Previous Posts(9)
Infusions unveils new Okanagan-inspired menu and summer hours
Penticton Child Care Centre named one of Canada’s most sustainable buildings
Alumnus returning to OC as Vice President
OC apprentice builds his way onto the podium at Skills Canada Nationals
Car Dealers Rev Up Support for OC Automotive and Business Students
Enactus OC project transforms elementary students into authors in the South Okanagan
Summertime activities and learning opportunities still available for Kelowna kids
College’s Vernon Trades Centre gets a boost from Kalamalka Rotary
Graduation inspires College student to think locally and globally
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Infusions unveils new Okanagan-inspired menu and summer hours
Okanagan College Media Release

Infusions June 2018Those in search of a new go-to patio to sip Okanagan wines and savour locally-inspired bites will find their table at Infusions Restaurant at the College’s Kelowna campus this summer.

Starting on Friday, June 22, the restaurant will be open Tuesday – Friday, serving up an appetizer-style light menu from 2 – 4 p.m. and dinner starting at 5 p.m. (last seating at 7 p.m.).

The menu was carefully crafted with input from those who will be cooking it – the College’s Culinary Arts students.

“This year marks the first time the restaurant has been open over the summer months, which is very exciting for our students,” explains Culinary Arts instructor Chef Mike Barillaro. “It inspired us and challenged us to get creative in crafting the perfect Okanagan summer menu, one that really showcases all the wonderful local ingredients of the season.”

The new summer hours build on a model that has benefitted the College’s culinary students – and local diners – for years.

“From menu design to prep to cooking, Infusions offers our chefs-in-training first-hand experience in a fast-paced, real-world kitchen. The menu will change slightly over the summer, as students are learning new things as part of the curriculum. They take tremendous pride in ensuring our guests have a great experience,” says Barillaro.

Also just in time for summer and the new menu is a new patio set-up that will enhance the restaurant’s already picturesque view of the College’s courtyard.

“I always like to remind people that we have a bright, summery space here on campus,” adds Barillaro. “It’s a bit of a hidden gem, in Kelowna’s patio scene.”

Another benefit for diners? Infusions is one of the few restaurants in the valley that doesn’t charge corkage fees.

“You can bring in your own B.C. VQA wine and have it opened at your table at no charge,” explains Barillaro. “Of course, the restaurant also has a great selection of local wines, and our fantastic staff is more than happy to help you select and pair the perfect wines with your meal.”

Apart from closures for curriculum purposes from July 30 – Aug. 17 and Sept. 24 – 28., the restaurant will be open and the new summer-hours will be in effect until Sept. 21, when regular lunch and dinner service will resume.

Reservations are recommended. To find the new menu, visit To book a table call 250-862-5455 or


Penticton Child Care Centre named one of Canada’s most sustainable buildings
Okanagan College Media Release

The list of green accolades continues to grow for the Little Learners Child Care Centre at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus – it was recently recognized as one of Canada’s most sustainable new buildings.OC Little Learners Daycare Dec 2017

The child care facility, which opened its doors last September, picked up the Institutional (Small) Award at the 2018 Canadian Green Building Awards, presented by Sustainable Architecture & Building (SAB) Magazine announced in Toronto on June 5.

Okanagan College’s project was one of nine lauded as examples of the most advanced sustainably-designed buildings in Canada for 2018.

The jury, made up of architects and sustainable design experts, had this to say about the child care facility: “As a structure designed to the rigorous Passive House standard, this building is notable for the beauty and simplicity of its environmental systems. The building relies mostly on local materials and very economical passive design strategies.”

The facility is built to meet Passive House principles, a performance-based, voluntary, international construction standard for energy-efficient buildings that developed in Germany in the 1990s.

Designed by Penticton’s Landform Architecture Ltd. and built by Ritchie Custom Homes, the facility has already garnered two other awards since it opened last fall.

Last December, it became the first Passive House certified child care centre in the country. It was also named a Silver Finalist at the 2018 Tommie Awards in the category of Best Environmental Initiative in Construction (Residential or Commercial).

“Okanagan College is committed to being a leader in sustainability and to raising the bar for ourselves with each new facility we build,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are very proud to be recognized among the institutions – and the stunning new and renovated facilities – that made the list.”

The project was made possible by a $500,000 investment by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and support from donors throughout the area. The Okanagan College Foundation embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise $700,000. More information and ways to support is available at

The full list of 2018 Canadian Green Building winners is available at


Alumnus returning to OC as Vice President
Okanagan College Media Release

Curtis Morcom left Okanagan University College with a Business Administration Degree in 2004. He will return this August as Okanagan College’s Vice President, Employee and Corporate Services.Curtis Morcom June 2018

Morcom, a Chartered Professional Accountant, graduated from OUC’s Bachelor of Business Administration with honours the year before OUC transformed to become Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan (2005). The Business Administration program has carried on as one of Okanagan College’s two degree programs. He says the learner-centred educational programming and practical work co-op experience gained while at OUC has left him with an abiding respect for the College, its programs, and deep community partnerships.

“I have watched over the past years and am very impressed by how the College has grown and integrated with the communities it serves. And, of course, I am always proud to tell people I received my BBA from OUC.”

“Curtis’ experience in the public and private sectors, as well as a demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, convinced us he would be a great fit with the College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our search for the position drew applicants from across the country, but it was fortunate that we found the best candidate in Kelowna, and even more remarkable that we can count him as an alumnus.”

Since 2010, Morcom has been Director of Integrated Planning and Chief Budget Officer at UBC Okanagan and also recently served as a member of the UBC Board of Governors. Morcom has more than 20 years of senior management experience across a range of industries including, education, health, professional services, leasing and land development. At 21 years of age, Morcom was the youngest person to be awarded a franchise agreement of a leading national retailer. By the age of 25, Morcom oversaw operations of 26 retail locations throughout Manitoba. Morcom has also obtained a Chartered Director (C.Dir) designation through McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada. Morcom and family have called the Okanagan home for the past 17 years.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the entire team at the College. They have accomplished many remarkable things and have established a great reputation within the region and nationally since I finished my degree. It is an honour to serve in this position and have the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the College.”


OC apprentice builds his way onto the podium at Skills Canada Nationals
Okanagan College Media Release

For his display of skill and precision under pressure, an Okanagan College-trained carpenter was recognized among the best in the country at Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC).

Lukas Pfob June 2018Lukas Pfob, a Level 4 Carpenter apprentice, brought home the Silver medal in the Carpentry competition at SCNC, which took place in Edmonton on June 4-5.

SCNC is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country. This year more than 500 competitors from across Canada made the trip to Edmonton to put their nerve and know-how to the test in more than 40 skilled trade and technology categories.

“The whole experience from start to finish is mind-blowing,” says Pfob, who is employed by Team Construction Management in Kelowna. “It’s very much like the Olympics but for trades. Until you’ve seen it, you really can’t appreciate how hard the competitors work. It challenges you in so many ways.”

It was Pfob’s second chance to seize the challenge at Nationals. Last year, he notched a strong showing but fell short of the podium in Winnipeg. He punched his ticket to Edmonton, and another shot at Nationals, with a gold medal-winning performance at the Provincial competition in Abbotsford back in April.

His nationals test this year? It was no child’s play.

After the fanfare of the opening ceremonies subsided, Pfob and his fellow competitors had just 12 hours over the course of two-days to construct an intricate play house from scratch. And while he says the time constraint was nerve-racking, Pfob also had to overcome the challenge of working almost elbow-to-elbow with the competition.

“Looking up and seeing the best apprentices from the other provinces and territories working a few feet away is tough,” he says, “but I knew from my experience last year – and from all the work I’ve put in with my instructors – that I had to ignore them and stay as focused as I could on the task at hand.”

That focus – and the years of preparation at the College and on the jobsite – paid off.

“When I found out I came in second, I was ecstatic,” says Pfob. “These truly are some of the best carpenters in Canada, so I take a lot of pride in this showing. I’m very grateful to all my instructors and everyone who has helped me along the way.”Pfob, Vanlerberg, Mclaren June 2018

The medal was Pfob’s first at nationals and fifth overall at Skills Canada competitions, including consecutive gold medals at Provincials the past two years.

“We’re immensely proud of Lukas for his achievements at Skills Canada competitions this year – and over the years – and equally so for the fine example he’s setting for his fellow students and apprentices at the College,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

Pfob recently completed his Level 4 apprenticeship at the College. Prior to jetting off to Edmonton, he delivered the student address at the Trades Commencement ceremony at the Kelowna campus last month.

“Every instructor I have had, from high school to 4th year at the College, has pushed me to greater levels of success,” explains Pfob. “I hope one day to be able to do the same. I’d love eventually to have the opportunity to teach, to inspire others to push themselves to always keep learning, to take pride in their field and generally just strive to be the best they can be.”

Pfob was joined by two other Okanagan College students at Nationals. Vernon’s Bradley Vanlerberg competed in the Aerospace Technology category and Kelowna’s Conner McLaren competed in the Automotive Service category. All three students won gold at the provincial Skills Canada competition on April 18.


Car Dealers Rev Up Support for OC Automotive and Business Students
Okanagan College Media Release

New Car Dealers_1 June 2018The New Car Dealers Foundation of British Columbia is helping power success with $10,000 annually in new awards for Trades and Business students at Okanagan College.

The annual awards ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 each will support students in the Automotive Service Technician apprenticeship and foundation programs, plus the Business Administration program.

“The demand for skilled automotive service technicians and business professionals is increasing throughout the automotive sector,” says Blair Qualey,
President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C.

“We see partnerships with training institutions like Okanagan College as integral to service delivery and the prosperity of our member dealerships.”

There are 29 new car dealer members in the Okanagan including six dealerships operated by Sentes Automotive.

Adam Rich, Sentes Automotive Group General Manager, says he hopes the awards will encourage more young people to enter the automotive industry and stay local after graduation.

“We’re always looking for more technicians. We know the value of the Okanagan College program, we’ve hired grads in the past, and we’re thrilled to support it,” says Rich.

“We are very grateful to the New Car Dealers Foundation for this investment in our students’ futures,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation. “The creation of these new awards will both help attract and retain students, ultimately connecting them to a vibrant and expanding industry, especially in the Okanagan.”

“These awards are unique in that they will open doors for trades students while also supporting the next generation of business professionals pursuing careers in the automotive sector.”

The New Car Dealers Foundation presented its first set of awards in Kelowna in April.

Among the recipients was Paul Whitlock, a student in the Automotive Service Technician program. Whitlock plans to complete his Red Seal Endorsement and then go on to business school.

“This award will make it easier for me to progress through my apprenticeship with less stress about being able to afford it all,” says Whitlock. “I can't thank the donors enough for this very generous gift. It will help me achieve my dream.”

The New Car Dealers Association of B.C. represents more than 390 New Car Dealers throughout the province, who generate more than $16 billion in economic activity, pump $2.9 billion net GDP directly into B.C.’s economy, and employ more than 30,000 high paying jobs in 54 communities they serve.

For more information on the new training hub visit


Enactus OC project transforms elementary students into authors in the South Okanagan

A class of Grade 4 students at Queen’s Park Elementary in Penticton are some of the region’s newest published authors thanks to a new initiative by Okanagan College’s Enactus team.enactus pen news

Carrie-Ann McAlpine and Christie Reid, both business students at the Penticton campus, recently spent three days in the classroom working with students to write and illustrate their own stories.

“We wanted to develop a fun, hands-on way for the students to think about reading and writing – and something that ultimately could help teachers make literacy more exciting and tangible,” says McAlpine. “Our aim was to transport them into the mindset of an author.”

The theme, fittingly, was transportation. Over the course of three days, students learned about transportation – past and present – and were tasked with working in groups to envision and write about future modes of transport.

And while the College students may have been used to group work, they quickly found out it was a new experience for their elementary school subjects.

“For many of the students, it was their first group project ever, or the first of this scale where they worked together over a few days,” explains McAlpine. “So it turned out to be a great learning experience on the literacy side of things, and it also challenged them to work together, listen to each other, and make decisions as a group.”

Before stepping into the classroom, McAlpine and Reid found a way to make the students feel more like the real-world authors they know and look up to.

“We approached the Kiwanis Club of Penticton which agreed to cover the cost of professionally printing the students’ stories,” explains McApline. “When we brought in the published works, the students eyes lit up. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of, as a student or otherwise.”

Like the students they mentored, McAlpine and Reid have now turned their attention to imaging what the future could look like. They hope to grow the project and be able to replicate the writing and publishing experience for students in more classrooms and schools. They’re also looking into how the students’ published works could be sold to provide schools and community organizations such as Kiwanis with a new fundraising tool.

“This project really embodies what Enactus Okanagan College is all about,” notes Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, a professor with the College’s School of Business and a faculty advisor for Enactus OC.

“Carrie-Ann and Christie took a simple idea and found a way to bring it to life in the community to benefit others and foster new collaborations and opportunities. It’s been wonderful to watch how quickly they realized their vision and the positive impact it has had on students in the pilot project.”


Summertime activities and learning opportunities still available for Kelowna kids
Okanagan College Media Release

CampOC 2018From Minecraft to cooking camps to flight academy, Okanagan College’s Camp OC is back in July with a broad selection of educational day camps designed to keep kids busy while after camp care offers flexibility for parents at the end of the day.

Camp OC, coordinated by the College’s Continuing Studies department, offers week-long educational day camps full of interactive experiences, fun and adventure for youth.

Back for its 14th year in Kelowna, camps will once again be offered for students in Grades 2-12. Parents can choose from a range of camps including Minecraft programming, wood and metal fabrication camps, LEGO building, fashion and cooking camps, website design and flight academy camps, among others.

The sessions are a hit with Mia Salmon and her children, who have attended multiple camps. “The courses are packed full of fun things to do. Parents can be confident that their kids will come away with new friends, useful ideas and skills,” says Salmon.

After a successful launch last year, camp organizers are once again offering optional after camp care for students who will be entering Grades 2-6 this fall. With camps running 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, parents once again have the option of enrolling their child in weeklong after camp care where qualified staff will engage them in activities until 5 p.m. The cost ranges from $24-30 for the week.

Camp OC is also a chance for high school students to boost their resumes and chalk up volunteer hours required for graduation. And with more than 100 scheduled camps in Kelowna alone this year, youth volunteers are still needed to fill some key summer camp roles.

“Volunteering at Camp OC gives high schoolers some of the required credits they need toward graduation,” explains Helena Jordo, Camp OC Coordinator for Kelowna. “We track and report back all volunteer hours to the school districts and it’s a great way for students thinking about attending the College to spend time on campus and learn their way around.”

Last year more than 1,700 students took part in more than 140 different camps as part of Camp OC across the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Revelstoke. The program has seen incredible growth since it launched in the summer of 2004, then with only 70 kids enrolled in about 10 camps.

More information about Camp OC is available at


College’s Vernon Trades Centre gets a boost from Kalamalka Rotary

Kalamalka Rotary has stepped forward with a major gift to support amenities for students in the new Trades Centre under construction at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.Kalamalka Rotary ver 1

“Kalamalka Rotary is proud to contribute $25,000 from the club’s Annual Dream Auction to support the College’s new Trades Training Centre,” says Club President Neil Perry. “We’re pleased to be able to support a space that will enhance the facilities available at the College, help to grow a skilled workforce in the North Okanagan and meet the increasing demand for skilled trades workers in the area.”

The club’s support will specifically help the College outfit men’s and women’s locker rooms in the $6.2 million, 13,450 square-foot facility, which is slated to open in August.

The gift also marks a significant milestone in the fundraising campaign for the project.

“Kalamalka Rotary’s support brings us over the $915,000 mark and within $85,000 dollars of our goal,” notes Michael Tindall, Chair of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. “We’re deeply grateful for all the support we’ve received – it’s come from individuals, it’s come from families, businesses large and small, and with just a couple months left to go before students step into the building, we’re confident the good people of Vernon will help us meet our goal.”

The new building will provide space for approximately 150 students per year to train in more than a half-dozen programs, including Carpentry, Electrical and Welding. It will help the College deliver specialized offerings like Aboriginal Trades Training and Women in Trades Training, as well as contract training to meet the needs of employers in the region.

“Skilled tradespeople play a significant role in the economic prosperity of the North Okanagan, as they do in many communities throughout the region we serve,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our new Trades Training Centre in Vernon is going to give our students a bright, modern and truly state-of-the-art facility that will match the quality of instruction they have always received at the College. And in so doing, it will help ensure we can continue to train the skilled workers needed to address the skills gap looming or already being felt in many areas across the province and the country.”

“We’re thankful to Kalamalka Rotary and all the donors who are investing in Okanagan College and in our students’ futures for years to come.”

The total cost for the new Trades Centre is $6.2 million. The project is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Through this fund, the province of B.C. is investing $2.9 million and the government of Canada has provided $2.7 million. The Okanagan College Foundation is fundraising for the remainder of the capital cost and to provide program and student support to increase access to training.

More information about the new Trades Training Centre and fundraising campaign is available at


Graduation inspires College student to think locally and globally
Okanagan College Media Release

Jennifer Meyer had long envisioned a career in International Development before an opportunity to make an impact locally sparked a change in plans. When she crosses the stage at Spring Convocation on Saturday, she’ll do so with a new perspective and big plans for how she can put her skills to work to benefit others in the Okanagan.Jennifer Meyer June 2018

Meyer is one of nearly 500 students who will graduate during two ceremonies Okanagan College is hosting on Saturday at the Kelowna campus.

The morning ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science and Health and Social Development programs receive their credentials. Patrick Waunch, CEO and President of Rambow Mechanical Ltd. will be recognized as an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College – the highest honour bestowed by the College.

At the afternoon ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m., the College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands from the Okanagan School of Business. Retired MLA Rick Thorpe will also be named Honorary Fellow and will address the graduands.

“I’ve always been a ‘yes’ person,” explains Meyer, who will receive her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in the afternoon ceremony. “I think it’s exhilarating to try new things and uncover new passions along the way and it’s because of this that I’ve got this really neat mixture of skills, experience, training and education that are preparing me for a really exciting future.”

Born and raised in Kelowna, Meyer began at the College in 2013 where she enrolled in the Associate of Arts degree program with intentions of completing the two-year program and transferring to a university to pursue a degree in International Development. Her plans changed when she decided to say yes to the opportunity to enrol in the College’s BBA program in accounting – an opportunity which also saw her move to France for half a year to study abroad.

The time away found her thinking about how she could apply her blossoming business skills to good use when she returned to Kelowna.

“This is my hometown and I’m really passionate about making an impact here,” says Meyer. “My time in the School of Business gave me a chance to gain a more global perspective but it also inspired me to look more closely and how I can drive change right here at home.”

Meyer’s first chance to apply her education came long before graduation. After being elected to the Okanagan College Student’s Union (OCSU), she worked with other students to come up with new ways of organizing the budget, lobbying for more student benefits, presenting to College boards and more.

“I’m an accounting student, so numbers are definitely my thing and I do have a tendency to think about that bottom line and how to make numbers work for you,” says Meyer. “But I also have this whole other side to me and I feel very motivated to do something bigger for my city.”

Meyer envisions a future in municipal or federal government but for now is focusing on graduation, starting a rewarding career at KPMG and working towards her Chartered Professional Accounting designation.

She’s also not the only Meyer who will be crossing the stage on Saturday.

“My brother Christian will be graduating with his Associate of Science degree in the morning ceremony,” explains Meyer. “My whole family is coming to watch both of us graduate.”

The ceremonies this weekend are two of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year.

“I want to congratulate all graduates and recognize them for their hard work, dedication and achievements both inside and outside of the classroom at Okanagan College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The future of the Okanagan looks incredibly bright and whether students stay in the region or move away, I am confident they will help transform themselves, people around them and the communities they live in.”

A ceremony in Vernon will be held on Tuesday, June 26. At that ceremony, the College will confer the title of Honorary Fellow upon Vernon’s Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono who will also address graduates. The final summer convocation ceremonies in Kelowna will follow on Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28 and will confer approximately 380 diplomas and certificates.

More than 2000 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2018 by the end of June.

All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at


A global opportunity at hand for PacWest wineries
Okanagan College Media Release

Steve Warner Wine talks May 2018At a time when trade agreements and threats dominate headlines, the President of the Washington State Wine Commission has a simple message for the B.C., Oregon and Washington wine industries.


Steve Warner, who has led the Washington State Wine Commission since 2012, will be bringing his perspective on the opportunities and challenges for the wine industries of Washington, Oregon and B.C. to Penticton on June 18, as part of the Wine Talks series presented by Liquidity Winery and Okanagan College.

There are challenges enough for each of the individual region’s industries – interprovincial trade barriers for B.C. wineries are just one example – but there are opportunities abroad to establish the reputation for the entire Pacific Northwest wine region that should be seized upon, says Warner. “We live the quality of our wines every day,” says Warner, “but we need to demonstrate that in the global market. The Pacific Northwest has a growing reputation that we need to work together to build.”

That will help reinforce the message of quality that drives domestic consumption but will also open doors for a growing export industry.”

He and 14 wineries from Washington are on their way to Hong Kong for VinExpo 2018.

“Washington’s first AVA was established in 1983. That’s like being weeks old in an industry where there are wineries that date back thousands of years.”

“We (Washington, B.C. and Oregon) are more alike than we are different. We’re complementary.”

“Washington State produces less than one per cent of the world’s wine. We don’t need to compete with each other – we need to co-operate.”

Warner’s tenure at the Washington State Wine Commission came after a career in the international pharmaceutical industry. Working for Merck & Co., Inc. he served as Managing Director, General Manager and held marketing positions in Bucharest, Seoul, Bangkok and in the U.S. He has a master’s of business administration in international business and finance from Rutgers University. Before his private sector career he served in the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command, completing his career as a Lieutenant Command in U.S. Navy Special Operations.

“I guess you could say I’ve gone from guns to drugs to alcohol.”

The most recent economic analysis of Washington State’s wine industry points to an annual impact nearing $5 billion.

“Under Steve’s leadership, Washington State wines have seen tremendous sales growth particularly in the premium category,” says Ian MacDonald, owner of Liquidity Wines. “This is a unique opportunity for us to learn what they have done to position their wine region for local, national and international success.”

Tickets for the fourth instalment in the Wine Talks series, June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Penticton Campus of Okanagan College, are $20. You can register online by visiting


Finding the Good: conference seeks to generate new ideas for ethical International Development
Okanagan College Media Release

How can ideas that begin in the classroom grow into real-world solutions to attack poverty, hunger, and gender inequality around the world? And – on the flip side – how can front-line practice inform the way students and researchers comprehend increasingly complex challenges to fundamental human rights?

International Development scholars and practitioners from across North America will convene at Okanagan College next month for a unique conference aimed at finding innovative ways to advance social justice, inclusion and human rights in development efforts around the world.

The conference – Finding the Good – happens June 8-9 at the College’s Kelowna campus. The first day will offer thematic workshops, discussions, and networking, with a focus on developing a book project on the theme of Ethics in International Development.

“Finding the Good is about bringing people together for dialogue focused on bringing about real change in this field and out in the world,” explains conference organizer Dr. Rosalind Warner, who teaches Political Science at Okanagan College. “The idea behind the conference is to create a space where scholarly insights and practical development work collide. Hopefully, the result will be solutions that improve the lives of people experiencing marginalization, discrimination and oppression.”

“It’s a conference focused on generating big ideas but even more importantly it’s about coming up with a plan for how we put those big ideas into practice.”

Sessions will cover a host of topics from public-private sector partnerships to women, gender and feminism to putting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015 – into a local context.

“The SDGs are indivisible, universal and aspirational goals and they apply as much at the local level as they do at the global level. The conference will therefore be of interest to those working to solve problems right here in the valley,” notes Warner.

Day two of Finding the Good will see keynote presentations by renowned International development professionals Chloe Schwenke and Michael Simpson.

Chloe Schwenke May 2018Schwenke, a former Director of the Global Program on Violence, Rights, and Inclusion at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), brings more than three decades experience as a human rights and social inclusion scholar and international development practitioner.

“There is a lack of effective, structured discussions on the current moral and economic climate in international development,” notes Schwenke, who currently serves as Interim Executive Director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (
AWP), based at the University of Maryland in College Park.

“Our partnerships with the developing world are changing rapidly and there is a definite need for scholars and practitioners alike to come together and discuss how we can inform new public policy, and how we can spark conversations that fuel paradigm shifts.”

As an educator, Schwenke says she has noticed more and more students stepping forward to join that conversation.

“There seems to be a growing interest in social inclusion issues and marginalization populations, from women to the LGBTQ community. Young people really relate to these topics and obviously we want to inspire and encourage them to add their voice to the conversation,” adds Schwenke.
Michael Simpson May 2018
Those interested in hearing more about Schwenke’s life and work as an LGBTQ scholar can also attend a book launch for her new memoir SELF-ish: a transgender awakening on June 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Infusions Restaurant at the Kelowna campus. Schwenke will share excerpts from the work in which she shares her experiences as an openly transgender Quaker woman whose life’s journey includes living in five countries and working on projects in more than 40, mostly in Africa and the Middle East. The event is free. Attendees can register in advance on Eventbrite.

Michael Simpson is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC). Prior to working for
 BCCIC, Michael was the Executive Director of One Sky – The Canadian Institute for Sustainable Living. His work with One Sky varied from leading major bilateral projects in West Africa including Nigeria and Sierra Leone to working in Latin America on projects ranging from forest conservation to leadership development. He is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has worked extensively in conflict and post-conflict areas around the globe.

Registration for Finding the Good is open online until June 1. Attendees can choose to register for a single day (Friday or Saturday) for $130 or both days for $170. Both days are open to public registration.

More information is available at Follow this event on
Facebook and on #ocfindingthegood.


Graduation brings it all into focus for College welding student
Okanagan College Media Release

After more than a decade working as a professional photographer in Ottawa, Mitchell Burton moved across the country, enrolled at Okanagan College and traded in his camera for a welding torch.Mitchell Burton May 2018

Today marks another important step toward that new career path as he and hundreds of others – from Aircraft Maintenance Engineers to RV Service Technicians – earn credentials at the College’s Trades Commencement ceremony.

“I felt I wasn’t getting any more traction in my career and didn’t know what was in store for my future in the photography industry,” explains Burton. “I was looking for something to happen, so I went back to basics and thought to myself, ‘why not find a new path that combines another one of my passions with work?’”

The answer to that question inspired Burton to get in his car and drive west across Canada to move to the Okanagan to pursue a new career path. An avid scuba diver, Burton was intrigued by the possibility of becoming a commercial level diver. Upon further research, he decided to explore a trade closely associated with commercial diving – welding – which led him to Okanagan College.

“Deciding to go to the College and enrolling in the welding program just felt right for me and now that I’m at the end of this program I can say it was the right choice,” says Burton. “Welding is such a versatile trade and you can really do so much with it and work in a ton of different venues which makes me very excited for my future because the opportunities are endless.”

For Burton, today’s ceremony marks the completion of his C-Level Welding Foundation Certificate which he hopes will propel him into the industry and open the door to future training.

“Graduating has given me a huge sense of accomplishment and I can’t wait to hit the ground running in this industry and start laying down some roots in the region,” says Burton. “I am excited to see where I’ll end up in this career.”

Burton’s next step will be to accrue the 1,000 hours of industry experience required to earn his Level 1 apprenticeship, after which he plans to return to the College to obtain B-Level Certification.

“Tradespeople play a vital role in building and sustaining our communities and trades training has always been at the heart of what we do at Okanagan College,” says President Jim Hamilton. “We commend all of our 2018 trades graduates on their achievements.”

More than 700 apprentices and foundation trades students will have received credentials since January. About 100 of those students were expected to attend Thursday’s ceremony.

Trades Commencement is one of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year. By the end of June, the College will have sent more than 2,000 graduates into the world to become nurses, engineering technologists, business leaders, computer programmers, educators, tradespeople and more.

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province behind BCIT.


With help from federal government and donors, new Trades Training House opens at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

The next generation of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians are stepping into a state-of-the-art new training space at Okanagan College this week thanks to investment from the Government of Canada, the College and a host of industry and community partners.

Trades Training House 1 May 2018Stephen Fuhr, Kelowna-Lake Country Member of Parliament, visited the Kelowna campus on Tuesday to officially open the College’s new Trades Training House.

The 2,700 square-foot facility is designed to simulate a real-world jobsite that will constantly change as new techniques, technologies and building materials emerge.

The opening wasn’t Fuhr’s first trip to the Trades Training House site. In March 2017, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Fuhr helped the College break ground for the building after announcing $332,485 in support for the project from the Federal Government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

“Skilled tradespeople play a vital role in ensuring the economic prosperity of the Okanagan and communities across the country,” said Fuhr. “Between the Trades Training House in Kelowna and the Trades Training Centre under construction at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, the Federal Government has invested nearly $3 million to enhance the College’s infrastructure and support its work to equip the tradespeople of today and future generations who will train in these facilities. The Trades Training House is going to benefit students and our local employers looking for skilled workers for years to come.”

Beyond future carpenters, plumbers and pipefitters and electricians, the facility will also serve students in the College’s Residential Construction, Sheet Metal Worker, Women in Trades Training and Aboriginal Gateway to the Building Trades programs.

Kelowna’s Sarah McGuire is one of those students.

“The more hands-on training we can get, the more experience and confidence we’ll have when we step onto the jobsite,” says McGuire, who is currently completing the Plumbing and Piping Foundation program. “Having a space that functions just like the real-world and gives us lots of variety in terms of equipment we’re working on, and the various stages of installation and repair, is incredibly valuable.”

Among those donors investing in the training of students like McGuire is Lee Keenan, Owner of Legacy Garage Doors. Keenan’s company contributed garage doors to the project, worth about $3,100.Trades Training House 2 May 2018

“The success of our business is based on our ability to offer our customers extremely high quality products and services – and a big part of that is having access to skilled workers,” notes Keenan. “We’re proud to be a part of the Trades Training House and supporting the futures of the countless tradespeople who will train here.”

“The beauty of the Trades Training House is that it will benefit students across so many programs and stages of training, while offering us the flexibility to offer new programming as industry needs change locally, across the province and beyond,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We’re immensely grateful to the Federal government for its investment in trades training at the College. I would also like to extend our gratitude to the many donors and industry partners who have stepped up with significant and varied contributions to help outfit the space.”

The house will also give the College and industry a space to pursue new programming, work-integrated learning and applied research projects.

Plans are in the works to add a solar photovoltaic array to the roof to capture energy and provide a tool for the College to be able to offer training in solar panel installation, maintenance and repair in future.

It is expected that more than 300 students will train in the facility per year.

The total cost for the project was approximately $1,060,000. To date – not including the federal government’s commitment – the College has received more than $384,000 in donations and gifts-in-kind toward the project. The College will contribute the remainder of the cost.


Enactus OC students showcase new initiatives on national stage
Okanagan College Media Release

After a strong showing at the Enactus Canada Regional Competition earlier this spring, 27 Okanagan College business students are heading across the country to once again assert their place among Canada’s best. One of the new projects they’ll be showcasing on the national stage is already having an accelerated impact in local classrooms.

Accelerate Youth

For fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student Jamie Park and her teammates, earning first-place at Regionals in Calgary in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge for the Accelerate Youth project – one of Enactus OC’s newest initiatives – was a major confidence boost and a milestone in the project’s rapid development over the past year.

Accelerate Youth teaches practical life skills such as budgeting, banking, cooking and more to at-risk youth. Joining Park on the team are fellow business students Jessica Egyed, Jessica Overland and Marshall Kutyn.

The project began to take root when Christine Thygesen, an instructor and counselor at the Westside Learning Center, approached the College for an innovative solution and support to teach life skills to students in alternative schools.

“For students who have experienced difficulties in past academic endeavors, adolescence is often the time when they acknowledge their negative outlook on the future,” explains Thygesen. “My vision was to improve the mindset of these teens by creating a program that would support and accelerate them to their next level of potential through hands-on learning.”

Over a 10-week span made up of 20 sessions, Enactus OC teammates visited the Westside Learning Centre to work with students.

“We started with needs versus wants, something every teenager knows about,” explains Park. “After a few weeks the youth started to open up to us and come to realize the importance of financial and nutritional literacy. Once we had covered the basics, we started looking at credit, insurance and taxes.”

The students were soon buoyed by a partnership with a local non-profit organization, Start Fresh, which allowed them to add some hands-on culinary education for the students. Launched in 2016, Start Fresh serves up education on everything from kitchen skills to life skills in a wide variety of settings.

‘Working with Accelerate Youth has been a fantastic experience for our Chefs here at Start Fresh,” says Sarah Martin, Operations Manager at Start Fresh. “We were able to come in to the project, share our skills and knowledge with the students and have a lot of fun doing it. We’re always grateful to support and work with youth in a meaningful way.”

Accelerate Youth also received a $2,000 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way Gennext, which provided the critical seed capital needed for its launch. So far, 25 youth have benefited from the program and the project partners are already looking at how it can be expanded to other regions and districts in future.

“It’s inspiring to see the collaboration between the Enactus team and the students who have built this incredible community learning environment,” says Enactus OC Faculty Advisor Dr. Kyleen Myrah. “The response from community partners who are offering their specialized expertise and financial support for this program has been outstanding. I am excited to see the future direction of Accelerate Youth.”

Enactus OC will be competing in three competitions at the National Exposition held May 14-16 in Toronto. Alongside Accelerate Youth, the entrepreneurial team will also highlight the Launch-a-Preneur and Start-up Weekend projects. The national team will present on all projects from the year. Alongside Myrah, three other Faculty Advisors – Dean Warner, Terry Kosowick and Scott Overland – will accompany and support the teams.

Aircraft industry demand still un-met in the Okanagan
Okanagan College Media Release

Michelle HanryWith local, national and global demand for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AME) soaring, Okanagan College is working with its industry partners to train the next generation of skilled technicians.

For area students that means significant career opportunities with companies such as KF Aerospace, one of the region’s largest employers (over the past four years, the company has hired every student to successfully complete the College’s AME Structures program). Among those alumni is 2014 grad Michelle Hanry.

“Getting hired straight after graduation and working for KF for the last three years has been an amazing experience,” explains Hanry. “I have learned a lot from the senior structural engineers. KF’s growth and involvement in numerous contracts that require a variety of maintenance experience allows new apprentices to ease into the work and grow their skills quickly.”

An open house on May 9 co-hosted by Okanagan College and KF Aerospace in Kelowna aims to open students’ eyes to the training and job opportunities in their flight path in both the College’s Structures (S) and Maintenance (M) programs.

“The industry demand is still so strong that even after a national search and hiring the entire class from the new November intake, we’re still looking for 30 more employees,” says Grant Stevens, Director of Human Resources for KF Aerospace. “KF has been on quite the expansion and in the last 10 years has built three new hangars and tripled the floor space and the number of aircrafts – staffing growth is our number one obstacle to expansion.”

Those looking to train for careers as aircraft maintenance engineers can choose from two offerings at the College – the Maintenance or M-License program, which covers everything from engines to electrical components in fixed wing aircraft and helicopters or the Structures (S-Licence) program, which covers the fabrication, assembly, installation, and repair of an aircraft’s structure.

The 62-week (approximately 15 months) M-Licence program is offered in partnership with Northern Lights College (NLC) in Dawson Creek, B.C. The first 48 weeks of training take place at Okanagan College Aerospace Campus in Vernon. The final 14 weeks of training take place at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.

Michelle Hanry 2The 37-week (approximately 9 months) S-Licence program operates out of the College’s Aerospace Campus in Kelowna. Students train steps away from KF Aerospace’s cutting-edge hangars and have opportunities to tour, meet and speak to KF’s experienced AME-S technicians and apprentices – many of whom are OC alumni.

“Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, both M and S streams, have always been some of the most sought-after workers in aviation,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College. “To help address the demand locally, the College opened an additional intake last November with support from KF Aerospace and the Industry Training Authority and we look forward to continuing to work together to address the demand.”

The open house starts at 6 p.m. on May 9 at OC’s Aerospace campus adjacent to KF Aerospace’s hangars at the Kelowna International Airport. It will provide prospective students with a chance to learn about both programs while also learning about job prospects and career paths in the aviation industry. Attendance is free and open to the public.

More information about the College’s AME programs and the upcoming open house, is available at

College to host animation information session and open house
Okanagan College Media Release

Anna Harestad stepped into Okanagan College’s new Animation lab last September armed with pencils, paper and a life-long dream of bringing her artwork to life on screen. This week, future animators looking to follow in her footsteps will have a chance to see work produced by Harestad and her classmates during their first year and to explore the cutting-edge space, tools and mentors helping OC students make their animation dreams a reality.Anna Harestad April 2018

The College will be opening up the doors of its new Animation lab, located in the Okanagan Innovation Centre at 460 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna, from 5 – 8 p.m. on May 4, for an info night and open house. The event is free and open to the public.

Attendees will have a chance to tour OC’s animation classroom, check out the state-of-the-art equipment and chat with instructors and students.

“Animation is my life – it is the thing I am most certain I was born to do,” says Harestad, who wrapped up her first-year of study in the program earlier this month. “I know my class is looking forward to showing what they’ve learned so far, sharing their work and helping people step into our world to see what animation is all about.”

The College will welcome its next intake of students into the two-year diploma program in September.

The Provincial Government recently announced funding that will allow the College to continue to offer the program on an ongoing basis and at a lower cost to students.

More information is available at


College students to showcase future-focused projects to community
Okanagan College Media Release

Kelly La Morge April 2018Okanagan College student Kelly La Morge is putting her education and skills in technology to work to fighting cyber bullying and online predators – an initiative she will be demonstrating at Future Now, an upcoming showcase of OC student work.

La Morge currently wears two high tech hats – she’s enrolled in both the College’s Computer Information Systems and Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (NTEN) programs. As part of her NTEN final capstone project, La Morge and classmate Christopher Fedun developed an innovative computer application called Who Do You Know? which alerts parents to potentially harmful online interactions between predators or bullies and their children.

“I’ve been thinking about the danger of online interactions and how they can affect people in real life ever since Amanda Todd’s suicide in 2012 which was a result of cyber-attacks,” explains La Morge. (Todd was just 15 years old when she committed suicide at her home in Port Coquitlam; her story and the investigation into the role online bullying played in her death made provincial and national news).

“There are people out there that are actively using their technology know-how to target children and marginalized individuals, like Amanda Todd and sadly countless others,” says La Morge. “I’m going to use my technology skills to combat those people – call it resistance through technology.”

Parents can use the application to silently monitor data from children’s and teens’ online conversations to see if any language used matches any of the preset key words, phrases and questions that are commonly used by bullies and predators. When there is a match, that specific message is logged and a text or email notification is sent to the parent who can then decide if and how they want to intervene and support their child.

“Presenting on our work at Future Now is very empowering – it brings a voice to our project and to me as a female studying and working in a male-dominated industry,” says La Morge.

The Future Now showcase is happening on May 1 from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Centre for Learning atrium (E Building) at the Kelowna campus. The event will feature 10 students from a variety of disciplines including arts, science and business who will present on their final projects.
Future Now is open to the public, free to attend and registration is not required.

“The College has incredibly dedicated students who are capable of producing professional quality work,” explains Sharon Josephson OC Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational programs. “The dedication, commitment and skills we constantly see from students is astounding and as future professionals in the region, their work should be seen. We felt a showcase like this would be a great way to celebrate students and give members of the community a chance to see what’s coming down the pipe.”

Josephson came up with the idea for Future Now after attending a student poetry reading. She found herself exploring the possibility of creating a College-wide platform to discover student skills from all disciplines. She joined forces with Director of Library Services Ross Tyner to bring the inaugural showcase to life.


Tourism educators conference comes to Kelowna
Okanagan College Media Release


A three-day conference for British Columbia’s tourism educators next week, hosted by Okanagan College, is going to be focused on one of the industry’s hottest topics: the future of work in the industry.

“Tourism and hospitality businesses are – at their core – about people,” says William Gillett, the Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “We all know that the single largest issue for tourism operators is human resources. The questions for the tourism educators of this province and country are ‘What can we do about it?’ and ‘What are we doing about it?’”

Toward that end, the conference (May 2-4) has drawn some experts in the educational sector to Kelowna, including John Walsh, the Vice-Provost of Toronto’s University of Guelph-Humber (a position he’s held since 2005). Walsh has developed a reputation for innovation in the post-secondary environment, and has worked on a variety of strategies focused on the food, wine and tourism industries.

Another keynote speaker at the conference is Tom Baum, a Professor in the Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. He heads the Department of Human Resource Management there and is widely acknowledged to be a leading expert in the area of human resources management focusing on the tourism and hospitality management sector.

Between 40 and 50 people are expected to attend. Sessions will cover everything from how skilled workers affect restaurants to the implications of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity on the tourism workplace and what students are taught. Presenters come from Okanagan College, Thompson Rivers University, Vancouver Island University, and Royal Roads University.

For more information about the conference, visit


Okanagan College trio golden in Skills competition
Okanagan College Media Release


For Okanagan College students and apprentices Lukas Pfob, Connor McLaren and Bradley Vanlerberg, their efforts at the provincial Skills Canada competition proved golden.

The trio won gold medals at the competition that was held in Abbotsford on April 18, part of the OC contingent of 14 students who brought home a total of eight medals from the event. The competition draws post-secondary and secondary school students and apprentices from throughout B.C. to test their skills against a series of challenges in 47 different disciplines.

For McLaren, it was his training as an Automotive Service Technician that led him to dominate in the Automotive Service category. Vernon’s Vanlerberg, in the second term of an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Maintenance) program, captured top spot in the Aerospace Technology competition, only to be followed by his classmate (also from Vernon), Levi Nicholas, who won the silver medal in the same competition.

Pfob won his gold medal in the Carpentry competition. It’s his second gold medal and his fourth medal overall competing in Skills Canada BC competitions. He won a gold medal last year and competed in the national competition.

“Okanagan College and the carpentry instructors have been fantastic,” says Pfob. “They’ve supported me and gone beyond showing me just the basics of carpentry.”

The attention to detail that’s been drilled into him apparently paid off. Pfob says the competition between he and the silver medal winner as they built small playhouses in 5.5 hours of competition was close. “Apparently, it was the clean cuts and joints, and the little details on my project that made the difference. Mine was more sellable in the final analysis.”

For 18-year-old Vanlerberg, he thinks it was an exam – on Canadian aviation regulations – that earned him the gold medal in the Aerospace Technology category. That exam came after he and the other contestants had to do an inspection on an engine, remove a fuel pump, and do all the accompanying paperwork.

McLaren was surprised to find out he had captured gold. He thought he’d stumbled on a couple of the six stations he had to complete during the automotive service competition. He thinks it was being able to do some basic things well that made the difference and he credits instructors for their support and the assistance they provided in anticipation of the competition. “They were great.”

“The accomplishments of these students is noteworthy,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “They work with their instructors over long hours to prepare for these competitions. It’s a commitment on behalf of the instructors, but it all comes down to the students’ skill and abilities.”

“For Lukas, Connor and Bradley, it means they will be headed to the national competition in Edmonton in June. We’ll be cheering them on.”

“I’m pretty nervous about the nationals because there’s lots I have to do,” says Vanlerberg. He estimates he’ll be putting in dozens of hours practicing and reviewing material with instructor Hal Hobenshield between now and early June.

Dianne Holm was an eager observer of as much as she could take in during the Abbotsford competition. She’s the Regional Co-ordinator for Skills Canada and an employee in Okanagan College’s Trades department. She helps organize and run one of the largest events held annually at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus – the regional Skills Canada BC Trades and Technology Regional Competitions and Discovery Day.

This past year, nearly 770 students (more than 110 of them competitors) from the K-12 system between Revelstoke and Osoyoos took part in the day-long event in March. “It’s great bringing the youth to our campus. By hosting the competitions we provide them a platform to showcase their skills, build up their confidence, and test their abilities, all while striving for gold to move on to Provincials. The Discovery Day component gives students a chance to broaden their perspectives on skilled trades and technology and to experience some hands-on activities.”

Holm was busy in Abbotsford tracking the competitors from Okanagan College (nine different trades competitions). They brought home eight medals: the three gold, the silver in Aerospace Technology, a bronze in Culinary Arts (Siobhan Detkavich), a silver in Heavy Equipment Service (Kian Banner), a bronze in IT Network Systems (Frank van Zandwijk) and a bronze in Refrigeration (Adam Sohnchen).


Okanagan College opens its doors to high-school students for Experience OC
Okanagan College Media Release

Experience OC Pen 2018Is time travel possible? How are video games made? Is homicide a brain disorder? How did zombies eat their way to the silver screen? What keeps an airplane in the sky? 

High-school students from across the South Okanagan region will converge upon Okanagan College’s Penticton campus May 1 to find the answers to these questions and more when they spend a day on campus and experience what it’s like to be a student for a day.

The College is opening its doors once again and inviting students in Grades 10-12 to attend Experience OC for a day of learning, fun and post-secondary exploration. Students can choose to register from among more than 20 classes, ranging from animation to physics, astronomy to practical nursing, criminology to geography and more.

“Experience OC is an excellent opportunity for students to explore a variety of areas of interest and get a sense of what Okanagan College has to offer,” says Eric Corneau Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “The College offers a wide variety of programs in trades, academic diplomas and degree options and this event is a perfect way for high-school students to think about post-secondary.”

In addition to the hour-long classes, students will be treated to fun activities, snacks and refreshments. The event takes place from 10:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Registration is now open.

For more information and to register your attendance and class choices, students should speak to their high-school counsellor for login information and permission slips. Class schedules and descriptions can be found at


The Okanagan is RIPE with innovative applied research

Okanagan College Media Release

RIPE logo1From indigenization to small businesses, millennials and pinot noir and drones to marijuana, the Okanagan is RIPE with innovative applied research projects and Okanagan College invites the community to attend its free second annual showcase event to hear about the cutting-edge research projects that are happening in the region.

RIPE (Research, Innovation and Partnerships Expo) is happening on May 8 from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the College’s Kelowna campus. The event is being supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and is an opportunity for community members, industry, educators, researchers and students to network and learn how applied research is growing new partnerships and enriching students’ educational experience in the Okanagan.

“Applied research by Okanagan College employees is making a big impact regionally and globally,” explains Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at the College. “The world is ever-changing and applied research can help us anticipate, react and even lead that change.” 

OC instructor and Chair of the Welding Trades department Sean Jarvis and Lukas Skulmoski, Interim Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health and an Electrical instructor are currently working on a research project with a team of two students to develop a custom sorting machine for a recycle depot in Vernon. 

“When the company approached the College’s applied research team with this problem, we knew we could help – that’s what we do, we fix things,” says Jarvis. “This is a perfect example of how applied research can create solutions and fix problems and how it can benefit student learning.”

The event features five workshops led by industry-leading professionals: Applied Research and Indigenization, Why Applied Research Matters to Small Businesses, Creating Creative Cultures and Curiosity and Innovation, Research Wine and Marijuana and lastly, Research and Drones.

Sean Jarvis

RIPE 2018 has two keynote speakers, Bert van den Berg Director, Colleges, Commercialization and Portfolio Policy with NSERC and Dr. Patrick Finn, School of Creative and performing Arts/Computational Media Design, University of Calgary and Chair of Research and Innovation, Edmonton Digital Arts College.

Finn will present The Dirty Little Secret about Research and van den Berg will present The Key Ingredient of Canada’s Success in Innovation.

In addition to workshops and keynote speakers, attendees will be treated to a morning mixer, a panel discussion and can hear applied research pitch questions and connect and expand their own applied research opportunities. Lunch and refreshments are included.

To attend this free event, please register at For more information on the expo including schedule details and keynote speaker biographies, please visit

Bono, Thorpe and Waunch: OC honours three community builders
Okanagan College Media Release

Mollie BonoA trio of community builders – all champions of different causes – are being recognized this year by Okanagan College with the institution’s highest commendation.

Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono, an advocate for Aboriginal peoples, Rick Thorpe, a dedicated public servant, and Patrick Waunch, a recognized construction leader, are to be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College in June.

“Each of these remarkable individuals has contributed significantly to our region, province and country,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “They have done it in diverse ways and richly deserve the honor our College is bestowing on them.”

Bono, Okanagan/Similkameen, is a School District #22 Trustee, a recipient of the Community Leadership Award (2017) in Vernon, and an active mentor for the Social Planning Council. She has served several terms as a Council Member for Okanagan Indian Band and has also served as a member of Okanagan College's Vernon Campus Regional Advisory Council. Since her retirement, Mollie has been working with the Social Planning Council and other allies in Vernon to advance Reconciliation and Healing.

Patrick Waunch2Waunch has been the chair of the British Columbia Construction Association, Chair of the Southern Interior Construction Association, Chair of the Trade Contractors Council for the Canadian Construction Association, is a recipient of the Canadian Construction Association Community Leader Award, and has a long association with Okanagan College (serving as Chair of the Program Advisory Committee, helping fundraise for the new Trades Complex in Kelowna, and being an active donor to the College and other community organizations). His dedication to apprenticeship for trades led to the Southern Interior Construction Association establishing the Patrick Waunch Scholarship Award that provides $3,500 annually to a mechanical trades apprentice at Okanagan College.

Waunch is the President and CEO of Rambow Mechanical Ltd. He holds Red Seal tickets in Plumbing and Steam Fitting, as well as tickets in First Class Gas Fitting, hydro-pulse boilers and installation for ground source heating. He holds Gold Seal certification in Project Management and Superintendent.

Thorpe was a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2009, representing the Okanagan-Penticton and Okanagan Westside ridings and serving in Cabinet for eight years and as a member of Treasury Board for nine years (five as Deputy Chair). Before his election, Thorpe held several executive positions in the brewing industry in Canada and internationally, and he was involved in repositioning the B.C. grape and wine industry and was a partner in a successful B.C. winery.

After retiring from the B.C. Legislature, Thorpe served on a number of Boards of Directors, including the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the Canadian Snowbirds Association, the Summerland Charity Shops Society (Penny Lane), Agur Lake Camp Society, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of British Columbia and Yukon. He was on the Board of Management for the Canada Revenue Agency for six years, four as Chair.

He is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. He has been awarded the Fellow of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and the Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada.

Rick Thorpe“Yasmin and I continue to watch the growth of Okanagan College, and over the past 22 years have witnessed first-hand what access to higher learning close to home means for our students here in the Okanagan,” says Rick. Yasmin was named an Honorary Fellow in 2012 for her role in promoting children’s literacy and literature and for her service to the Okanagan.

“I’m very proud to be associated with Okanagan College, an institution which is focused on playing a very important role for our students within the Okanagan and Similkameen,” says Rick.

The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship, established in 2006, has awarded $112,250 to 53 students entering Okanagan College.

“As an employer, I know first-hand how important the trades training is that Okanagan College provides,” says Waunch. “I have witnessed the investments of time, energy and resources that have led to OC becoming B.C.’s second-largest trades training institution and know the impact that has had on the construction community of our region. I’ll wear the title of Honorary Fellow proudly.”

“I’m honored that the College has chosen to acknowledge my life’s work to bridge cultures. Limlimt,” says Bono. “It has been easy for me to support and provide input into the work Okanagan Colleges does with Indigenous people and others,” she adds. "I have witnessed positive changes and appreciate that the College community is looking for new and creative programs that meet the needs of students and support the further success of Indigenous students.”

“There is a history of revolution in my family and this honour is another part of a lifelong journey that will only serve to strengthen my commitment to making our world in the Okanagan and beyond a better place.”

Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow Awards to deserving individuals (40, including Bono, Thorpe and Waunch) as part of its annual Convocation Ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A full list can be found at

Human mental illness and evolutionary biology are focus of talk at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

How does the human brain work? Why do humans get mental illnesses and what causes these illnesses when the brain does not work as expected?

Dr. Bernard Crespi April 2018Dr. Bernard Crespi, SFU Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Canada Research Chair in Evolution and Psychology,
will address these questions and more in a public talk entitled Where Darwin Meets Freud: the evolutionary biology and psychology of human mental illness at Okanagan College as part of the Science in Society Speaker Series. 

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, Crespi’s talk
will take place at the College’s Vernon campus in the Lecture Theatre on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Crespi’s research centres on integrating theory, methods and data from evolutionary biology, social behaviour, genetics, psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and hormones to understand why and how the human brain has evolved, how human cognition has evolved under Darwinian natural selection and how risks and forms of human mental illnesses have evolved.

According to Crespi, understanding the evolution of the human brain and mental illness risks represent some of the biggest research questions of the 21st century.

“Recent advances in genetics, neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology are re-casting psychiatric conditions in new light and guiding new ways to study and treat them,” says Crespi. “Our goal will be to better understand the nature of mental illnesses, their causes and their consequences for individuals, families and communities.”

In addition to multiple major international awards in evolutionary and behavioral biology, Crespi was awarded 2016 Sterling Prize for revolutionizing psychiatry
with his Diametric Theory of Human Mental Illness, originally published with co-author and sociologist Christopher Badcock in 2008. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan and conducted postdoctoral work at Oxford and Cornell Universities. Crespi is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644.
To purchase tickets online and to find more information on this presentation and the Science in Society Speaker Series, visit


College to host free information session on the healthcare career you’ve never heard of
Okanagan College Media Release


The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a career in healthcare might be studying to become a doctor or a nurse, but there are plenty of under-the-radar occupations that most students probably haven’t heard of yet, like a Medical Device Reprocessing Technician.

The College is inviting those interested in learning more about this little known but in-demand healthcare career to attend a free information session on Tuesday, April 10 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Kelowna campus.

Mike Gantner, a graduate of Okanagan College’s Medical Device Reprocessing Technician certificate, has witnessed the demand for technicians first-hand.

“Everyone that I graduated with was hired right away,” says Gantner, who decided to return to school to advance his career in healthcare after starting out in hospital laundry services.

“My open-minded approach to working at different hospitals and casual hours after graduation paid off quickly – I’m now in a full-time position with great hours.”

Healthcare facilities throughout the province rely on the comprehensive knowledge and attention to detail of Medical Device Reprocessing Technicians. They are the people who directly contribute to a hygienic environment for patients. Lives depend on the work they do to make sure that the medical instruments used in hospitals are clean, safe and sterile. 

Demand for people trained in this area across the Interior Health Authority region is high. In fact, 95 per cent of graduates from Okanagan College’s Medical Device Reprocessing certificate program are in the labour force, according to recent provincial government surveys.

The next intake for the College’s Medical Device Reprocessing Technician certificate program is coming up in May. To learn more about the info session, or to register, call 250-862-5480.

More information about the program is available at


Okanagan College Enactus and Valley First celebrate $100,000 of support
Okanagan College Media Release

Valley First & Enactus March 2018Okanagan College’s Enactus team hosted a ceremony this week to mark a milestone in support from one of the team’s key sponsors.

On Monday, March 26, students from the College’s School of Business recognized Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, for the organization’s numerous contributions and support which this year will reach $100,000 in total since the partnership began three years ago.

“Giving back to our communities and supporting social enterprises like Enactus OC is in Valley First’s DNA,” says Tracy Clark, Marketing & Communications Business Partner for Valley First. “Enactus OC’s values strongly align with ours and it made sense to partner with them and work together to support growth in our shared communities.”

Valley First began its partnership with Enactus OC in early 2016 and provided its initial donation of $10,000 to support one of Enactus’ projects, CANsave – a financial literacy education program. Bolstered by Valley First’s support, that program has grown into a nationally-recognized and award-winning financial literacy program impacting teachers and students in more than 6,000 elementary schools across Canada.

Since its initial donation, Valley First has stepped forward with support for Enactus OC on numerous occasions over the past three years and has agreed to provide up to $35,000 this year.

Valley First’s support has manifested itself in other ways as well. Last year, the organization nominated Enactus OC for the 2017 Concentra Empowering your Community award, which the team went on to win. The award netted the team from OC $10,000 to sustain and continue to grow its initiatives.

“This financial support helps build our sustainability as an entire team and supports us in competitions at the regional, national and worldwide level,” explains Enactus OC President Abbey Jones. “Enactus OC has more than 65 students across all four campuses and this support ensures we can continue to develop our nine projects and programs which truly impact and empower individuals of all ages in our community and nationwide.”

Last year Valley First sponsored 49 different organizations and offers more than just financial support to its partners, Clark points out.

“We don’t just write checks,” explains Clark. “We get involved with all of our partners and projects, as our organization has a strong volunteer culture through a program we offer called LeadWell that encourages all of our staff to share their expertise and knowledge in the community. We are very proud of the work we do and I know many of our staff have enjoyed the opportunity to go into the classroom as part of CANsave and help to increase financial literacy in our communities.”

“Partnerships like this are truly invaluable for Okanagan College students because they allow our students to tap into opportunities to build their skills and apply their knowledge outside of the classroom,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are grateful to Valley First for supporting our students in making a positive impact in their surrounding communities.”