HootSuite founder and rising chef latest alumni award recipients

holmesRyan Holmes, who founded the social media management tool HootSuite, has become the latest recipient of the Okanagan College Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award.

Holmes will be honoured Oct. 5 along with the 2012 Young Alumni – Chef John Garratt who distinguished himself in the kitchen of the Culinary Arts program at Okanagan College.

Holmes grew up in Vernon and then launched a paintball company, all while holding down classes at Okanagan College in the arts, business and, naturally as it turns out, computer science.

garrattHe then moved on to Vancouver, where he founded Invoke Media, which developed HootSuite in 2009. The company has since become a multi-million dollar player in the dynamic field of social media where it helps large corporations like McDonald’s and others manage their online brands on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

Garratt came to prominence earlier this year when he organized more than 80 junior chef volunteers to assist in the Canadian Culinary Association’s 2012 Gold Medal Plates Competition held, in part, at Okanagan College.

From there he was a named one of two young chef ambassadors with the World Association of Chefs Society.

Affordable skills training for job seekers

A series of subsidized skills training opportunities for local job seekers interested in preparing to re-enter the labour force is now being made available region-wide at Okanagan College through the Employment Skills Access program (ESA).

The ESA is designed to provide affordable access to skills training for individuals who are unemployed, non-Employment Insurance clients looking to acquire new skills to meet labour market needs in a variety of industries including hospitality, tourism, business, finance and administration, to name a few.

Programs offered this fall include Landscape Horticulture and Golf Course Maintenance, Seven Weeks of Certificates (designed for employment in the Oil & Gas industry), Management Skills for Supervisors, and FastTrack to Office (Office Administration).

Training dates are staggered across the region and some courses begin this fall. Eligibility for the subsidized training is determined on a case-by-case basis.

For more information on program dates, descriptions and eligibility contact Kara Otke or call ext. 4870.

Students set Okanagan College in their sights

orientationThe busy start of the school year kicked off last week with high-energy events at Orientation Day, held at each of Okanagan College’s four regional campuses.

Students were treated to fun icebreaker games to get to know each other, many of their instructors, and find their way around campus through scavenger and treasure hunts.
There were also prizes, mascots, barbeques, food, music – everything that organizers could think of to help the students feel welcome to start their new school year off right.

More than 1,200 students took part college-wide in the various events. Among the highlights was the opening of the new Multicultural Café in Salmon Arm operated by the English as a Second Language program.

Organizers praised the volunteers, many of whom where returning students who got up extra early to make sure everything was ready.

Final numbers for the incoming semester will be available once registration closes this Friday.

Volunteers needed to dig new food forest

Hundreds of plants, from big to small, will be making their way into a fresh new food forest this Friday and Saturday to become part of the Kalamalka Demonstration Garden at Okanagan College.

Volunteer organizer Wendy Aasen is looking for a few people to assist on Friday, and even more on Saturday at the lower parking lot of the Vernon campus at 7000 College Way.

“Get dressed in work clothes, bring gloves, a hat, slap on the sunscreen and put a snack in your pocket and get ready to move some mulch, dig in the dirt, and make a difference,” Aasen said. Some additional snacks will be provided.

The Food Forest planting takes place both days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers are welcome to donate a few hours, or a full day.

Gordon Hiebert, owner of Element Eco-Design and a Continuing Studies instructor at Okanagan College, has been instrumental in the design of the garden and will be overseeing the planting.

The garden will be a long-term low maintenance food solution, where the plants can be used for food, fuel, fibre (mulch), fodder, fertilizer and farmeceuticals.

The project is supported by the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan through a grant from Tree Canada and by Okanagan College’s Innovation Fund.

To sign up, contact Wendy Aasen at 250-542-6920.

Powerful Youth Pow Wow returns to Kelowna

powwowThe Fourth Annual Youth Exhibition Pow Wow takes place at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College on Thursday, Sept. 20.

Students from schools throughout the Okanagan Nation will be on campus taking part in the dance performances, which will be led by returning emcee Elder Richard Jackson Jr., who is a member of the Lower Nicola Band.

Also taking part will be Iron Mountain and Little Hawk drumming, and Noel Ferguson as Whip Man.

“The students themselves really appreciate more public events like this,” said James Coble, Aboriginal Access and Services Coordinator. “It’s also a real opportunity for some cross-cultural learning for everyone. People may not understand that pow wows are not just for fun. There is a deeper meaning.”


Werger soars in Mt. Robson Marathon

tumbleThe Mt. Robson Marathon got longer this year, but that didn’t stop Randy Werger from completing it once again.

“I made it through another run with 46-km this year, up from 42 last year,” said Werger, Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship programs, who completed the run in 4:10. “I’m waiting for the results to be posted, but think I finished around thirteenth over all.”

Like last year, Werger took a tumble, virtually in the same spot, but said it was a fabulous day on the Berg Lake Trail, with the extra challenge of an elevation gain of 825m/2,700-feet.

Berg Lake Trail is the most heavily used back country trail in the Canadian Rockies.

Okanagan face of skiing studies here

serwaStudents may have done a few double takes this summer when they passed by a face far more familiar on the slopes than on the Kelowna campus.

Kelsey Serwa, known as one of the members of Canada’s national Ski Cross team and the reigning champion of the Ski Cross World, returned to the college for the summer semester to pick up a few courses before heading back to training.

“What I like about school is that it keeps your brain working in a different way,” said the 23-year-old student, who is preparing for her degree in physiotherapy. “Competing at a world class level requires great mental abilities, but when I’m in school, I’m developing a different kind of skill.”

With her finals now complete, Serwa is now focused once more on training for the upcoming season, which includes plans to defend her FIS Freestyle World Ski Championship, this time in Norway.


Sept. 17 – Okanagan College Mathematics Professor Shawn Desaulniers will host a talk at the Penticton campus (PL 107) on the benefits of mathematical games and puzzles for children and adults. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 – The fourth annual Youth Exhibition Pow Wow will take place in the courtyard at the Kelowna campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring emcee Richard Jackson Jr. with Iron Mountain and Little Hawk drumming, and Noel Ferguson as Whip Man.

Sept. 24 – Human Kinetics Professor Greg duManoir will share some of the trials and tribulations he experienced while taking part in international research at the base of Mount Everest last May. The lecture will take place in Penticton in room PL 107 at 7 p.m.

Sept. 29 – The Kelowna and District Genealogical Society biennial convention Harvest Your Family Tree takes place at the Kelowna campus Centre for Learning.
Sept. 11, 2012 Vol. 7 Issue 11


Upcoming pension seminars

Members of the Municipal Pension Plan can learn more about their future, and retirement with two upcoming free seminars.

Your Pension, Your Future (one hour) is designed for new and mid-career plan members, while Thinking About Retiring (two hours) is for members within five years of retirement.

All plan members, including those receiving long-term disability benefits, are welcome to attend. To register, visit, and look under Resources for Pension Information Seminars.

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The Your Pension, Your Future seminar is scheduled to take place in Kamloops on Oct. 17, and in Penticton on Nov. 14. Other sessions will be held around the province.

Members are responsible for their own travel and associated costs of attending a seminar. Meanwhile, a reminder that the Municipal Pension Plan Annual General Meeting takes place Oct. 11, 2012 in Victoria. The AGM will be webcast at

Call for nominations for ILT Fellows

The Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT) is seeking nominations for three new Fellows to represent the areas of:

1) Support Staff with a Non-Instructional Focus (term: Oct. 1, 2012 - May 31, 2014)

2) Penticton Region (term: Oct. 1, 2012 - May 31, 2015)

3) Salmon Arm Region (term: Oct. 1, 2012 - May 31, 2015) 

The ILT is also seeking nominations for one replacement Fellow to represent Science and Technology (term: Oct. 1, 2012 - May 31, 2013).

The Fellow for employees with a Non-Instructional Focus includes groups such as clerical staff in: Student Services, Advancement, Registrar’s Office, Admissions, Human Resources, Ancillary & Business Services and Finance. These positions primarily involve having a non-instructional focus when working with staff/students i.e. sharing information.

The Fellow for employees with an Instructional Focus includes groups such as Learning Centre Coordinators, Ed Advisors, HR Advisors, Counsellors and Recruiters. These positions primarily involve having an instructional focus when working with staff and/or students i.e. educating staff/students by offering some specific knowledge in a helping/advising capacity.

If you are from one of these areas, would like to take on a leadership role in your employment group and are passionate about enhancing learning and teaching at Okanagan College, or if you know of a colleague who fits this description, please complete a nomination form today.

For Nomination Forms and additional information please contact Paul Stephenson at extension 4928.

Completed nominations must be submitted to Paul Stephenson by Friday, September 21.

Keep campuses secure

Security Services wants to remind all faculty and staff to not carry both keys and the ID SALTO access card on the same lanyard. These two items must be kept separately to avoid, in the case of loss or misplacement, unauthorized access to the College.

Anyone who loses their ID access card should contact Michelle Reed at Facilities Management or the campus administration office, at which point the card will be deactivated and a new one issued.

In the case of lost keys, notify Facilities or the Campus Administration office immediately. Keys should be devoid of any markings or key ring logos that indicate they belong to the College.

PPC offers back to school tips

Just in time for a brand new school year, the PPC Canada newsletter offers a few tips on how to start things right, plus some quick reminders to help parents cope with the everyday stress of raising children. There’s also a section on how to avoid that other fall-time hazard – the flu.

Rotary seeks professionals to join in German exchange

Rotary in the South Central B.C. region is looking for participants to take part in a group study exchange next year in the beautiful Black Forest of Germany.

The exchange, hosted by Rotary District 5060 which includes Washington, runs from May 18 to June 15, 2013. Deadline to apply is Sept. 21.

Eligible non-Rotarian team members must be:
•    between the ages of 25 and 40
•    fully employed with at least two years of work experience in their chosen field
•    in the early-mid stages of their careers or professions
•    reside in or be employed in Rotary District 5060 and also be citizens of the country in which they reside
•    proficiency in German is an asset
•    personable, articulate, cooperative, motivated team players, and enthusiastic about their vocations.

To learn more, go to the Rotary District 5060 website, and look for the GSE Brochure for criteria, or contact Rotary District GSE Chair Kathy Butler at ext. 4775.


Ryan Holmes, the founder of HootSuite, will not only speak at Okanagan College Oct. 5, but he’ll also be honoured as this year’s Distinguished Alumni from the Okanagan College Alumni Association. Read more in: HootSuite founder to speak at OK College, OC alumni giving award to social media innovator.

Registrar Jane Muskens focused on character and job growth in her most recent Capital News columns. Read: Characteristics that should define a post-secondary student, and Education aimed where jobs growth in B.C. is expected.

Okanagan College is offering a series of short-term subsidized training programs through the Employment Skills Access Program. Read: College offers skill retraining program, from the Capital News.

Two exceptional Okanagan College students were invited to take part in a prestigious three-day leadership conference last month. Read more in College students selected for Deloitte’s national leadership conference.

The Bunker, Okanagan College’s new letterpress print shop, literally got ink with a story in the Morning Star. Read: New print shop opens at college.

Okanagan College’s Kalamalka Demonstration Garden is ready for initial planting now that two water conservation pathways have been built. Read: OC garden tracks conservation, from the Morning Star.

The practical nursing program held an information session to prepare for its next intake, which gets underway in January. Read: Info night to offer insight into college nursing program.

Accelerate Okanagan is looking for entrepreneurs and think tanks to make a pitch at its next session, taking place at the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence. Read: Accelerate Okanagan holding free pitch competition, from the Penticton Herald.

The Morning Star ran a feature on retail training offered at Okanagan College in its Business section. Read: Campus tackles retail sales.

News of Jayne Brooks’ appointment as Director of Learning and Teaching was included in the pages of the Morning Star. Read: College creates new role.

Dr. Kyleen Myrah’s receipt of the President’s Award as part of Okanagan College’s Employee Award of Excellence was written up in a brief that appeared in Business Thompson Okanagan.

Connie Denesiuk, a member of the Okanagan College Board of Governors, along with her husband Bob, is celebrating 32 years of business operating R. Denesiuk Construction, reported Business Thompson Okanagan.

The Courier reported news that Douglas MacLeod, the Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health has become the first chairman of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Read: MacLeod to chair architectural institute.

The Daily Courier and the Morning Star picked up on a media release about the upcoming Youth Exhibition Pow Wow. Read: College to host pow wow.

More than half of all college and university students will graduate owing more than $20,000 in student loans, but scholarships are available, including at Okanagan College. Read: Student funding lowdown.

News that MLA Norm Letnick, on leave from Okanagan College Business Administration, received his first post as minister attracted headlines in Kelowna. Read: Local MLA lands his first cabinet posting (Capital News), Kelowna a power centre in cabinet (Courier).

Continuing Studies instructor Mark Ziebarth was mentioned in a letter to the editor regarding his bid to be a B.C. Liberal. Read: Ziebarth follows a conservative path.

MLA George Abbott, the former Okanagan College political science professor and last year’s Distinguished Alumni, announced he won’t be running to represent the Shuswap in the upcoming election. Read: Abbott calling it quits, from the Morning Star.

The Ryga Centre is going up for sale, reported the Summerland Review, despite efforts by the College to preserve it. Read: Literary landmark for sale, and No responses from Ryga Centre.

Politician, and sometimes business professor Norm Letnick, was also mentioned as something of a guitarist in an article in the Courier. Read: Cultural Jewel has come a long way since 1962.


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The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Tuesday, Sept. 25.