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Stemilt’s late founder honored posthumously by Ag Forestry

Stemilt founder Tom Mathison was honored posthumously by the Washington Agriculture & Forestry Education Foundation, more commonly known as Ag Forestry, with the 2011 Stu Bledsoe Leadership Award.

Stu Bledsoe was a well-known agriculture leader and served as the executive director of the Washington Forest Protection Association from 1978 to 1988.

Mr. Mathison became the first person to be honored with this award posthumously. He was recognized during the May 6 graduation ceremony for Ag Forestry Class 32, of which his relative and Stemilt grower, Noel Mathison, was a graduating member.

Ag Forestry is a leadership development program founded in 1978 for adults working within and connected to Washington state’s agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. Every 18 months, a new group of selected participants start attending regular seminars throughout the state in order to develop their leadership skills and understand the key issues facing the industry.

As graduation nears, the class nominates and then selects one industry member to receive the Stu Bledsoe Leadership Award. Abigail Snyder, executive director of Admyn.com in Wenatchee and Class 32 graduate, nominated Mr. Mathison.

According to Ag Forestry, Tom Mathison was selected as this year’s award recipient for his “lifetime of leadership and commitment to demonstrating the value of working together to the betterment of our natural resources.”

Lavonne van Someren Gréve, Mr. Mathison’s daughter, accepted the award on his behalf.

Mr. Mathison founded Stemilt Growers in 1964 with the goal of delivering returns on the land by building consumer demand for fresh fruit. He spent most of his life working to advance the tree fruit industry and was a driving force in bringing Washington fruit to the global marketplace. Mr. Mathison died in 2008 at the age of 82.