Solar panels power up College’s Kelowna campus

Solar Arrays KelownaOkanagan College has activated B.C.’s second largest solar panel system at the Kelowna campus, taking another large step towards its ambitious goal of seeking to be energy net zero by 2025. The 194 kW electrical solar power system is slightly smaller than the existing (and B.C.’s largest) 258 kW system on top of the LEED Platinum certified Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the Penticton campus.

The 793 solar photovoltaic module panels cover the top of the new outdoor training space at the College’s Kelowna Trades Complex and will provide the campus electricity power equivalent to what 26 homes consume in a year. When placed in sunlight, the crystalline silicon and glass panels produce direct current electricity (like a battery), which then goes into an inverter before being converted to usable electricity.

The array is part of the College’s larger sustainability plan that includes seeking LEED certification for its buildings and striving for the esteemed Living Building Challenge standards. The College is targeting to reduce its net carbon emissions by 80 tons per year, and is already well underway. From 2007 to 2013 the College successfully reduced its energy consumption per square meter by 32.2 per cent.

Read the press release here and to find out more about sustainability at Okanagan College, visit the website.

Vernon students get training while giving back
to the Food Bank

Class food bank constructionA group of students in the Vernon Residential Construction Program were recognized at a community BBQ event celebrating their contribution to building the new Lake Country Food Bank facility. Students stepped up to help the Food Bank by providing labour and materials to get the building to lock-up stage, a donation value worth approximately $15,000, all part of their hands-on training and education.

Food Bank Building Getting a head start, many of the students were part of the dual-credit program and still in high school. They learned practical skills for the construction workplace, with course credits counting both towards their high school graduation and their level one carpentry at the College.

To find out more about the construction project, view the news segment with and also with Global Okanagan.

Share your story at Connections 2015

Connections videoWith a theme of diversity, this year’s Connections employee learning conference will feature a video presentation that highlights the various paths employees and students take to Okanagan College.

Public Affairs will be producing the video again this year and is reaching out to employees who would like to share their story of how they came to arrive at Okanagan College.

Whether you are a new employee or a 30-year veteran, each of us has taken a unique journey to the College. If you would like to participate in the filming of the annual Connections video, please follow this link and provide Public Affairs with some information that will help coordinate the video shoot. Filming will take place during the first two weeks of August and segments will be filmed at each campus.

Serwa family supports trades training
at Okanagan College

Serwa DonationA generous $50,000 donation from one of the Okanagan’s most recognizable families will help support the construction of a state-of-the-art classroom space in the new Trades Training Complex in Kelowna.  

Lois Serwa in an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College (2006). Cliff is best known for co-founding Big White Ski resort and for his work as a political figure in British Columbia from 1986 to 1996. Together, the Serwas have demonstrated a significant commitment to the College. Beyond the trades, the family supported students in 2007 when they established an annual bursary for students enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program.

The Serwas recognized the College for giving students, young and old, opportunities to better their lives through education. They acknowledged that the new facility will support 2,400 students per year through training leading to brighter futures, ultimately helping with the projected provincial skills gap.

To read the press release, click here and for more information about the Bright Horizons Building For Skills Campaign, visit the website.  


Lisa Kraft new interim Associate Dean, Science, Technology and Health

Lisa KraftStarting on August 4, Lisa Kraft’s new role at the College will be interim Science, Technology and Health (STH) Associate Dean, a role that will go through until June 2016. Lisa has been a faculty member in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) department since 2012 and taught in other health programs at Okanagan College prior to her full time appointment. Lisa has extensive experience in a variety of roles  including nursing practice, education and management as well as consulting with health care facilities for accreditation.
In addition to her operational role within STH she will be leading various health accreditations processes over the course of the next year.

Based at the Kelowna campus, Lisa can be reached at or extension 4857

Sajni Lacey joins the Library Services department

Sajni Lacey 225 H
Sajni Lacey started her position as Public Services and Business Liaison Librarian on June 15. She is replacing Lindsay Willson, who is on maternity leave. Sajni completed her Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) at Western University in London, Ontario in 2013 and worked as Public Services Librarian at Lakehead University (Thunder Bay) in 2014-15. Sajni will be based at the Kelowna campus for the duration of her appointment, until March 2016.

Sajni can be contacted at or at extension 4624.

Salmon Arm students recognized
for their achievements

SA AwardsForty-seven North Okanagan students from were honoured with scholarships and bursaries at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm Campus awards ceremony in June.  Throughout this year, more than $75,000 will be disbursed to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.

Laureen Shannon was one of five recipients of the Al Neale Bursaries valued at $1,500. A single mother to three children, Shannon says the bursary helps in more ways than one: beyond alleviating financial stress and setting an example for her sons, she is inspired by the generosity from the broader community to support her pursuit of education.

Shannon is pursuing a Business Administration diploma, and she hopes to go on to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Human Resources Management at the College.

To read more about awards ceremony and other award recipients, read the press release here.

Belles of the Ball take Bocce trophy

Bocce 2Another season of OC Bocce at the Kelowna campus has come to an exciting conclusion with the championship trophy being awarded to Belles of the Ball (Michele McCready, Laura Berntzen, and Diane Adair) after a neck and neck battle with Pinky and the Brain (Allan Hickey and Rachel Bohn). While Pinky led the standings through most of the round robin regular season, the underdog Belles managed to advance to the championship final, which was held on June 26. In a last minute turn of events McCready sprained her finger before the semi-finals and Adair was subbed in to bolster Berntzen's on-the-button placement with plenty of masterful moves of her own.
Bocce 1This year was the busiest Bocce season yet, with over 125 official games played. With two matches a week during the round robin games in early spring, every team had an opportunity to play against one another. It was a successful and fun season that was both demanding and engaging. In Bocce, anything can happen: this isn’t lawn bowling folks, and unexpected pine cone deviations are all part of the game.

Ben Klick sets his sight on country stardom

Ben KlickAudio Engineering and Music Production (AEMP) graduate Ben Klick is poised to play alongside Canadian greats at Country Music Week in Halifax this September, having won a province-wide competition. The 19-year-old West Kelowna resident was the winner of British Columbia Country Music Association’s (BCCMA) Spotlight Performance Contest.

In advance of taking the national stage, Klick will be a familiar face around the Interior this summer as the guitarist and singer-songwriter performs at festivals ahead of the launch of his band’s new EP, which will be recorded in Nashville in July and released in August.

You can catch the country singer, who recently completed the AEMP certificate with Continuing Studies, at a dozen performances lined up over the summer, including:  West Kelowna’s Music in the Park on July 3, the Country, Beer and Barbecue Festival at Big White Ski Resort on July 4, and Rockin' River Country Music Festival in Merritt, July 30 to August 2.

Klick credits the College’s audio engineering program for accelerating his career as an artist. In particular he found great value in learning the essential business skills needed for an artist breaking into the music business, and to achieve dreams of success.

Click here to read the press release about Ben Klick’s success and his experience studying at Okanagan College.

Adult Special Education students honour history

ASE ClassAs a culmination of their learning, Okanagan College students from the Adult Special Education department’s course “History of People with Disabilities in BC” went on a field trip to Tranquille Farm in the Kamloops area. Previously, the farm was a care institution for people with disabilities. In recognition of the history, the students, accompanied by College Instructor Wanda Radies, planted a rose bush and installed a commemorative plaque.

This was the first class taking the new course, with the curriculum developed by Radies, who also published a book titled “The Power of Identity - The Pride and History of People with Intellectual Disabilities.” The course was taught at the College’s Salmon Arm campus.

June 30, 2015, Vol. 10, Issue 7


Statutory holiday closure

Okanagan College will be closed Wednesday, July 1 in observance of the Canada Day statutory holiday.

Little Scholars YMCA (Kelowna campus) summer and fall programs

Registration for the YMCA's Little Scholars Summer Kinderprep programs at the Kelowna campus is now open. The program is for children ages 4-5 who will be entering Kindergarten in September 2015 or 2016. There are eight Kinderprep camps (10 spots in each) that run during the summer from July 6 to August 29.

Registration for the fall Preschool program (ages 3-5) is also now open. Little Scholars Child Care & Preschool provides child care services for children aged newborn to 5 years.  To register or for more information, visit the website or call 250-491-9622, extension 237.


Register for Connections 2015

Aug. 18 -19 – Join your colleagues at the College’s 10th annual employee learning conference taking place at the Kelowna campus from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Employees can register for one of the two days here

Each day will have a similar agenda: an overview session at 9:30 a.m., followed by a morning workshop, lunch to be provided, and an afternoon workshop.  Concluding the day is a social event featuring appetizers and samples from the Okanagan: Big Surf, Rider Cider, and Okanagan Spirits. This is an opportunity to connect with your peers, have fun, and celebrate the OC network.

To plan your day, see full descriptions of each workshop on the Workshop Planner.

Explore effective learning & teaching environments “Planting the Seeds” event

Aug 24 and 25 – New and continuing faculty are invited to participate in a two-day interactive workshop held at the Kelowna campus that will focus on creating effective learning and teaching environments. The "Planting The Seeds" event is presented by Learning and Teaching and IT Services.

Much like planting a seed and watching it grow, learning and teaching provides a rewarding, organic experience of growth. This two-day workshop will look at the multiple topics to foster learner centered educational environments.

Register for the event by emailing Carla Whitten. Questions about the event can be directed to Ross McKerlich at ext. 4921. 

Tiltshift Conference, save the date

The first annual Tiltshift Education Technology Conference at Okanagan College will be held on Friday Sept. 25 in the evening, and continue throughout the day on Saturday Sept. 26. The conference is presented by Learning and Teaching and IT Services.  

Conference sessions will explore themes including making the classroom a better place to be, learning online, new and improved tools for student learning, and technology leadership.

Registration will open July 10, and the fee to attend the conference is $50.
For further information please visit the Tiltshift website or contact Ross McKerlich


An information night being held for prospective students and their parents to find out more about the new ArtsX program at the College was shared with Vernon Morning Star readers on June 26.

The success of Okanagan College’s graduating trades student at the Skills Canada National competition was noticed by the Vernon Morning Star, which featured Vernon resident and gold medal winner in electronics Josh Wams in a June 21 article in print and online.

The final 2015 Convocation ceremony celebrating College graduands and Honorary fellow Rick Pushor was noted in a Penticton Herald brief on June 25.

Getting a jump-start on trades skills, the Salmon Arm Observer featured students Dayne Steiger and Aidan Miege-Moffat who completed pre-apprenticeship trades course as part of the dual credit programs offered at the College, counting towards both their high school graduations and post-secondary credits in a recent article in print and online.

Supporting trades students, the generous $50,000 donation from Cliff and Lois Serwa to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign was captured by the Kelowna Capital News in a June 26 article. also ran a story sharing the good news.

The Kelowna Daily Courier’s reporter Steve MacNaull highlighted the Serwa donation and noted the 13 similar donations to date to the campaign, including the one from Team Construction in his Valley Views June 26 column. The same newspaper also reported the campaign surpassing the $4 million mark in the June 29 print edition and online.

The Kelowna Daily Courier online published a story about the College’s trades students lending a helping hand to the community, while gaining valuable on-the-job training through the construction of the Lake Country Food Bank.

KelownaNow interviewed Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship, in a video segment that included a tour of the Trades Complex currently under construction.

The Kelowna Capital News shined a light on the College activating B.C.’s second largest solar panel system at the Kelowna campus in the Solar panels power up local campus article. Castanet ran an editorial story online titled Energy from the heavens.

Alex Atamanenko, MP for the British Columbia Southern Interior, authored a contributed editorial in the Rossland Telegraph about sustainability at Okanagan College and wrote about his recent visit to the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.

A Splatsin Nation elder who returned to the classroom 40 years later at Okanagan College was featured in articles in the Vernon Morning Star and also the Kelowna Capital News.

The Osoyoos Times celebrated Aboriginal students graduating from high school in a June 24 article, including Barnabas LaFlamme who will be attending Okanagan College starting in the fall.

Okanagan College and UBCO have signed an international charter for health promotion, well being, and sustainability on campuses and in the community. The signing ceremony took place during the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges hosted at UBCO in late June and was reported both in print and online by the Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald. The Kelowna Capital News shared the news online.

The Kelowna Capital News helped spread the word that Okanagan College was looking for host families in Kelowna for international students as part of the Homestay program in the June 17 print edition.

To help generate votes, KelownaNow shared the news of AEMP student Ben Klick setting his sights on country music stardom and his need to win a provincial contest in order to play on the national stage at a music festival in Halifax this fall.

The Kelowna Daily Courier's Steve MacNaull shared news that Okanagan College School of Business alumnus Drew Vincent joined the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission as the new Okanagan Young Professionals Collective Coordinator in his June 24 Valley Brief column in print and online.

Vernon Morning Star’s gardening columnist Jocelyne Swell recapped a recent tour to the College’s Vernon campus Kalamalka Demonstration Garden and Patchwork Farms in her weekly column on June 17 online.

Fifty years ago, Okanagan College was considering 21 possible sites for its Kelowna campus, as noted in the Kelowna Daily Courier's June 24 A look Back at Life on this Day in History column.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Axelle Bazett.

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 July 14, 2015