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Recent grad gives back with first career paycheck

Posted by Scott Weybright | August 10, 2020
By Julia Layland and Sarah Appel, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Recent CAHNRS Coug Neftali Garcia is making life a little easier for current students. The May 2020 WSU graduate donated his entire first paycheck back to the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF), which supported him through his college career.

Garcia holds a pennant saying "2020 Graduate" while wearing formal graduation robes.
Neftali Garcia

Neftali received the WAEF Scholarship his junior and senior year of college and talked about how he almost didn’t apply for it.

“I never applied, I never thought scholarships were for me,” he said. “I had applied to other scholarships and never got them before. I didn’t want to waste my time. But my roommates told me to just go for it.”

The Basin City, Wash. native is the first in his family to graduate from college. He double majored in the Fruit and Vegetable Management degree program (Landscape Nursery as well as Greenhouse Management) with a minor in Horticulture and with an organic agriculture certification.

The scholarship lifted a financial burden because Neftali had been working through the summers to afford living expenses during the school year. That work time was restricted when Neftali took summer courses. Neftali wishes he tried for scholarships earlier to help.

“Apply to a lot of scholarships, that was the one thing I regret not doing,” he said. “There are a lot of scholarships out there just waiting. I would say the best thing I would have done is apply, apply, apply, instead of doubting myself. The worst-case scenario is you apply for a lot and only get a few.”

College forces students to meet and talk to new people almost daily. Neftali explained how this impacted him in his pursuit of a degree, or multiple in his case, and how CAHNRS has opportunities for all who choose to get involved.

“Growing up I was never one of the people to really speak up, or anything,” he said. “But I met more people along the way at WSU and I felt more comfortable. I was stepping out of my comfort zone.”

Neftali advises prospective and current students to try everything once and decide from your experiences what you want to do.

“Go at it. Try to join all the groups they have, step out of your comfort zone,” he said. “You meet a lot of great people at CAHNRS and at WSU. I know I have. There is plenty of knowledge to learn from faculty and the people there.”

As a founding member of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resource and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Neftali said the club is a great resource for students from all backgrounds.

“I was there with all of my friends and my roommates, and just a bunch of people who were like, ‘yeah this is a great organization to begin here at WSU,’” he said. “It will benefit a lot of people who want to get into the industry.”

Neftali is currently employed with Zirkel Fruit after interning with the company since his sophomore year at WSU. This year is his first full-time position, and he hopes to work there for years to come.

Neftali is one of many people that inspired the CAHNRS Academic Programs unit to start a young alumni group called CAHNRS Legends. While this group is in the beginning stages of development, CAHNRS hopes it will allow recent graduates to unite and advocate for both themselves and the college where they received their education. The team will strive to connect with other alumni across the nation. They will represent CAHNRS at multiple events throughout local communities and will recruit prospective students and industry partners. Finally, they will celebrate their accomplishments together as CAHNRS Legends. Anyone interested in CAHNRS Legends, please contact Josh Davis at

Thank you, Neftali, for reflecting what it means to be a CAHNRS Legends through your generosity and commitment to future generations of CAHNRS Cougs. Congratulations on graduating from WSU and CAHNRS and all of your success.