WENATCHEE — Jennifer Witherbee has been named 2020 Apple Citizen of the Year.

Apple Blossom Queen Tess Sparks and princesses Kaia St. John and Kelly Norland surprised Jennifer with the award at the Literacy Council Team Trivia and Auction fundraiser last week. The Apple Citizen of the Year award began in 1981 to honor the roots of the fruit industry and the leaders that make this the Wenatchee Valley the Apple Capital of the World.

Jennifer has been executive director of the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) since 2001. The foundation was formed just over 25 years ago and under her direction WAEF has experienced exponential growth. With her guidance and the generosity of the region’s tree fruit industry, the foundation has supported more than 2,000 students, providing over $9 million in scholarships. Many of the students were first-generation college students.

Jennifer worked with WAEF on proposing the creation of a Washington state license plate recognizing the importance of the apple industry in Washington state. The proposal passed and each sale of the plate will benefit students through WAEF. Washington Apples license plates will be available July 1.

In addition, Jennifer is starting her sixth year as a coach with the Girls on the Run program. In this capacity, she serves as a role model to pre-teen girls and creates lessons which support emotional, mental and social health through fun activities and running exercises.

She was raised in Chelan, and now resides in Wenatchee with her husband, Jay. Her family (Armbruster and Peebles) has been involved in the tree fruit industry for multiple generations as orchard owners and employees of the industry.

Jennifer is an active community member. She’s an advisory board member of the Literacy Council of Chelan and Douglas Counties, a member of the Yakima Pomological Club and an Association of Fundraising Professionals committee member. In the past, she’s also served on the board of the City of Chelan Library and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Advancement Northwest. From 2008 through 2012, she was a committee member of the Washington Secretary of State Charities Advisory Council and served as chairman in 2012.

Darci Christoferson is administrator of the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival. She reigned as queen of the 1985 festival.