With the express goal of supporting Washington’s tree fruit industry, Tree Top Inc. is investing $250,000 in tree fruit research, teaching and extension programs at Washington State University.

“Tree Top’s participation in the Campaign for Washington State University is first and foremost about reinforcing the industry’s investment in WSU,” says Tree Top CEO Tom Stokes, referring to the tree fruit industry’s recent approval of a $27 million self-assessment to support WSU tree fruit programs. “It is our way of affirming our ongoing support of the industry and its long-term prosperity.”

Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, says the gift will help to further cement a margin of excellence in tree fruit programs.

“This investment underscores the industry’s commitment to the value of quality research, extension and teaching, and represents one of the first major contributions by the business partners of tree fruit growers throughout the state,” he says. Specifically, the funds will support research orchard development, modern fruit handling and storage equipment and facilities, and scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students working in areas related to the industry.

Tree Top is a grower-owned cooperative established in 1960 in Selah, Wash., and is recognized as one of the world’s leading producers of tree fruit products, such as juice, apple sauce, packaged apples, and dried ingredients.

Last December, WSU announced it is in a $1 billion comprehensive fundraising effort: The Campaign for Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas. To date, generous donors, businesses, and organizations have committed more than $638.2 million to the Campaign for WSU to increase support for the university’s students, faculty, and research and extension programs, and to leverage the University’s impact across the state, nation, and world.

Allied industry members have made additional gifts of over $500,000 in support of tree fruit research at WSU, and efforts will continue to secure an additional $10 million in gifts from other businesses associated with the tree fruit industry over the next year.