Hells Canyon Mule Days, held every September for almost 40 years, celebrates both the heritage of Wallowa County, and some of its smartest and most stalwart residents: mules. At the annual Mule Days Banquet, May 14th, the Mule Days board of directors named long-time resident Julie Kooch as its 2019 Grand Marshal, and also recognized three smart, stalwart Wallowa County graduating high school seniors, honoring each of them with a $1000 scholarship for their college education.
“Mule Days’ very foundation is giving back to the community,” said board president Sondra Lozier. “We raise funds at our event, and over the years, Mule Days has provided more than $41,000 in college scholarships for Wallowa County students.”
Grand Marshal Julie Kooch is a third-generation resident of Wallowa County who grew up ranching and riding Joseph Creek Canyon. She taught school in Enterprise for more than 30 years, and her horse teams are legendary as well. Her books, My Life on Joseph Creek, and Riding the Canyons, bring her experiences in the canyons to life.
The Hells Canyon Mule Days Board of Directors awarded three $1000.00 Max Walker Memorial Scholarships in a strong field of applicants from around the county.
This year’s scholarships were granted to Wallowa High School senior Michael Diggins, son of Bruce and Cyndie Diggins. He will be attending Sheridan Community College in Sheridan, Wyoming, and plans to major in Rangeland Management. Joseph Charter School senior Emma Hite, daughter of James and Jill Hite, will be attending Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon. She plans to major in Elementary Education. Enterprise High School senior Deidre Schreiber, daughter of Debi and Charlie Warnock, will attend attend Oregon State University in the fall of 2020 and plans to major in Agricultural Education. Deidre is delaying her college plans for one year. At the Oregon FFA Convention in March Deidre was elected to serve as a state FFA officer (Secretary), the ultimate success in the FFA realm at the state level.
The Max Walker Scholarship program was conceived in 2005 to honor Max Walker, one of the founding members and ongoing supporters for the Mule Days event. The scholarships are funded by the Max Walker family, donations received at the Hells Canyon Mule Days Max Walker Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Saturday Night Pit B-B-Q, with additional contributions from businesses and individuals.