through education and provide a valued, trained workforce that serves our communities."

"We want to share this recognition with the entire WVC family because it has been thanks to the college's support that these programs have been successful for so many years," said Sarmiento.  "We are also happy for the great support we have received from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers (WAWGG) and the wine grape industry."