In 2014, Bethel High School student Sloane McGowan received one of the scholarships awarded to students through the Washington State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Scholarship Program.
That academic scholarship made a huge difference in her ability to attend Arizona State University and major in journalism with minors in travel development and management.
Scholarships have been awarded through the Fair for the last 25 years, said Beth Brooks, manager of fund development with the Washington State Fair Foundation.
“When the foundation was founded in 2007, the Fair passed the stewardship to the Fair Foundation and now the Blue Ribbon Scholarship program is statewide,” Brooks said.
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This year, $100,000 in scholarships will be awarded. Since the scholarship program began in 1991, more than $l million in scholarship funds have been distributed.
Scholarships are open to any resident of Washington state.
Dale Mitchell was asked to join the scholarship committee seven years ago and brings with him a lifetime of experience in education. He was on the Puyallup Schools Foundation for 28 years and served as principal of Puyallup High School for 16 years.
“I spent my whole career — 38-plus years — in education,” he said.
The process of awarding scholarships is a long one, Mitchell said.
After applications are received, members of the committee pour through them.
“Let’s say we get 100 applications. We separate them out according to scholarships and pass them around to members of the reading board. Everyone has a chance to look them all over, and then we break them down to those that would really stand out,” he said.
Although it is a lot of work, the committee has an effective process for making those important decisions.
Kristina Stambaugh-Coons, also a member of the Fair Foundation, recently joined the scholarship committee.
“I was asked to join the Fair Foundation Board in the fall of 2014, and having grown up in Puyallup, the Fair has always been a big part of my family’s traditions,” she said.
“Our students are our future innovators, teachers and policymakers. It is essential that we support their future dreams and educational goals,” Stambaugh-Coons said.
The Blue Ribbon Scholarship Program is primarily funded through its annual Roundup Auction, held each year in August.
It meant a lot for McGowan to receive one of the Blue Ribbon Scholarships.
“I felt very grateful that I was being recognized for all the time I put into my high school academics,” she said.
Information about the Blue Ribbon Scholarship Program can be found online at www.thefair.com/foundation.
Blue Ribbon Scholarship Program
▪ Fair Chance Scholarships (14 awarded): $3,000 each; open to all students in Washington (graduating seniors, adult learners, current college students); minimum GPA of 2.7 required; must be employed, volunteering or participating in school-sponsored activity eight hours/month, on average.
▪ Heritage Scholarships (5 awarded): $3,000 each; open to graduating seniors from Puyallup, Emerald Ridge, Rogers, Sumner and Bonney Lake high schools; minimum of 2.7 GPA required; must be employed, volunteering or participating in school-sponsored activity eight hours/month, on average.
▪ College Access Program Scholarships (2 awarded): $2,500 each; one award for participants in either MDC’s College Bound (Tacoma and Franklin Pierce school districts) or TRiO Talent Search (Tacoma and Bethel school districts).
▪ Communities in Schools (1 awarded): $2,500; awarded to Student Citizen of the Year.
▪ Daffodil Queen’s Scholarship (1 awarded): $5,000; awarded to Daffodil Queen.