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A decade of giving: Okanagan Wine Festival Society marks 10 years of supporting students
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A decade of giving: Okanagan Wine Festival Society marks 10 years of supporting students

This spring, the Okanagan College Foundation gratefully acknowledges a decade of giving by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

Since 2006, the award fund established by the Society has meant more than $21,000 in bursaries to 21 students at Okanagan College.

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Awards Fund consists of three annual bursaries to students enrolled full time in each of the following disciplines: The Okanagan School of Business’ Business Administration Program – Marketing or Hospitality Tourism Management, Culinary Arts Program, and Advanced Culinary Arts Program.  Recipients must be permanent residents of the Okanagan region, in good academic standing and are selected on the basis of academic achievement and financial need.owfs 2016

“The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has a long history of giving back in our community and that generosity can certainly be seen at work at Okanagan College,” says Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler. “Over the past ten years, these bursaries have had a tremendous impact in helping young people pursue careers in business and food, wine, and tourism in the Okanagan. We are very grateful for the OWFS’ support and congratulate them on ten years of making a difference in the lives of students in the region.”

“The sustainability of our wine tourism industry depends in large part on the development of business and culinary skills,” says Bruce Hibbard, Chair, The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. “Our financial assistance is meant to assist those interested in a career in our growing and successful industry. If we can help provide affordable education, we will attract a stronger quality of educated professional whose skills will be very much in demand.”

“This award is really exciting and brings a lot of financial relief,” said 2016 spring recipient Alex Blumenschein. “It will take away stress and allow me to focus on school and finishing off my program as well as I possibly can. Together, the culinary management program and the additional business training offered by the Bachelor of Business Administration degree should put me in a good place to start out and hopefully be successful from the get-go in this industry.”

Okanagan Wine Festivals Awards Fund beneficiaries to date are:

Craig R. Hawkins
Nadine L. Howk
Michelle J. Tait
April K. Erickson
Kimberley M. Powell
Donna L. Schergevitch
Michael D. Nowicki
Dekker B. Mende
Andrew K. Edwards
Elliott J. Sarabura
Danika R. Lamoureux
Jessica M. Pommer
Mike D. Britch
Dixie-May D. Kunicky
Patricia F. Hyde
Sarah M. Maw
Thomas J. Arrowsmith
Melissa L. Hewitt
Geno M. Russo
Elizabeth K. Bulmer
Alexander W. Blumenschein
Bursary recipient, Jessica Pommer, who graduated in 2014 with an Advanced Culinary Arts degree and plans to complete her Red Seal Certification commented, “I am a cook working at BNA Brewing Co. My education at Okanagan College not only gave me the technical skills needed to go further in my chosen career but it also gave me the foundation and confidence needed to continue to improve my skills and know that I can succeed.”

“I couldn’t have made it through last semester without the bursary from Okanagan Wine Festival Society,” said Karen Bulmer, 2015 bursary recipient, who graduated from Okanagan College in August, with a Diploma in General Studies, emphasis on Food, Wine, and Tourism courses.  “It allowed me to continue my education at a time when funds were low. Bursaries like this mean so much to students – more than people sometimes realize. The support goes beyond books and tuition. It means that students like me can keep a roof over their head, have access to a vehicle, buy groceries – all the little life expenses that are tough to keep up with while in school.”

More information about these and other bursaries available to students at Okanagan College can be accessed at To learn more about the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, visit

Photo: (l to r): Blair Baldwin, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society (OWFS) General Manager and Okanagan College Instructor; Richelle Hasenhuendl, Administrator And Online Manager for OWFS; Alex Blumenschein; and Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation.