Employee Excellence Awards nominations deadline is fast approaching

Employee Excellence logo Mar 2014The Okanagan College Employee Excellence Awards program recognizes the exceptional contributions made by employees. If you know colleagues that go above and beyond in their work at the College, then nominate them for an award before midnight Mar. 31.
For the many employees who have been recognized in previous years, the Employee Excellence Awards signalled much valued recognition for the efforts and energy they have invested in their careers.
“As a college professor, my greatest reward is to feel I may have contributed in some modest way to student success. It was an honour to have these efforts recognized by my colleagues,” says Carl Doige, Chemistry Professor and winner of a 2012 Employee Excellence Award for Teaching Excellence. 

“Most importantly, it is also a privilege to work with so many colleagues who are also very deserving of recognition.”
To help acknowledge the efforts of the many other deserving College employees, awards in nine categories are open for nominations. Find the award category descriptions here.
In addition, if you or someone you know has hit a Milestone—recently acquired credentials, scholarly activities and other personal or community contributions of note—submit it for recognition as well.
Nominations close at midnight on Monday, Mar. 31. Find the nomination forms here.
The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 21, at the Kelowna campus.

Aboriginal students recognized for their achievements

Aboriginal Recognition Ceremony 1The fifth annual Aboriginal Student Recognition Celebration took place on Mar. 22 in the Lecture Theatre (S104) at the Kelowna campus. Approximately 130 people attended the event.

The afternoon program opened with a prayer and welcome from Elder Grouse Barnes from Westbank First Nation.

Jim Barmby, Okanagan College Regional Dean of the Shuswap-Revelstoke region spoke to the students about the importance of getting an education and congratulated them on their achievements.  

The program included a performance by the award-winning Akachuk family hoop dancers and the keynote speaker was author and Chief of the Soda Creek Indian Band, Bev Sellars.

Sellars recently won the 2014 George Ryga Award for her book, They Called Me Number One, about her experiences in the residential school system. She has a history degree with a minor in political science from UVic and a law Degree from UBC. Sellars has served as advisor for the B.C. Treaty Commission and spoken out on behalf of her community on racism, residential schools, and on the environmental and social threats of mineral resources exploitation in her region.  

“Sellars was inspiring and delivered a powerful message to students,” said Gail Smith, Aboriginal Transitions Planner.

“She said that while you may face hardships when you are obtaining your education, it’s by overcoming obstacles that you become real winners.”

Aboriginal Recognition Ceremony 2Three graduating students addressed the group about their journeys at Okanagan College: Courtney Campbell, Bachelor of Business Administration, Ashley Maas, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Terrena Buck, Associate of Arts degree.

Coralee Miller and Tina Miller were recognized for the support they give students and their participation in the Idle No More Teach In that was held at the Kelowna Campus on Jan. 28. Coralee designed the artwork and Tina was instrumental in getting staff, students, faculty and community members involved in the event. Both students have been invited to the 2014 President’s Dinner for Student Ambassadors on Mar. 27. 

After the ceremony, attendees enjoyed a reception with light refreshments and Indian Tacos.

A total of 30 students were recognized at the event. (Photos taken by Levi Sapach.)

College signs agreement with University of the Fraser Valley

Okanagan College OC MOU Fraser ValleyOkanagan College and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) have committed to working together on agricultural programming in Salmon Arm after signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Mar. 21.

Specifically, the partnership formalizes a path for the two institutions to maximize the use of their resources, collaborate on planning, share ideas and promote learning opportunities through UFV’s new British Columbia Agriculture Centre of Excellence, which is being constructed in Chilliwack.

“Today’s MOU signing is a first step in the right direction for Okanagan College to deepen its relationship with our colleagues at the University of the Fraser Valley,” said Hamilton.

“UFV is being widely recognized as a leader in agricultural program development and delivery and their knowledge and experience is something Okanagan College can benefit from. We know there is collective and mutual value when we work together and I’m pleased to be moving forward with UFV.”

To read more, see the press release.

Heather Banham takes a lead role at CGA-BC

Heather BanhamUnifying the three accounting professions is Dr. Heather Banham’s big task as she takes on a new role as second vice-chair of the Certified General Accountants (CGA) of B.C.’s Board of Governors.

In 2013, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of B.C., the Certified General Accountants Association and the Certified Management Accountants Society of B.C. agreed to merge to form the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C.

“It’s an exciting and challenging time to be in this role, says Banham. “I’m looking forward to participating and making a contribution to this strategic vision, which will unify the three professional accounting bodies in British Columbia.”

Banham has worked at Okanagan College for 20 years and is currently Dean of the College’s School of Business and a Professor in the Business Administration department. Appointed Dean in 2010, she is formerly Associate Dean and Director of the “Building Small Business Human Resources” project.

The CGA-BC represents 11,000 CGAs and 5,000 CGA students in the province.

For more, see the press release.

Poetic prose under pressure

3hour poetry contestOkanagan College is holding a Three-Hour Poetry Contest on Apr. 3 on all four College campuses. This is the first annual test of poetic prowess, and was created in response to the success of the Three-Hour Short Story Contest.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Apr. 3, aspiring poets who are Okanagan College students or high school students in Grades 11 or 12, will have 180 minutes to create up to three original poems in the poetic form revealed at the beginning of the contest. Instructions will be provided.

“We wanted to reach young writers who prefer working in verse over prose,” says Okanagan College English Professor and event organizer, Kerry Gilbert.

“The benefit for students of participating in a contest like this is to flex their writerly muscles,” said Gilbert. “It’s a true test of a writer (poet or otherwise) to work in demanding writing situations. Sometimes the best work comes out of those moments.”

Five prizes are on offer. Each campus will declare a regional winner who receives a $250 Okanagan College tuition credit. A grand prize-winner will then be selected from among the four regional winners and awarded an additional $250 tuition credit.

 Registration is free.

Visit the website to sign up. Registration closes at noon on Wednesday, Apr. 2.

Employee Transportation Survey

Facilities Management is surveying employees about their transportation/commuting habits to help develop of a long term transportation strategy for Okanagan College.

To facilitate this, all employees are being asked to fill in a quick survey.

Click here to participate. Deadline is Apr. 9.


English instructor creates new skills assessment

Ruth ChambersThe Adult Academic and Career Preparation (AACP) department has recently introduced a new English Skills Assessment for incoming Okanagan College students. With the support of an Innovation Fund grant, AACP English instructor Ruth Chambers created the document to replace the previously used, American-made assessment tool. See it here.

“This assessment tool has more Canadian content, is more cost-effective, and is more applicable to students than the old assessment,” says Chambers.

“The old assessment cost was administered by a third party and cost about $2 per student, but the in-house tool is now free.”

Donors help students help seniors

OC Foundation Ashely HanerGenerous Okanagan College Foundation donors have given three students in the Health Care Assistant Certificate (HCA) program financial awards, plus a lesson in the value of caring for the elderly.

“It’s wonderful to see the number of you who are here – you don’t know how much you are needed,” donor Pat Underhill told HCA students.

“People are getting older and living a lot longer than they did way back when, so you won’t be wanting for a job,” Underhill said. “And I think it’s good to see so many men here too.”

Underhill established the $1,000 Pat Underhill Bursary after being impressed with the care her husband received in his final years. She presented her award to Ashley Haner, a 29-year-old student and mother of three.

“I’m ecstatic,” Haner said. “This money will help me to pay my student loan.”

OC Foundation Michael BarlettMeanwhile, Ray Bartlett presented the Fred and Margaret Coote Okanagan College Bursary to Michaela Bjork, a 20-year-old student who decided to enter the field after caring for her grandmother while she was at hospice.

“It’s amazing to receive this award,” Bjork said, after receiving the cheques for $700. “I live by myself and pay for everything myself, so I’m really excited.”

The Coote Bursary was established in 2002 with a $75,000 endowment made to the College. Since then, the fund has been able to provide in excess of 35 awards to students enrolled in the Health Care Assistant program.

Bartlett said his aunt and uncle were deeply involved in the local community, donating their time and energy to various organizations that helped the elderly – from Meals on Wheels to volunteering at Cottonwoods Extended Care Centre in Kelowna.

“They had quite an influence on me,” Bartlett said. “They were caregivers in their own right, and now these students are doing the same thing.”

Another student benefiting from donor generosity was Aubray Bell, who received the Charles Laird Memorial Award – one of three $500 Laird awards handed out to deserving Health Care Assistant students each year.

Business professor uses expertise to help women in Eastern Europe

Kyleen MyrahOkanagan College Business Professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah has been working with Invest for the Future (IFTF) in Croatia, a non-profit organization created by former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

Geared to improving the economic situation of women in southern and eastern Europe and Eurasia, the group hosts a series of events and initiatives that brings together women entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers. Myrah has been working with the group as its Canadian Coordinator and took a lead role at its annual conference in Zagreb earlier this month.

Myrah’s work with the IFTF involved mentoring entrepreneurs and helping to facilitate the annual conference, which took place earlier this month in Croatia’s capital city. She delivered part of the conference’s keynote address and participated in the press conference, and organized mentoring workshops for attending entrepreneurs on several topics, including public speaking, business financing, and marketing.

After the conference, Myrah took advantage of the opportunity to meet with the Canadian Ambassador to Croatia to support the IFTF work in the region, taught a class at the Zagreb School of Economics and interviewed local business owners for her ongoing research into social entrepreneurship.

“Without the support of Okanagan College, it would be impossible for me to make these kinds of contributions,” she says. “This has been an amazing experience and will help shape my work going work forward.”

Mar. 25, 2014 Vol. 8, issue 25


OC Mobile Developments

Okanagan College's free mobile app is now available for Windows Phone 8. 

Among the many other upcoming enhancements is the eagerly anticipated Moodle on Mobile, which could be available as early as this spring.

Healthy eating resources

Okanagan College's Employee and Family Assistance Provider (EFAP), PPC Canada, provides a wealth of information each month about an important issue regarding your health and wellbeing.

This month’s focus is strategies for maintaining a healthy diet. Read the March edition of the Balance Sheet newsletter for ideas on dining out healthily as well as tips for ensuring your nutritional plan is manageable.  

The webinar, "Simple, Healthy Eating Strategies," examines a variety of techniques to assist people to identify and reach their nutritional goals. It takes place on Mar. 26 at noon. To register for the free webinar, click here.

Call for nominations for ILT Fellows

The Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT) is seeking nominations for five new Fellows to serve three-year terms (June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2017) in the following areas:  

  • Trades

  • Science & Technologies

  • Continuing Studies

  • Employees with an Educational Focus in: the Learning/ Success Centres (Kelowna, Vernon), Ed Advising, HR Advising, Counselling and Aboriginal Advising
  • Employees with a Service Focus in: Student Services, Advancement, Admissions, Human Resources, Ancillary and Business Services, Financial Services, Registrar's Office and Directors' Offices

If you are from one of these areas and you are passionate about enhancing learning and teaching at Okanagan College, or know of a colleague who fits this description, please review the duties as outlined on the nomination form and submit. Each nomination requires two nominators and a statement from the nominee.

For additional information, please email Paul Stephenson or reach him at ext. 4928. For more information on the ILT, visit the ILT website.

Education Council Election Results

The results of the recent Education Council election are in and Drew McGillivray was the successful candidate for the Business Portfolio seat.

The following is a list of all the positions that were up for grabs this spring. All positions commence Aug. 1, 2014.

  • EDFP-1 Business: Drew McGillivray (elected)

  • EDFP-2 Arts: Matt Kavanagh (by acclamation)

  • EDFP-3 Science/Technology: Rick Gee (by acclamation)

  • EDFP-4 Health/Social Development: Vacant

  • EDFP-5 Trades: Corey Bransfield (by acclamation)

  • EDFP-6 Foundational: Nancy Noble-Hearle (by acclamation)

  • ESS-1 Support Staff: Kim Naumann (by acclamation)

  • ESS-2 Support Staff: Ardeth Anderson (by acclamation)

BBA Honours Program Presentations

Okanagan College's School of Business is holding its Bachelor of Business Administration Honours Presentations on Mar. 28 at the Kelowna Campus, Room E202, from 1-3:30 p.m. Spectators are welcome to attend. RSVP required, contact Jamie Morrow.


Annual Aboriginal Student Day Potluck

Okanagan College is hosting its ninth Annual Aboriginal Student Day Potluck in the cafeteria at the Vernon Campus on Apr. 3.

Last year, approximately 300 students, faculty, and staff along with members of the general public enjoyed this exciting event showcasing Aboriginal culture, dance and traditional artwork. This year, high school student dancers, hoop dancers, drummers and artists will also be attending and the Little Hawk Drum Group will be the host drummers. For more information, please contact Marilyn Alexis.

Penticton speaker series

Mar. 31: Virtual Geology Field Tour. Join Okanagan College Professor Todd Redding for a virtual field tour of Penticton geology. Redding will also demonstrate a new website,, which provides information about geology and natural history of the South Okanagan.

The free event takes place in Penticton’s Lecture Theatre at 7 p.m.

Bogeys for Bursaries

Registration is now open for the 23rd annual Okanagan College Foundation / Western Financial Group Golf Tournament on Thursday, May 22 at the Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna. Last year, proceeds from the tournament exceeded a record-breaking $53,000, which went to assist Okanagan College students through scholarships, bursaries and program support. Early bird rates end Apr. 11.
The registration form and sponsorship information are available here.

Questions can be directed to Dawn Douglas at ext. 4774.

Campus store sale and inventory closing

All of the Campus Store locations—Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Vernon—are clearing out inventory in March to make room for new arrivals. Until Mar. 26, score 25% off on clothing, giftware, and general interest books. Also, enjoy an additional 25% off clearance items.

After the sale, the Campus Stores will be closing for inventory on the following dates:

  • Vernon          Mar. 27-Mar. 31
  • Salmon Arm  Mar. 27-Mar. 31

  • Penticton       Mar. 27-Mar. 31
  • Kelowna        Mar. 28-Mar. 31
All Campus Stores will reopen on Tuesday, Apr. 1.

Register for half marathon, relay or 10 km run

The Okanagan College Half Marathon is looking for volunteers to help out with the race on Apr. 6.  Please contact Michelle Lowry for details.

For keen runners, registration is still open to participate in the race. Choose from one of three distances: half-marathon, the half-marathon relay and the 10 km run. Click here for more information and registration details.

Science in Society Speaker Series

Apr. 10: What's the Buzz in Bee Biology? Molecular biologist Dr. Leonard Foster will revel what threats bees are currently facing, why they are so important to agriculture and how research can improve bee health.

The event is free, sponsored by Genome, British Columbia and takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus Lecture Theatre.

For more information about the Science in Society Speaker Series, visit For tickets, call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644 or visit

Institute for Learning and Teaching

Apr. 15: Language Learning and Teaching in the Model Classroom. Task-based learning and teaching combined with technology-enhanced classroom environments have been shown to be an effective partnership for the process of language learning and language acquisition. 

Charlotte Jones, Professor, Modern Languages, will look at two of the tools in the model classroom from both the learner’s and the teacher’s perspectives through examples of interactive classroom tasks. This free event takes place at the Kelowna campus, E208, from 4-5 p.m.

OC4 Cyclosportif

The second annual three-day campus-to-campus ride, OC4 Cyclosportif, takes place Jun. 13-15. Riders of all abilities are welcome. Choose to ride one day or all three. Registration is $125 for the first day and $25 for each additional day. After May 1, price increases to $150. Includes gourmet post ride dinner each day, prize draws daily, aid stations and mechanical support. Rides back to campus of origin are available for a fee. Click here for details and to register.


Okanagan College History professor James Wood talks with CBC Daybreak about a voluntary battalion of First Nations soldiers who fought in World War One, but were denied citizenship rights at home, listen to the CBC Radio clip here.

The Skills BC competition at Okanagan College resulted in some big wins for high school students in the south Okanagan. See Osoyoos Secondary School students big winners in Okanagan College trades competition in Osoyoos Times.

Okanagan College English professor Alix Hawley's short story “Jumbo,” about a little girl who falls in love with an African bush elephant at the London Zoo, was shortlisted for the Canada Writes: 2014 Short Story prize, listen to her interview on CBC Radio here. See related media clippings, Writer vying for prize, Local author makes national writing competition, and Local author shortlisted for national writing contest.

Okanagan College’s Pharmacy Technician Program received national recognition, see Okanagan Pharmacy Technician program gains accreditation in Academica’s Top 10 on Mar. 18, as well as in local newspapers, see College program prescribed national accreditation, and Pharmacy technician program received national accreditation.

An MOU signed between Okanagan College and University of the Fraser Valley made headlines, see College, university sign agreement.

The benefits of RV-ing and details about the RV Lifestyle Show being held at Okanagan College in June was the focus of an article in Forever Young, see RV’s are A-OK.

Okanagan College is launching its first annual Three-Hour Poetry Contest, see College looking for poets to take the challenge in the Penticton Western News, and Write on: registration open for three-hour poetry contest in eVent.

Three books promoting social awareness have been shortlisted for Okanagan College’s George Ryga Award, see Shortlisted books announced for 10th annual George Ryga Award.

Spoken word artist and Okanagan College alumnus Shane Koyczan performed with the Okanagan Symphony and received rave reviews from local media, see Koyczan dominates in the Vernon Morning Star, and An evening to remember in eVent.

A Calgary writer is the next writer in residence of the Mackie Lake House, an initiative of Okanagan College, Kalamalka Press and the Mackie Lake Foundation, see Writer takes up residence at Mackie House.

The Okanagan College Red Dot Players presented their fourth stage production, The Government Inspector, see the Theatre section in the Kelowna Capital News.

Renee Sarojini Saklikar is a Vancouver poet who will visit Okanagan College on Mar. 27, see Critically acclaimed poet addresses Air India tragedy.

Enactus Okanagan College earned top honours at a regional Enactus competition, which will send them to the national competition in April, see College students win at entrepreneurship contest in the Penticton Western News, and Students earn spot in national event in the Vernon Morning Star.

The Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business has been elected to the board of governors of the Certified General Accountants of B.C., see Banham elected second vice-chair of CGA-BC in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Enactus Okanagan College held a Family Feud-style Charity Challenge to raise money for the North Okanagan Hospice Society, see Survey Says.

An Okanagan College student reaps rewards of college environment; see College information available in the Vernon Morning Star.

Dr. Jessica Grahn will appear at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus for a talk on music and neuroscience, see Professor discusses influence of music.

Okanagan College’s Registrar Jane Muskens discussed the accreditation of the Pharmacy Technician Program in her regular column in the Kelowna Capital News, see Assistance of technicians will let pharmacists focus on patient care.

The reputation of Okanagan College’s Therapist Assistance Program has been recognized nationally, see Therapist program gets accredited.

ASTTBC applaued Okanagan College for its skills training efforts in its association journal, see ASTTBC supports skills plan for B.C., Kelowna Leaders Talk Tech Education & Careers, and Okanagan College 50th anniversary honours ASTTBC officers.

A Grade 8 student from Lumby won top honours at the 2014 Spaghetti Bridge Contest at Okanagan College, see Youth earns heavyweight title.

Students from Okanagan College’s Esthetics and Nail Technology program were helping customers at the Body and Soul Wellness Fair in Vernon, see Body and Soul in the Vernon Morning Star.

Okanagan College’s offering of the International English Language Testing System was the inspiration for Ron Seymour’s column in the Kelowna Daily Courier, see Foreign students pay for more than themselves.

A university transfer information session took place at Okanagan College see, Feature Event in the Vernon Morning Star.

Okanagan College’s Vernon campus hosted speaker Jon Steinman, see Presentation deconstructs dinner.

Kelowna skicross racer, Olympic Silver Medalist and Okanagan College alumna Kelsey Serwa made headlines, see Champions, Everyone earned a share of Serwa’s silver medal, and Learn skicross from Olympian, all in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Okanagan College alumnus Diego Kohl performed with his mariachi band, see Mariachi master returns to Okanagan, and Diego Kohl steeped in music of Mexico.

Okanagan College was mentioned in the Kelowna Daily Courier’s look back 25 years ago, see Now it’s OUC.

The Okanagan Master Gardeners presented a seed conference and sale at Okanagan College, see Seedy characters.

Okanagan College in Penticton is offering women access to a special trades training program starting Mar. 31, see Okanagan College offering trades program for women.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Meredith Birchall-Spencer.

To ensure your submission is included, please send all details at least one day in advance of the newsletter’s publication.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Apr. 8, 2014.