Penticton Child Care Centre named one of Canada’s most sustainable buildings

OC Little Learners AcademyThe 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.

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.

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).

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.

Read the full story here.

OC researcher’s new works put outdoor play in Canadian context

Beverlie DietzeOC Director of Learning and Applied Research Dr. Beverlie Dietze has studied children’s outdoor play theories and behaviours in countless settings in the Okanagan and across Canada. Her observations have fueled two new works that are part of a new collection designed to inspire Canadian early childhood educators to join the outdoor play movement.

Less than a year after the publication of their book Empowering Pedagogy for Early Childhood Education, Dietze and co-author Dianne Kashin have published an all-new text entitled Outdoor & Nature Play Early Childhood Education through Pearson Canada.

“This book was informed by movements around Indigenous education and environmental sustainability in Canada, along with a wide array of outdoor play concepts,” explains Dietze. “We’ve looked at how – and for how long – children play in natural play settings versus traditional play spaces, and shared findings we hope will help more and more educators provide children with meaningful outdoor play opportunities.” 

Since becoming Director of Learning and Applied Research at the College, Dietze has garnered more than $350,000 for outdoor play related research projects.

Read the full story here.

Community support continues to pour in for Vernon Trades Training Centre

Trades Training Gift - PostillTwo longstanding Vernon businesses with deep roots in the community have jointly donated $25,000 to the new Trades Training Centre currently under construction at the College’s Vernon campus. 

R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. and Postill Nixon Earthworks are helping provide a strong foundation for the next generation of skilled trades workers in a community they know and love. The owners of the second- and fourth-generation family businesses have operated companies in Vernon for nearly 120 years.

“We work in trades and we know the value of having skilled trades people,” says Postill Nixon Earthworks co-owner Braden Nixon. “This state-of-the-art Centre will provide an opportunity for young people to get a quality education locally without having to move away, saving them money and making education more accessible.”

The $6.2-million Trades Centre will have the capacity to train approximately 150 students per year and is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

Read the full story here.

Infusions unveils new Okanagan-inspired menu and summer hours

Infusions new hours - summerThose 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.).

“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 menu was carefully crafted with input from those who will be cooking it – the College’s Culinary Arts students. Another benefit for diners? Infusions is one of the few restaurants in the valley that doesn’t charge corkage fees if you want to bring your own B.C. VQA wine.

Read the full story here.

Preparation has begun on the new Health Sciences Centre

Elder Grouse smudging ceremonyPreparation for construction on the new $18.9-million Health Sciences Centre at the Kelowna campus kicked off last week with a traditional smudging ceremony.

The ceremony began with a blessing by Westbank First Nation Elder Grouse Barnes. He blessed the land, the new building, employees, workers and all of the students who will occupy the new building. Elder Barnes then walked across the soon-to-be construction site and offered his blessing to the land and environment.

Employees were invited to the smudging ceremony as well as a series of information sessions held on June 19 and 20. The project is anticipated to be completed in late spring 2020. 

During construction, fencing will be in place between the C building and the Cafeteria and employees, students and the public are being asked to stay clear of the area for everyone’s safety. Please direct questions about the building or construction to the Central Okanagan Regional Dean’s Office.

SCMT info session showcases opportunities in green building

SCMT info night iocAaron Spohr’s experience in the Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) program opened his eyes to a new career and changed the way he looked at the world. An upcoming info session at the Penticton campus is inviting others to follow in his footsteps and join the next wave of sustainable construction managers.

The session is taking place on Wednesday, July 4 from 6 – 7 p.m. in the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence. Attendees will have a chance to meet instructors and learn about the College’s two-year SCMT diploma program which provides graduates the technical knowledge, business savvy, and practical skills required to effectively manage construction projects of varying size and complexity.

Aaron Spohr is one of those grads who has used the program to grow his career locally. While still a student, he was hired on as a Project Coordinator for Ritchie Custom Homes. He graduated last summer and is now a Project Manager.

“I want to be on the right side of history,” says Spoor. “The time is now for us to look at how we can build in a more sustainable way. More and more people in the industry are getting onboard, so we definitely need people with the skills and knowledge to make it happen.”


“It’s very gratifying to get to go to work every day and know you’re part of building a home that can have the least impact on the environment while being a beautiful, functional custom home for someone.”

Read more in the media release.

Okanagan College Foundation welcomes new board members

sherri hamilton iocThe Okanagan College Foundation recently welcomed to its board five new directors who collectively bring diverse experience and community impact across a wide array of sectors from health care and technology to entrepreneurship, human resources and finance.

The new directors joining the Foundation board are:

• Paulo Araujo, Vice President of Retail and Business Banking at Valley First (South Okanagan)

• Sheri Hamilton, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (Shuswap-Revelstoke)

• Dr. Gerry Karr, a former Penticton doctor and cofounder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition (South Okanagan)

“It’s wonderful to welcome committed industry leaders from up and down the valley to our board,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation.

The new board members join current board directors Chris Derickson, Surej Dhillon, Bob Eby, Colin Edstrom, Gladys Fraser, Kimberly White Gilhooly, Jim Hamilton, Rob Phare, Alan Sanderson, Sharron Simpson, and Tom Styffe.

Read the full story here.


Young OC alumni honoured for community impact

Brea and DrewOC alumni Brea Retzlaff and Drew Vincent have earned top honours from the College for their outstanding contributions to the local tech and business communities.

The duo are this year’s recipients of the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s (OCAA) Young Alumni Awards, an award that acknowledges alumni who demonstrate excellence in leadership, environment, business or industry, public or community service or arts. The OCAA has been conferring these awards since 1964 and this year marks the first time in the awards’ history that two Young Alumni Awards have been given out.

Retzlaff completed her Business Administration degree in 2013 and got an early start working in the tech-industry immediately after graduation. Now the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (AO) – a tech accelerator organization that helps coach and mentor local entrepreneurs – Retzlaff helps lead AO’s strategic direction and contributes a strong voice to the booming Okanagan tech-sector.

Vincent completed his Business Administration degree in 2014 and is a former President for Enactus OC. He is well known for his contributions to a number of youth initiatives and social enterprises – as well as being a champion for sustainability in the region.

Read their full bios in the media release here.

Alumnus returning to OC as Vice President

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

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.

“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.”

Read the full story here.

OC culinary student finds recipe for success, wins trip to Italy

Erin MacDougallOC Level 2 Apprentice culinary student Erin MacDougall cooked her way to victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy at the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition on Friday, June 22.

The competition saw four OC students design and prepare their own Italian-themed menu. They were tasked with creating a main entrée featuring arctic char and a dessert, all in a little over two hours.

MacDougall’s winning dishes consisted of oak crusted arctic char, mushroom risotto, sautéed eggplant, seared asparagus heads, fennel, citrus slaw and golden beets laid onto of a vibrant spread of asparagus coulis. For her dessert, she presented crepes with a lemoncello lemon curd, whipped mascarpone, macerated raspberries and candied hazelnuts.

While cooking and preparing their dishes, competitors were judged on their technical skills, station organization, safety and sanitation. Their final dishes were then judged on presentation, timing, doneness, innovation, textures and portion sizes during a blind tasting evaluation.

Read the full story here.

A new role for a familiar face

Laura ThurnheerSomeone familiar to many Okanagan College employees is about to start a new role as the Associate Dean of Science, Technology, Health and Social Development (STHD). 

Laura Thurnheer, the outgoing Chair of the Okanagan School of Business, will be starting her job on July 3. Thurnheer, who has been a professor since 2007, is also completing her second term as a faculty-elected representative on the Okanagan College Board of Governors.

For her part, Thurnheer is excited to immerse herself in the new portfolio. “As a Board member and having helped initiate and organize the Employee Excellence Awards program, I’ve come to appreciate the breadth and complexity of the College. I look forward to broadening my perspective, putting my leadership skills to work as Associate Dean and helping continue to build another vital part of the institution.”

Education is prescription for grad’s career fulfilment

Lonie ReimerLonie Reimer knew she wanted to be a Health Care Assistant at a young age, a long-time dream that will become reality on June 26 when she crosses the stage and receives her credentials at Okanagan College’s Vernon ceremony.

Tuesday’s ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Greater Vernon Recreation Centre and will see students from Business, International Development, Education Assistant, Adult Special Education, Health Care Assistant, Arts, Sciences and more receive their credentials.

Reimer has already found work in the healthcare industry and currently works as an HCA in a private group home for people with special needs and at a senior’s home. She credits her training and practicum – which saw her spend eight weeks honing her skills at four different care facilities – for the success and rewarding feeling she gets after each shift.

The Vernon Convocation ceremony on June 26 marks the sixth of eight annual ceremonies the College will host this year. Students will hear from Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono, an advocate for Aboriginal peoples and SD #22 Trustee, who will be recognized at the ceremony as an Honorary Fellow – the highest honour bestowed by the College. 

Read the full story here.

Myrah invites participation in Journey Home

Kyleen MyrahOkanagan College School of Business professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah is inviting Okanagan College and the community to continue to be engaged with the recently approved strategy and be part of the next steps for Journey Home – a 5-year strategy to address homelessness in Kelowna.

On Monday, Kelowna City Council endorsed the strategy which Myrah and co-chair Martin Bell developed following extensive study and community consultation over the past year. The $47-million strategy includes an action plan to guide building a system of care that is projected to support over 2,100 individuals into housing or support programs by 2024. The key priorities include the addition of 300 new long-term supportive housing units, 500 new support program spaces, the creation of a backbone organization to lead the strategy implementation, and a funding structure as the strategy designed to tap into several different financial sources. 

"We've learned in creating this strategy that it's as much about bringing the community together as it is creating a guiding document," says Myrah, Journey Home co-chair. "The response we've received from the community has been truly inspiring, from those who work closest to homelessness, to the engagement of those who've never really been part of a conversation."

"I hope students and employees at Okanagan College will be part of that conversation and action as we begin the next phase, which is creating an organization to lead and roll out the strategy, called a backbone organization," adds Myrah.

The full strategy is available on the Journey Home webpage. For more information, please email Kyleen Myrah.

June 26, 2018, Vol. 12, Issue 12


Connections registration open

Registration is open for the College’s 13th annual employee learning conference held at the Vernon campus this year and sessions are filling up fast. Connect face-to-face with colleagues from different departments and campuses while celebrating the strengths and diversity of the people who work here. Employees will enjoy a series of interactive and social activities, fun informative workshops and hear from OC President Jim Hamilton. Free bus rides are available to and from Connections from your home campus.

Click here for the workshop schedule and click here to register.

Health and Safety inspections occurring

Okanagan College is obligated to conduct regular health and safety inspections as per WorkSafeBC regulations. Members of the local Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committee will be conducting the 2018 Health and Safety inspections at all campuses between now and the end of November. Your cooperation in assisting the JOHS Committee members is greatly appreciated. 

Any health and safety observations or concerns identified by the JOHS members during the inspections will be noted on an inspection checklist and appropriate actions will be taken if needed. If you or your department has identified any areas of concern you want to bring to JOHS’ attention, please use this online form.

Remember that you should always report any safety issues requiring immediate attention to your supervisor.

Food truck schedule for Kelowna campus

The summer-time food trucks are back at the Kelowna campus in front of the Centre for Learning building. All trucks are on campus from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Times may vary.

Monday & Friday – Wicked Peach Food Co.
Tuesday – Peter Ze German Street Food
Wednesday – CrAsian Food Truck
Thursday – Boneyard BBQ & Grilling

There will also be Via Cocoa Creamery on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Kelowna campus fitness facility closures

The Kelowna campus Fitness Facility will close on Friday, June 29 at 5 p.m. for the entire July long weekend. The Facility will reopen at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 3. At this time, the July and August schedule will go into effect and will be open Mon - Fri from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. The facility will not be open during the weekend.

Motorhome and vehicles for sale

The Okanagan College Foundation and Supply Management, in conjunction with the Collision Repair Trades department, are presently offering a vehicle for sale.

All bids can be delivered in person to Okanagan College Supply Management, P Building – P111, Kelowna campus.

Succeeding at Work

For the month of June, the College’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) features Succeeding at Work. Success in today’s workplace means being a focused and productive self-starter, having strong communication skills and being a team player that others can count on. LifeWorks can help you thrive – visit online or call toll-free, anytime at 1-888-307-0590.

Retirement celebration

Come and join Diana Thomson celebrate her retirement on June 28. Drop-in anytime between 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the International Kitchen, E108 at the Kelowna campus.


SPOKE Literary Festival

Aug. 10-12 – The third annual Spoke Literary Festival is happening in Vernon from Aug. 10-12 and the College’s Vernon campus will once again host a number of workshops during the festival including four writing workshops and two literary and social gatherings. Learn more, find speakers/presenters and register by July 31 on the website.


KelownaNow, Castanet and the Daily Courier reported on OC student and Level 4 Carpenter apprentice Lukas Pfob who won a silver medal in the Skills Canada National Competition in Edmonton on June 4-5.

OC Level 2 Apprentice culinary student Erin MacDougall cooked her way to victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy at the third annual Road to Riccione Cook-off competition. The Summerland Review, Castanet and KelownaNow all shared details about MacDougall’s winning dish and upcoming trip.

One of the College’s earliest graduates, Betty Schley made Arizona’s Glendale Star in recognition of her long-time 53-year career as a nurse. Nicknamed ‘Nurse Betty,’ Schley completed her LPN at the College in 1965 and continues to work when most people in her career would be retired by now. 

ELearning Inside News shared information about which post-secondary facilities people can learn about cannabis, including Okanagan College’s new business course, The Emerging Marijuana Industry.

The Penticton Western News shared details about a mini powwow that took place on National Indigenous Peoples Day. The event was hosted at the Shatford Centre and the College was part of the organizing team.

The Little Learners Child Care Centre at the College’s Penticton campus won the Institutional (Small) Award at the 2018 Canadian Green Building Awards. The Penticton Western News, Summerland Review, Penticton Herald and Castanet shared information about the daycare and the award.

Castanet noted the recent $25,000 donation to Vernon’s new Trades Training Centre fundraising campaign. The donation was jointly presented by two local businesses with deep community roots, R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. and Postill Nixon Earthworks.

The Okanagan Weekend shared the news that the College’s restaurant, Infusions, will be open in the summer for the first time ever and has launched a new menu to match.

The Daily Courier profiled OC alumnus Curtis Morcom who is returning to the College as Vice President, Employee and Corporate Services this August.

BreakOut West: Canadian Music Festival & Conference is coming to Kelowna in October and OC alumnus and award-winning country musician Ben Klick is performing at the event. The Capital News and the Daily Courier shared details of the 3-day festival and list of performers.

The Penticton Herald helped announce the region’s newest published authors, a class of Grade 4 students from Queen’s Park Elementary. The class was helped through a new initiative from the College’s Enactus team that wanted to develop a hands-on way for students to think about literacy.

Okanagan College Honorary Fellow (2010) Dorothy Tinning, a former mayor of Penticton, traded in politics for the world of art and was recently been interviewed by the Penticton Herald as part of a series of interviews with the city’s former mayors.


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

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 10, 2018.