Scholarships have been an integral part of the Wallowa County Stockgrowers program for many years. This work to help students in need will continue.
The group’s annual scholarship fundraising dinner will be Tuesday, Jan. 23. The event is open to everyone.
Wallowa County Stockgrowers was incorporated more than 60 years ago with the State of Oregon to promote the welfare and interests of livestock producers.
Since then, the organization has continued to grow and expand its involvement including everything from members donating to local organizations to awarding multiple scholarships to Wallowa County youth.
Various ranchers frequently donate beef to the local food bank, helping keep their freezers stocked for those in need.
The group takes an active role in local government and politics, advocating for our agricultural community and supporting the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association in its litigation interests.
The Stockgrowers also donates money to the Western Resources Legal Center, which provides hands-on legal training on behalf of natural resource users to legal professionals and advocates.
The group has two separate types of scholarships. The heifer scholarship is unique in the fact that the winner or winners are provided with a live animal, according to volunteer Katie Howard.
“The Stockgrowers began this program by giving a high school FFA member a bred heifer or heifer calf,” Howard said. “This allows the winners to learn about raising livestock and use the net income from the heifer and its offspring to help pay for future education or endeavors.”
The program began with one bred heifer and later expanded to include one bred heifer and two heifer calves. “That allows a member from each FFA program –– Joseph, Enterprise and Wallowa –– to all benefit,” Howard said.
Recently, the heifer scholarship was able to increase again and is now offered to 4-H members in addition to FFA members. The number of animals awarded each year increased to 6.
“This is a vital program that allows kids to start their own business, generating income and building a knowledge base that will help them throughout their lives,” Howard said.
The scholarship is also supported by the Wallowa County Hay Growers who offer hay or money to purchase hay for the first winter. The Wallowa County Agricultural Resource Foundation is the nonprofit foundation under the Stockgrowers group that makes donations to the scholarship fund tax-deductible. The committee responsible for the foundation consists largely of past scholarship recipients.
Last year, the group awarded $6,000 to four applicants. Recipients may receive the scholarship for multiple years, providing they continue to meet the eligibility requirements.
Past recipients have studied in a wide range of areas including veterinary science, rangeland management, communications with a focus on agricultural journalism, fish and wildlife, business, animal science, law and even brewing and distilling.