DUNK THE SCIENTIST — The most popular event of WSU IAREC’s 100th birthday celebration was easily the dunk tank fundraiser for local non-profits. Marcus Keller, WSU Viticulture scientist, took the first shift, purple balloons and all, to raise funds for a local animal shelter.

PROSSER — Under mostly blue skies with temps just under 70 degrees, hundreds of regional community members drove to the unincorporated area of Whitstran, 5.2 miles outside Prosser, for a once in a lifetime, 100th birthday celebration, on Saturday, Oct. 5.

The birthday recipient wore birthday finery, in shades of hay bales, weather stations, dunk the scientist tank, art, crafts tables, freebies, measure the potatoes along with food and Prosser area vendors. The Washington State University Research Station, also known as IAREC (pronounced eye-rack, stands for Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center), shone from end to end. The grounds manicured, the staff and volunteers in matching shirts, exuding cheer and information. It was a day to remember.

The planning for IAREC’s birthday centennial was months in the planning. Jamie Meeks, Executive Assistant to the Naidu A. Rayapati, Professor Director of IAREC, and Assistant Dean for WSU Tri-Cities, said the idea for the celebration gala was to “. . . create a most fun family celebration, something for everyone.” Meeks said the planning came from a cross section of employees, community members and WSU Cougar alumni who share enthusiasm for the work and legacy of the research station.

While the Saturday event was open to all, a formal by invitation only dinner was held on Wednesday, Oct. 2, for past and current IAERC employees.

Easily, the most popular event of the day, was Dunk the Scientist. A host of WSU scientists volunteered for a short stint in the dunk tank. Onlookers paid $5 for three balls to try to dunk each scientist. All proceeds generated during each stint were earmarked for a non-profit of the scientist’s choice. Butch the Cougar, the official WSU mascot, was in the house and dunked Marcus Keller. Keller, WSU-IAREC Professor/Chateau Ste. Michelle Distinguished Professor in Viticulture, who donned purple balloons for the occasion.

Deb Brumley can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email DBrumley@sunnysidesun.com

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