Students and staff act quickly in face of Japanese disaster

japanAfter spending the last two weeks studying language and culture at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College, a group of nine Japanese study tour students have offered to courier emergency supplies with them when they return to their country later this week.

Staff from the College’s International Education department are appealing to the local community to assist with donations to purchase supplies to help provide relief to those affected by last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

With support from Okanagan College, the students from Japan’s Iwate University are working with the Vernon Salvation Army to collect funds to purchase emergency supplies that will accompany the group on their return to Japan. The students are scheduled to return to Japan on Saturday and hope to do so with relief supplies that will be of use to those at home. 

Iwate Prefecture is less than 200 kilometres north of Sendai, one of the areas hardest hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami. 

“Our goal is to collect enough money to purchase emergency supplies to send each of the nine students back to Japan with a suitcase full of items such as emergency blankets, water purification tablets, dried food, flashlights, batteries and anything else that is non-perishable and of use during this crisis,” said Jennifer Kerr, program administrator for International Education at Okanagan College. “The Vernon Salvation Army has stepped forward to receive the cash donations for the Okanagan College Japanese Students Fund. We are hoping Vernon community members will see this as an opportunity to help people who are in desperate need.”

International and domestic students in Kelowna have also held a series of meeting to devise a fundraising campaign to support victims of the disaster. The students are planning a t-shirt campaign and charity fundraising concert in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to Inside Okanagan College to find out how you can get involved or contact Jennifer Klotz. 

OCSU shows support for Centre of Excellence

ocsuThe Okanagan College Students’ Union recently announced its support for the environment, for leadership in education and for enhanced learning spaces and opportunities, with a $36,997.10 donation to the fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation in Penticton.

“Looking back to when this building was first announced, I remember thinking of the incredible impact it would have for students on this campus as well as residents in the South Okanagan-Similkameen,” observed Cory Nelmes, Financial Co-ordinator for the OCSU. “From the very first days of the design process Okanagan College has committed to making this building truly a Centre of Excellence. As students and as an organization, we’re pleased to have been involved in the process that led to its development and are eagerly awaiting the doors opening on its shops, classrooms, and student spaces.

“It will make a difference in where we learn, how we learn and what we learn. We don’t have a great deal of money, but careful stewardship of funds over the years by ourselves and our predecessors left us with an opportunity to make a contribution to the fundraising campaign. We hope that our donation will inspire others to contribute to the $5 million campaign as well.” 

“We involved our students from the start of the design process,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “They’ve been supportive and understand what the building means in terms of improvements to the campus and in terms of educational opportunities in the region.”

When it opens this spring, the building will create space for approximately 500 more students at the South Okanagan-Similkameen campus in Penticton.

“Having the students choose to support our fundraising efforts is a vital signal to the rest of the region,” says Jim Henderson, President of the Okanagan College Foundation and Chair of the Campaign Committee. 
“At a point when we are broadening our appeal to the larger community, it is a great show of support from the people that this project will affect the most: our students. We appreciate their commitment.”

SIFE Okanagan brings home regional gold

SIFE Okanagan is celebrating another big win at the regional SIFE competition in Calgary after earning gold medals in entrepreneurship and financial literacy and a silver medal in the green competition.

SIFE Okanagan set a new record at the regional competition, becoming the first team to win gold in two categories for four years in a row. The regional win will grant SIFE Okanagan two berths in the national competition, which takes place in Toronto in May.

College takes second step forward to sustainability

threestepsOkanagan College has committed to taking the next step forward to become more sustainable. With sustainability listed as one of Okanagan College’s five key directions and as a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's STARS program, the College will be monitoring and measuring its progress toward sustainability.

Under the guidance of Bob Eby, Vice President of Finance and Administration, Sustainability Champions in all areas of Okanagan College’s operations have committed to measure the institution’s sustainability progress, as well as create communities of action.

If you would like to get involved in one of the sustainability teams, please contact one of the champions listed below. Stayed tuned for the announcement of the College’s Sustainability Blog in two weeks.

Operations – Steve Robinson Sr.
Curriculum – Arnica Rowan
Purchasing – Deb Peterson
Planning and Administration – Bob Eby
Diversity and Affordability – James Coble
Community and Student Involvement – Heather Schneider, Jim Barmby, John Lent and Donna Lomas

Lumby student wins 28th annual Spaghetti Bridge competition

spagJohnathan Halbgwachs, a 14-year-old student from Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby was crowned heavy weight champion at the 28th annual Okanagan College Spaghetti Bridge Building competition last Friday. Halbgwachs’ 965-gram bridge held 209 kilograms to capture top spot, beating the team of Hungarian students who took the championship title in 2010.

Though Halbgwachs’ bridge did not set a new world record - that was set in 2009 by another team from Hungary with a bridge that weighed 982 grams and held 975 pounds – Dr. Andrew Hay said the real winners were the hundreds of students from throughout the region who had the opportunity to engage in the exciting world of science and technology.

“At the heart of the competition is the idea of promoting science and technology to elementary and high school students,” said Hay. “Hundreds of students from throughout our region, from Osoyoos to Revelstoke, show up with pre-built bridges, to build bridges on site and to compete in or watch the heavyweight competition. They leave with a much richer appreciation of how much fun and how exciting it can be to put to work all those principles and theories they’ve been introduced to in school.”

Second place in the heavyweight competition went to a team of students from Okanagan College, led by Chad Marsh with colleagues Rajveer Dhillon, Cory Konkin, and Tyler Weise. 
Third place went to Hungarian student Peter Sandor, from College of Nyíregyhaza.

For complete Spaghetti Bridge results for the heavyweight, post-secondary, secondary and team building events, go online.

eat.drink.tweet conference sells out

The cafeteria at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College was filled to capacity last weekend as more than 125 people attended the social media boot camp eat.drink.tweet. With a focus on the wine and culinary industries, #eatdrinktweet trended at number two on Twitter in Vancouver the first night and the networking that took place over the weekend will long be the subject of industry tweets.

Eighteen wineries from the Naramata Bench Wineries Association provided the product that was the cause of so much activity on Twitter and Roger Planiden catered the tasty fare.  

Keynote speaker Rick Bakas wrapped up his address by engaging in the twitter tasting as his followers from around the globe enjoyed some of the Naramata Bench product along with him.

Watch the next edition of Inside Okanagan College for more information about the conference and its outcomes.

College residence takes part in energy reduction challenge

darkThe Skaha student residence is currently participating in the "Do it in the Dark" Energy Reduction Challenge from March 7-25.
Okanagan College students’ energy use is being monitored and will be compared to usage in residences from all other universities and colleges in BC. Log into the competition webpage to see how the students are doing. 

Penticton Young Entrepreneurs impress judges

Twelve teams of middle and secondary school students in Penticton participated in SIFE Okanagan’s Young Entrepreneur Program, pitching products and services to a panel of business leaders in Penticton.

With support and mentorship from SIFE Okanagan members, the teams developed concepts, marketing plans and financial strategies to help make their products and services viable. Business ideas ranged from t-shirt company to paintball gun design firm.

Participating teams came from Penticton and Summerland. The pitches were covered by CHBC news – follow this link to watch a package from the event.

The Beaux’ Stratagem opens this Friday

The Beaux’ Stratagem opens on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Okanagan College Lecture Theatre at the College’s Kelowna Campus. It plays Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for seniors and students and are available at Mosaic Books, Okanagan College’s bookstores and at the door.

The Beaux’ Strategem is the Okanagan College’s Red Dot Players first production. The play is a wickedly funny 18th-Century comedy originally written by George Farquhar in 1707 that has been adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig (both renowned modern playwrights).

The play tells the tale of two young men who find themselves running short of funds and who settle upon a plan to leave London and hunt for a wealthy wife for at least one of them. The two pretend at being master and servant, switching roles as they move from town to town.

The Red Dot Players troupe was formed last fall, when Jeremy Beaulne and colleagues in the College’s English department realized there was an appetite among students, staff and alumni to flex their theatrical energies, talents and ambitions.

“Today we have more than 30 volunteers who are finding that opportunity for self-expression that we hoped this troupe and play would provide,” says Beaulne.

For more information, Beaulne can be contacted at or those interested can visit


Hay reappointed Vice President Education

hayDr. Andrew Hay has been reappointed as Vice President, Education for a five-year term, President Jim Hamilton has announced.

“Andrew has kindly accepted my offer of a five-year renewal of his position,” Hamilton said. “The offer stems from my continuing confidence in his superior skills and abilities, displayed consistently in his key role in helping to build Okanagan College during and after the transition from Okanagan University College.”

Hamilton noted that Hay supported innovative initiatives such as the Institute for Leadership in Learning and Teaching and the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation. He has also helped the College move forward on key partnerships such as those with UBCO, BCIT, College of the Rockies and Selkirk College. 

“Working with everyone during the first six years of the relaunched Okanagan College has been immensely stimulating on a professional level,” said Hay. “We’ve undertaken and accomplished much, and developed a reputation as one of the leading student-focused colleges in Canada. With adoption of our new strategic plan and the ongoing development of our new long-term education plan, I see a tremendous opportunity to build on what we have created. I know the College will continue to be a great place to work and learn and am quite excited to be part of that. ”

In memory of John Doerksen

One of Okanagan College’s earliest employees, John Doerksen, died on March 5 at his home in Victoria. 

Doerksen worked for the College from April 1968 until 1978 when he retired as Dean of Administrative Services and Bursar.

Doerksen was a retired Lieutenant Colonel when he began work with the College in its earliest days after a distinguished military career that involved intelligence work in Ottawa, Washington and Berlin.

Doerksen did much to lay the groundwork for fiscal responsibility at the fledgling College. In the book OUC Memoirs, author Ross Freake writes about Doerksen:

The first big challenge was starting the College without a capital budget…Doerksen leased everything from pencils to portables. ‘I would order things on a three-year lease. I got all the furniture, all the books and everything in that fashion.’ He and his assistant assembled desks and furniture and lugged the books up the stairs to their second-story office because the delivery company wouldn’t. After the books were sorted for each campus, they were taken down to his car, which became a mobile bookstore, as he drove to the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. He wasn’t paid mileage.”

Former Okanagan College President Bill Bowering recalls Doerksen as an administrator who brought a “sobering view” to matters at the College, at a time when money was really tight.

“He was always straightforward. You always knew where you stood,” said Bowering. 

“I always remember something John said one day,” he recalled. “A decision at Okanagan College is a signal to begin the debate.”

Science alumna wins Canada Games events

Okanagan College alumna Alysson Marshall (also daughter of Tom Marshall – from the Biology department in Salmon Arm) recently won four medals in a variety of cross-country skiing events held at the Canada Games in Halifax. Alysson won three golds and a silver and was proclaimed Team BC’s flag bearer in the Games’ closing ceremonies.

Alysson has been to two other Canada Games, the first time at age 14. In 2007 she won a gold and a silver medal. She also competed in World U23’s in Estonia where she was the top North American woman in the sprint event, placing 12th in the world. She competed in her first European World Cup in Estonia where she finished 33rd, just .57 seconds from qualifying for the heats.

She is a multiple winner of the Premier’s Athletic Award and a top student. She is currently working on a BioChemistry Degree at the University of Calgary  and lives in Canmore Alberta where she trains with the Alberta World Cup Academy. 
Mar. 15, 2011 Vol. 4 Issue 24


Have your sustainability-related courses count

sustainThe Okanagan College Sustainability Curriculum Team, composed of volunteer faculty and vocational instructors, is conducting the initial STARS inventory of sustainability-focused and -related courses at Okanagan College.

This is a HUGE undertaking, as we have more than 2,000 courses at the College. But with your help, we can identify the courses and show the world what amazing sustainability curriculum offerings we have. We are asking all faculty and vocational instructors to please fill out a quick five-minute survey about the courses you have taught between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011.

The results of this inventory will be published on our website, and indicated beside each course in the official course calendar. The survey is available until March 30, 2011. Two random survey participants will win tickets to hear David Suzuki speak at an event on March 31. For more information, please contact Arnica Rowan.  

Fascieux Creek Clean Up

Join staff and students from Okanagan College in Kelowna on Wednesday, April 7 as they pitch in to clean up the waters and shores of Fascieux Creek. The clean up event will take place between 3-5 p.m. Volunteers are asked to meet at the blue bridge behind the City of Kelowna Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Please wear comfortable shoes or rubber boots and dress appropriately for the weather. The Regional Dean’s office will provide refreshments as well as garbage bags, gloves and safety vests. Please rsvp to Angie ext# 4501 if you plan to attend.

Interior Fitness and Therapist Assistant Conferences join forces

The fifth annual Interior Fitness Conference and the 12th annual Therapist Assistant Conference are joining forces this year. Both events will be held on May 6-7 in Kelowna. Events taking place on Friday, May 6 include nine different 4-5 hour workshops, among them are Running…Facts & Fiction and Food – It Matters: Healthy Choices for a Healthy Life.

On Saturday participants will have 20 sessions to choose from including Energize with Yoga, Dance OFF!, Making Friends with Food and The Neck/Shoulder Connection. Go online for complete information or to register. Questions? Email Helena. Tuition waiver forms are available here.

March edition of Reach Out now available

The Registrar’s Office has published the March edition of its newsletter Reach Out. Follow this link to find out the latest news from Education Council and the Registrar’s Office. Please continue to send feedback and topic ideas for the newsletter by emailing Inga. 
Reach Out can also be found online at:

Research Skills Survey

What research skills do college professors expect first-year students to have?

Finding answers to this question is the primary goal of the proposed Library Research Skills Survey, a collaboration within the Okanagan College Library Department between Jennifer Sigalet, Vernon Campus librarian, and Sherri Savage, a MLIS distance education student at San Jose State University, who is also an auxiliary in the Kelowna Library Circulation Area.    

The proposed survey aims to identify the expectations instructors have of first-year college students’ research skills. The proposed method of assessment is a multi-campus survey that will be distributed via email to Okanagan College instructional faculty in university transfer and business courses.

The results of the survey will assist the Library in continuing to develop and enhance its information literacy (research skills) programs through best practices as we support students in attaining their learning outcomes and educational goals.

The results will be shared with the Okanagan College community and as well with local teachers and teacher-librarians as the Library continues to develop collaborative bridging opportunities within the school districts. The proposed survey is expected to be available in mid-March.

Reserve a community garden plot

Interested in growing your own food and flowers? Good to Grow, Okanagan College's community garden in Kelowna, will be up and running by late May (weather permitting). Here is your chance to rent a 10' X 5' plot right on campus.

Located between the College’s facilities administration building and the KSS daycare, the community garden will provide an opportunity for staff to escape into nature while still on campus.

There are only three plots left, so please contact Justina at, to reserve yours.

Join Okanagan College for the 24-Hour Relay

The sixth annual Money Mart Easter Seals Okanagan Boys and Girls Club 24 Hour relay will take place June 11 – 12 in Kelowna. The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and ends at 10 a.m. the following morning. This year Okanagan College’s Campus Recreation team is challenging all those who took part last year to come out again.

The goal is to raise $5,000 (enough to send two kids to camp for a week.)

Okanagan College needs to put together a minimum of 20 teams of runners/walkers who are prepared to spend part or the full 24 hours at the Apple Bowl. There are lots of events, foods, bands and games to take part in during that time. 

If you are interested in signing up a team this year, please contact Jenn ( 4754) or Mike (4360).

Jet Propulsion scientist decodes comets in public speaker series

Dr. Paul Weissman, Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will present three public presentations next week in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton.

Weissman will unveil scientists’ understanding of the origin of the solar system through the investigation of comets. His talks will be presented at three different locations and dates:

11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m., Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - Kelowna campus lecture theatre (S104) 

7:30 - 9 p.m., Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - Vernon campus lecture theatre (D310) $5 in advance, $7 at the door

 7:30 - 9 p.m., Thursday, March 24, 2011 - Penticton campus lecture theatre (PL107 Ashnola Building)

Weissman was a co-investigator on NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter and is an Interdisciplinary Scientist on ESA’s Rosetta mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko; he is also a co-investigator on several Rosetta instruments. He is the author of over 115 refereed publications in the scientific literature and 30 popular articles, is an editor of the Encyclopedia of the Solar System (Academic Press, 2007) and co-author of The Great Voyager Adventure, a children’s book written with Alan Harris. Weissman received his Ph.D. in Planetary and Space Physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1978, and his A.B. in Physics from Cornell University in 1969.

To find out more about the presentations, read the complete press release. 

50/50 winner announced

Congratulations to Donna Lomas from the Regional Dean’s Office in Penticton, who won the Mar. 11 payday draw for $580.

All Okanagan College employees are eligible to participate in the Okanagan College Foundation 50/50 Staff Lottery. If you wish to sign up, registration forms are available from Dawn Douglas (Local 4774) in the Advancement & Alumni/Okanagan College Foundation office (located in P103, KLO Campus), from Human Resources.


Mar. 16 (Wed) ILLT Lunch and Learn (Salmon Arm) 

Supporting International Students with Jodi Kokonis and Donna McGrath, International Education, Okanagan College  (Room 143 12 – 1 p.m.)

Mar. 21 (Mon) Kalamalka Speakers Lunch and Learn Series presents "The Mind Matrix: New Light on Thought Energy" with Julie Larsen, a former teacher, group facilitator, and current host of the new Philosopher’s Café in Vernon. What do your thoughts have to do with your experiences? Take a single noon hour to discover the multi-faceted power of your thought life and how it affects not only your day-to-day experiences but your relationship world as well. Become aware of your conscious thought-energy so you can more readily change your old thought-patterns and thus put yourself in charge of the experiences you truly intend to manifest. Vernon Lecture Theatre 12:30-1:20 p.m.

Mar. 21 - Anti-Racism Day: Media Images and Race 1:30-3:30, Atrium, Centre for Learning (displays will be up until Mar. 24)
With media being so pervasive in our lives, it plays a central role in how we perceive different racial and ethnic groups, often leading to and perpetuating racism with its associated stereotypes. Come to the Atrium to discover some of the historical and contemporary depictions of various Canadian racial and ethnic groups, contrasted with the real lives of these diverse groups of people. Partake in an adaptation of the "Game of Life." Snacks and drinks will be provided for participants. Brought to you by students of Media & Society SOCI 216. For more info, contact Wilma.

Mar. 27 – Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race – register online at: or contact Michelle to volunteer.

Mar. 28 - Surviving the Transition 10:30-12:30, Atrium Centre for Learning, (displays will be up until Thursday Mar. 31). 
Ever wonder how you, your family and friends, neighbourhood or city might survive a crisis or disaster? Come learn about the following very real possible scenarios coming to a place near you sooner or later: peak oil, climate change (water shortage, food insecurity, natural disasters), economic meltdown and nuclear war, and see how you might survive or not the transition. Partake in an adaptation of the "Game of Life."  Snacks and drinks will be provided for participants. Brought to you by students of Introduction to Sociology SOCI 121. For more info, contact Wilma.

Mar. 28 - (Mon) Kalamalka Speakers Lunch and Learn Series presents "Medical Mercy Canada (MMC) goes to Nepal.” Susan Mann and Susan Wells share their fall-winter experiences as health care workers with Medical Mercy Canada (MMC) in Nepal in a baby wellness centre. In Canada Susan Mann is an RN who practices Public Health Nursing and Susan Wells works with traumatized newborns. Vernon Lecture Theatre 12:30-1:20 p.m.

Apr. 4 - (Mon) Kalamalka Speakers Lunch and Learn Series. "The War on Drugs and the Need for Reform” with David M. Kennedy. The failed drug war is costing us $320 billion worldwide per year. The effects are increased violence, cheaper and more available drugs, and warring cartels with thousands dying. Kennedy’s presentation will affirm the need for reform. Kennedy is a retired medical doctor, and also an accredited marriage and family therapist, who worked in India for six years, and practiced in Vernon from 1971 until 1999.  He did workshops at the Round Lake Native Alcohol and Drug centre for 12 years. Vernon Lecture Theatre 12:30-1:20 p.m. Okanagan College.

Apr. 7 (Thu) ILLT Lunch and Learn (Kelowna)         

Supporting International Students with Jodi Kokonis and Donna McGrath, International Education, Okanagan College (Lecture Theatre 12 – 1 p.m.)


Okanagan College hosted the 28th annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest on Friday, March 4. Read about the contest and the winners in: 14-year-olds shock older bridge builders, Unexpected champion, Student uses his noodles to win top prize, Students get a taste for science and technology at bridge-building competition, Spaghetti Bridge winners, and Spaghetti bridges will be put to the test.

The Okanagan College Students’ Union donated $37,000 towards the Centre of Excellence. Read about the announcement in: Students boost college fund or watch a clip from CHBC news.

The Regional Skills Canada competition for middle and high school students was held at Okanagan College on Friday, March 11. Read about the competition in: Students to test their trade skills and Skills tested.

A three-day social media bootcamp, Eat. Drink. Tweet., was held at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus that offered Twitter, YouTube and Facebook classes. Read more in: Social media not just for young people anymore.

Chef Perry Bentley won the Spirit of Kelowna Award. Find out more in the Business Thompson Okanagan article.

Okanagan College Culinary Arts instructor Geoffrey Couper is the president of the Okanagan Chefs’ Association. The association handed out awards and raised $5,000 to assist with community initiatives. Read more in Maxine DeHart’s column.

The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day was celebrated at Okanagan College in Penticton. Read more in: Okanagan College honouring International Women’s Day and check out a photo in the Okanagan Sunday.

Okanagan College and Kelowna Seniors Consulting will present a seminar to help families learn about housing options for their aging parents. To find out more and how to register read: Understanding the living options for nursing facilities is important.

Japanese exchange students had their flights home delayed in the wake of the earthquake in Japan last week. Okanagan College has contacted all of its Japanese students to see if they were able to contact their families in Japan. Read more in: Japanese students anxious for word about friends and family.

Former Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational programs, Stan Chung, wrote about the complexity and variety of maps in his Global Citizen column. Read more in: The map that contains all things.

Jane Muskens, Registrar, wrote about post-secondary students who transfer between institutions and urged they recognize the end of the journey is more important than the beginning. Read more in: Consider the end, not the start when switching colleges. The following week Muskens wrote about students who leave university or college and don't return. Read more in: Study delves into why students leave university or college.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and SIFE Okanagan will host the Green Business Awards in April to recognize sustainable and environmentally friendly companies and encourage others to go green. Finalists for the awards have been announced, read more in: Green Business Awards plant seed of awareness.

SIFE reps who mentor students involved in the high school Young Entrepreneur Competition received a donation from CIBC. See a photo in: Support for SIFE.

The Okanagan College Coyotes hockey team ended the regular season and will play again in the post-season tournament March 23-27. Read more in: OC Coyotes have to wait for rematch.

The Kelowna Seed Swap was held at Okanagan College on March 12 - Kelowna Seed Swap offers gardeners an array of options.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE?
Please email Public Affairs c/o Christine Ulmer. The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.