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Okanagan Wine Festivals Society: A Decade of Giving

Okanagan Wine Festivals Society Celebrates 10th year of Bursary for Okanagan College Students

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – APRIL 19, 2016: This spring, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is delighted to announce that 2016 marks ten years of supporting bursaries through the Okanagan College Foundation.   Since 2006, the Society has granted over $21,000 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.

“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:

  1. Craig R. Hawkins
  2. Nadine L. Howk
  3. Michelle J. Tait
  4. April K. Erickson
  5. Kimberley M. Powell
  6. Donna L. Schergevitch
  7. Michael D. Nowicki
  8. Dekker B. Mende
  9. Andrew K. Edwards
  10. Elliott J. Sarabura
  11. Danika R. Lamoureux
  12. Jessica M. Pommer
  13. Mike D. Britch
  14. Dixie-May D. Kunicky
  15. Patricia F. Hyde
  16. Sarah M. Maw
  17. Thomas J. Arrowsmith
  18. Melissa L. Hewitt
  19. Geno M. Russo
  20. Elizabeth K. Bulmer
  21. 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.”



Suggested tweet: A Decade of giving by @OKWineFests: Over $20,000 donated to @OkanaganCollege students #BCWine #Okanagan

About Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is responsible for the development of the wine tourism sector in the interior of British Columbia. It is well known for producing two annual Okanagan Wine Festivals in spring to celebrate the bud break and in fall to celebrate the grape harvest. Its Winter Okanagan Wine Festival is run in partnership with Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. It is also responsible for Signature Wine Events and two annual wine judging competitions including the British Columbia Best of Varietal Awards and the British Columbia Wine Awards. www.thewinefestivals.com


About Okanagan College Foundation

The Okanagan College Foundation supports students on their way to becoming business leaders, tradespeople, health professionals and other employees and entrepreneurs needed throughout our region. www.okanagan.bc.ca


For media inquiries, please contact:

Lori Pike-Raffan, Public Relations, Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

[email protected] / 604.808.6655


Tyler Finley

Campaign Communications & Marketing Specialist

Advancement & Alumni and Okanagan College Foundation

[email protected] / 1-888-650-6968


High resolution photos available upon request.

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The Okanagan Wine Festival Society is made up of a number of Okanagan wineries and tourism related businesses. Every member is recognized as an outstanding service or product supplier in their related industry.

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Every year the Best of Varietal Wine Awards recognizes the best wines in B.C., using a panel of esteemed judges. This year we were privileged to have a diverse group of wine experts from across the country join us and participate in the competition.

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