WENATCHEE — GWATA will host an entrepreneurial panel at the LocalTel Communications Event Center at Pybus Public Market on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The panel features four professionals who are making waves in the agriculture industry. This event is presented by Overcast Law Offices, PS and supported by OfficeTECH.

The panel will be moderated by Ryan Smolinsky, attorney at Overcast Law and GWATA board member, and will cover topics such as the new Cosmic Crisp apple variety, apple picking robots, insect-rearing technology and other innovative horticultural solutions.

After the panel, attendees can enjoy networking and a hosted happy hour in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The panelists

Dr. Virginia Emery, Founder and CEO of Beta Hatch

Virginia is a world leader in insect farming, pioneering the sector in the United States and building Beta Hatch from the ground up. Virginia has 13+ years of experience with insects, a PhD from UC Berkeley in entomology, and is a leading insect entrepreneur. Beta Hatch is industrializing insect production for animal feed, to meet the $8B protein gap expected by 2025.

Dr. Rob Blakey, research and development manager at Stemilt Growers

Blakey is a horticultural scientist, currently working as R&D Manager at Stemilt Growers. He leads a team of scientists working on new variety evaluations, food safety, and innovative horticultural solutions for apples, pears, and cherries. He is passionate about making a difference in the world, especially in fruit production and food waste.

JJ Dagorret, owner/president of Automated Ag

Automated Ag Systems began in 2007 as a family owned and operated business. Key to the companies success is Dagorret’s knowledge and ability to design and build the equipment produced by Automated Ag Systems. With a background in custom harvesting, equipment manufacturing, and also as a grower, he knew that the industry was moving rapidly forward.

Dr. Kate Evans, interim director of WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Evans leads WSU’s apple scion and pear rootstock breeding programs which released the Cosmic Crisp brand apple recently to the Washington apple industry. She is currently also the interim director of WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, based in Wenatchee, which also houses programs on entomology, postharvest pathology, tree fruit physiology, postharvest systems, orchard management/production systems, organic/sustainable agriculture, small farms and tree fruit extension.

The event is free for GWATA members, $15 for nonmembers. Tickets can be purchased at gwata.org.

Jenny Rojanasthien is executive director of the Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance.