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Okanagan College students win big with accessible tourism pitch
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Scholarship smooths road ahead for Okanagan College transfer student
Okanagan College Media Release

After being out of school for years, Blake Lewis is now well on his way to a career in the classroom, thanks to a spark of inspiration at Okanagan College and a boost from the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society.  

“It is a huge help in moving to a new city and community, and I don’t have to worry about the financial aspect,” Lewis says.

The Shuswap native had been working in pest control for years, but always felt the desire to explore his options. Attending professional training at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus inspired him to take action.

“I was hesitant about going back to school as a mature student. It was a big change, but ultimately, everyone at the Salmon Arm campus made it really easy for me,” he says. “I really enjoyed it, and have been trying to convince others to give it a go, too.”

He completed his Associate of Arts degree before transferring to Thompson Rivers University for this fall, in pursuit of a career in education. Lewis says the transition to university has been smooth academically and financially.

“College is a stepping stone on the path to success,” Lewis says. “For me, the scholarship also reinforced that the hard work I had invested into my education was paying off. It was a tough decision to go back to school, but this scholarship really showed me that the hard work was coming back to me.”

Lewis is one of 27 students from Okanagan College who received a $5,000 award from the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society, which are awarded annually to undergraduate students who have completed at least one year at a public post-secondary institution in B.C. and are transferring to another degree-granting institution to complete their studies.

This year, Okanagan College had the highest number of students in the province to receive the transfer scholarships in pursuit of educational studies.

“Ike Barber’s legacy of supporting students to fulfill their goals through post-secondary education in the province grows every year,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We’re deeply grateful to the Irving K. Barber Society for this continued investment in students at Okanagan College and so many other institutions. These scholarships create flexibility, mobility, and for many students, a life-changing opportunity to carry on their education.”

Scholarship funds come from the returns on a $15 million endowment established by the province in 2006. The fund is named after philanthropist Irving K. Barber who had a long history of supporting public education and research projects in British Columbia before his death in 2012. This year, the fund supported 171 transfer scholarships in the province, totalling $855,000.

Okanagan College student recipients for 2018 are: Martina Nenasheff (Armstrong); Cristian Kwasnek (Coldstream); Ashley Stocker (Kaleden); Annaka Wojciechowska (Kelowna); Carson Mintram (Kelowna); Cora Withers (Kelowna); Gabrielle Mendler (Kelowna); Garrett Kehler (Kelowna); Hayden Hanson-Street (Kelowna); Jenna Swett (Kelowna); Joshua Clark (Kelowna); Marissa Meyer (Kelowna); Marissa Pineau (Kelowna); Morgan Mathison (Kelowna); Muhammas-Bilal Madani (Kelowna); Quinn Krahn (Kelowna); Ross St. George (Kelowna); Bailey Hillman (Keremeos); Jamie Long (Keremeos); Melissa Fenton (Peachland); Julia Hudson (Penticton); Austin Phillips (Salmon Arm); Blake Lewis (Salmon Arm); Caitlan Gau (Sicamous); Sandra Johnson (Sorrento); Samantha Theobald (Trail); and Shelby Krywonos (Vernon).

To find out more information about the Ike Barber Transfer Scholarships, visit www.ikbbc.ca.

 

Okanagan College students win big with accessible tourism pitch
Okanagan College Media Release

The Winning Pitch Nov. 2018A junior team of four Okanagan College School of Business students have captured the regional title at The Winning Pitch competition for their innovative concept to expand accessible tourism opportunities in the Thompson Okanagan.

The Winning Pitch is a post-secondary student case competition presented by go2HR, British Columbia’s tourism human resources association. The competition was held at the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Summit in Osoyoos on Nov. 14 and tasked teams to develop an idea of a new tourism service that supports the development of accessible tourism opportunities in the province.

Second-year students Bryan Cresswell, Celina Matte, Emily Pilon and Zackery Plaxton made up the junior team entered by Okanagan College. They presented to a packed audience of local tourism stakeholders and judges on their winning idea, AccessFest – a seasonally inspired series of festivals for those with accessibility requirements.

“Tourism opportunities can be limited for people with accessibility requirements and a lot of regions in B.C. are actively working to improve on that,” says Pilon. “Our proposed festival focuses on highlighting regional aspects of B.C. specifically for those with accessibility requirements and the whole concept contributes to B.C.’s Accessibility Strategy to become a truly inclusive province by 2024.”

The team’s pitch focused on four seasonal festivals in four different locations across B.C. Opportunities to spotlight everything from fully accessible restaurants and hotels to ski resorts and wineries were part of the pitch. Each festival would also feature the various areas’ unique aspects of culture and tourism to develop unique visitor experiences that are more accessible and inclusive.

The junior team was joined on the podium by fellow students from Okanagan College.

OC’s senior team, consisting of Brittany Hemmerling, Nathan Ziebart, Jacob Pushor and Brett Loeppky, came in second after a close vote. Thompson Rivers University teams placed in third and fourth. Both College teams were coached by Okanagan School of Business Professors Blair Baldwin and Alan Rice.

“Both the junior and senior teams’ pitches were well received by the judges and Alan and I are very proud of their hard work and ambition,” says Baldwin. “This is the first time the students from the junior team have worked together and they found an immediate team chemistry. Each student comes from different specialty areas – marketing, finance and accounting – and they each brought something unique to the team.”

The competition required students to build a full business plan and seek feedback from real community stakeholders.

“After speaking with a few tourism stakeholders across the region, we found that what was really missing was a key driver that could influence the industry and create demand,” says Cresswell. “We started to think about an event that could be held regionally and could be scalable to a provincial level and that’s what sparked on the idea of AccessFest. After we developed the idea, we brought it back to those stakeholders and we were blown away with their support and desire to turn this idea into a reality.”

The team will now go on to represent the Thompson Okanagan region at the provincial finals, facing off against four other regional winners from across the province – but not before one last twist. All regional winners will be handed an extra challenge in January that teams will need to account for and build into their presentations at the provincial championship.

“The twist could be so many things so it’s hard to try to predict our challenge,” explains Pilon. “We’ve done our work and we’re actively preparing for provincials. Once we hear what the twist is, we’re going to further develop our concept and start building it into our plan.”

The provincial challenge takes place in February at the 2019 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Vancouver and teams will present to a panel of judges and an audience of more than 1,000 conference attendees.

 

OC profs’ approach to texts ease student costs
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College professors are helping to turn a new page in the rising costs of post-secondary education, giving students free access to online textbooks.

An online solution to lower post-secondary students’ costs is spreading at Okanagan College. Open Educational Resources – also known as OER – are high-quality resources (notably in the form of open textbooks) that are available in digital formats and at a very low cost to print.

The latest provincial statistics show Okanagan College ranks sixth in the province for open textbook adoption. By fall 2018, the College reported 147 courses that have adopted open textbooks, helping 2,875 students to save $437,212 (those numbers are up from 95 courses using online texts, 1,673 students impacted and a savings of $248,522 only a year ago). Many professors have committed to continue using and expanding their use of online texts at each of the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.

“It is fabulous to see initiatives like this become a reality,” says Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President, Education. “Student success is of the utmost importance to Okanagan College and the combination of better student learning with reduced costs is most welcome.”

Okanagan School of Business Professor Michael Orwick is one of many professors at the College who has introduced online textbooks to his classes and he can already speak to the educational benefits.

“Generally, the first mid-term grades in the Intro to Marketing classes I teach average 57 to 61 per cent,” explains Orwick. “This year, my first mid-term just averaged 73 per cent and I heard from students who said they felt the annotated textbook was a major reason for improved scores.”

Orwick has supplemented the text he is using – Principles of Marketing – with his own notes that provide students with additional insights into the subject matter.

“The textbook change for this class alone means a savings of $6,000 and every student is guaranteed to be able to get the textbook,” says Orwick. “There are four sections of this class running this term, so that adds up to $24,000 in savings just for this course. Next semester there may be 12 sections running which amounts to $72,000.”

The savings fit with the Province’s and the College’s agenda, as well as the Okanagan College Students’ Union, which presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government on Sept. 27 about the very issue.

“The high cost of textbooks has become a serious obstacle to accessing post-secondary education in B.C.,” says Jennifer Meyer, 2017-18 OCSU Board Member. “Textbook prices rose by 82 per cent between 2002-12 and now typically cost more than $200 per book. For the many students and families already struggling to afford education and the cost of living, this unpredictable expense can be a huge burden, causing students to take on additional debt or work longer hours for their required books.”

OC student Andre Dominguez is enrolled in Orwick’s Marketing class and has experienced the financial help that comes with the advent of online textbooks.

“The e-textbook has been a real asset because I can access it anywhere I go, both on mobile or on my laptop, and the fact that it was free is extremely helpful,” says Dominguez. “Expenses accumulate for college and it takes a toll on your bank account which brings unwanted stress that affects your personal and academic life.”

Not only do e-texts bring serious savings they also offer a custom approach to teaching and learning. Professors can annotate the online texts, leaving detailed notes, highlights, comments and provide specialized information. Students can choose to access the text online or can choose to have it printed from the College’s bookstore.

“It’s such an incredible bonus that my textbook is annotated by my professor,” explains Dominguez. “There is more retention when reading and I know I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am and learning as much if it wasn’t annotated. If every teacher had annotated textbooks, it would help students out very much.”

 

Health-care training in Vernon can kick-start new careers
Okanagan College Media Release

Health-care careers are calling, and Vernon residents considering change in the new year can dial in their options in early 2019.

An extra intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled for February, giving students in the North Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in B.C.

“Now is a great time to become a health care assistant. The need for health care assistants within the Interior Health region is growing. There are many opportunities for individuals who have this training and one can choose to work in a team environment in long-term care or one-on-one with clients in home support. It is a great career choice for those who enjoy working closely with others, and those who like making a positive impact on the lives of others,” says Shalan Hundal, Health Care Assistant Recruitment and Marketing Project Lead, Interior Health.

The HCA program is also being offered as a dual credit opportunity with School District 22.

According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.

“We’re hearing from our industry partners that employers in the Okanagan are desperate for health care assistants. Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College. “Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care.”

The College received $66,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Vernon, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.

An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in Room D343 of the Vernon campus, 7000 College Way. The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.

Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-545-7291, ext. 2309 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.

 

Dean of Business creates award for global education
Okanagan College Media Release

Business students at Okanagan College will have the opportunity to take their education to new heights thanks to an award established by Bill and Kathy Gillett. Bill is the Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business.Bill Gillett Giving Tuesday Nov 2018

The Gilletts have committed $20,000 to create the Okanagan School of Business Dean's Scholarship. The scholarship will provide two annual awards of $2,500 to third- or fourth-year business students who choose to study at one of Okanagan College’s 16 partner institutions around the world.

“Business is global, and I think it’s so important for students to have a multi-cultural experience,” says Bill.

“There is no such thing as local anymore. In business you could be competing with foreign companies, you might have suppliers overseas or customers overseas. I'd like to help students gain a better understanding of the world, especially if they haven’t had that opportunity.”

Bill, who joined the Okanagan School of Business in 2017, has been travelling and meeting with Okanagan College’s partner institutions to learn more about their programs. He says he’s impressed by the quality of the faculty, as well as expanding options for students to receive a dual degree.

Okanagan College offers a dual degree program with FH Worms University in Germany. The partnership allows an Okanagan College student to study for three years at Okanagan College and one year at Worms, and receive a bachelor’s degree from both institutions.

The College also recently announced a new partnership with École Supérieure D’Agricultures (ESA) in Angers, France, which allows business students interested in agriculture or viticulture to study for five years and receive a bachelor’s degree from the College and a master’s degree from ESA.

The Okanagan School of Business is also exploring setting up new partnerships, including a dual degree program offered at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

“The Gillett’s gift to the College is truly visionary,” says Kathy Butler, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director. “Making it easier for students to study abroad provides them with a much deeper understanding of the world, and makes the world a smaller place.”

Bill made his announcement as part of Okanagan College Foundation's Giving Tuesday campaign. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is a global day to remind people of the opportunity to participate in philanthropy, and to celebrate the positive effects that giving has on individuals and causes.

Okanagan College is celebrating Giving Tuesday to recognize faculty, staff and alumni who support its students and institution over the years. To learn more, click here
.

 


New agreement links Chinese school district, School District 23 and Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

MOC Signing Nov 2018A new partnership that spans the Pacific connects School District 23 and Okanagan College with one of the largest educational districts in one of the busiest cities in the most populous country on earth.

This week, School District 23 Superintendent Kevin Kaardal, Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Dongbiao Zeng, Director of the Education Bureau of Tianhe District, signed a Memorandum of Co-operation that will facilitate student and instructor exchanges and cultural development between the three partners.

The agreement follows on earlier agreements signed by the Province of British Columbia and Guangdong Province. The first sister provinces agreement was signed in 1995 and was followed by more detailed agreements in 2011 and 2016. The last inter-provincial agreement focused on two-way educational exchange and promotion.

“This commitment to co-operate opens the doors between ourselves and the Educational Bureau of Tianhe District,” notes Hamilton. “With this in place we can work to facilitate Chinese students from this region finding a receptive school district and college in the Okanagan, and our students finding educational opportunities in one of the world’s global economic nodes.”

“Our goal is to create cultural connections and paths that will strengthen our students’ sense of global citizenship,” says Kaardal.

The signing among the Central Okanagan School District, Okanagan College, and Tianhe is going to not only boost the synergy on research and development of high quality international education programs, but it will also help teachers and students from both countries to blend in each other’s education culture, in order to set up a new strategic education cooperation pattern,” explains Dongbiao Zeng, the Director of the Education Bureau of Tianhe District. “In recent years, Tianhe has been aiming at constructing a modern education system that matches the national core city status of Guangzhou. As the education quality escalates, Tianhe has become an industry model in not only Guangzhou but also South China.

The Tianhe District is one of 11 districts in Guangzhou city. Tianhe District’s population is estimated at 1.5 million people living in an area of 96.33 square kilometres. (In contrast, the Central Okanagan School District’s total population of approximately 180,000 resides in an area of approximately 2,861 square kilometres. The Okanagan College region serves approximately 400,000 people and covers 36,115 square kilometres.)

The Guangzhou metropolitan area has an estimated population of approximately 25 million and is one of China’s three busiest cities.

At the post-secondary level, the Tianhe district boasts 53 national, provincial and municipal research and education institutions under its jurisdiction. At the K-12 level, it has 312 institutes and 200,000 students.

The agreement between the three institutions was facilitated by AQG Education Science and Technology Consulting Co., Ltd. Of Guangdong.

 

OC Floral Design students help deck the halls
Okanagan College Media Release

Floral Nov 2018 2Eleven students from Okanagan College’s Floral Design program are adding a dash of holiday cheer to their studies, creating elaborate Christmas floral arrangements for the popular Homes for the Holidays tour.

The Homes for the Holidays event is a self-guided tour of seven private homes in Kelowna decorated for Christmas and featuring artists, tastings and music along the way. Homes are assigned teams – including florists, interior designers and event planners – who work together to style the house in the latest holiday décor trends.

“This is the first time Okanagan College has worked on this tour and so far it has offered invaluable training to students,” explains OC Floral instructor, Kathy Neufeld. “They’ve been required to work in a team with real clients, real deadlines and also real pressure.

“This is a high-profile community event where people go all-out. The exposure has been great for students and is really building their self-esteem.”

The team has been putting its talents to use decorating the historical G.D. Loane House located on Abbott Street. The house was built in the late Art Deco period in 1937 and is known for its innovative Streamline Moderne architecture.

“Each house on the tour works toward a specific holiday design theme set by the interior designer and all of our floral arrangements are based on that theme,” says Neufeld. “Because of the era the Loane House was built in and the architectural style of the house, our team decided to go with the theme of
The Great Gatsby.”

The tour begins tomorrow, Nov. 17, and students have been working towards this day for quite some time.

“The students and I have been working on this event for almost a month now,” explains Neufeld. “We’re preparing a plethora of arrangements including a ton of interior and exterior garlands, potted plants, outdoor planters, chandelier dressings, flowers for all rooms and of course, a Christmas tree.”

The students were joined by two Okanagan College Floral Design alumni who came back to the classroom to help with the arrangements and offer mentorship.

“It’s so humbling to be invited back into the classroom to help with special projects like this one and also to talk with the students,” says Alana Pidwerbeski, a Floral Design graduate (2016) and owner of Wild Ginger Floral Design. “The floral business is changing and growing – especially in this city and all of the Okanagan weddings – and a lot of students are interested in opening their own small business. I enjoy sharing my experiences as a business owner with students and helping them along the way.”

Coincidently, the G.D. Loane House is owned by a former Okanagan College employee, Ron Lutz and his wife, Loy.

“It’s been a wonderful experience working with the College again, especially in such a different way,” says Lutz, who worked as an electrician for the College for more than 25 years. “This is our first time participating in Homes for the Holidays and it’s fitting that the College is making all of the floral arrangements. Our home looks amazing and it was such a pleasure working with the entire décor team.”

The event sold-out quite early and funds raised from the tour goes to support the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

 

Awards a ‘tremendous relief’ for aspiring nurse
Okanagan College Media Release

Jenna Kellerman recently wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and B.C. Premier John Horgan to highlight the challenges for people living in poverty.Jenna Kellerman Nov 2018

Prior to starting upgrading at Okanagan College, Kellerman, a single mother of four boys, would never have dreamed she’d be advocating on issues to government leaders.

“Going back to school has given me the confidence and the voice to speak up,” says Kellerman. “It’s made me think from a different point of view. I’m not scared to speak up anymore, I am maturing as a person and finding my voice.”

Kellerman is currently completing upgrading in order to pursue her dream career as a Licensed Practical Nurse. While in the past, Kellerman wouldn’t describe herself as doing well in school, she’s worked hard to achieve high grades and set an example for her sons.

Her hard work is paying off in more ways than one. Kellerman is being recognized with two awards from the Okanagan College Foundation.

“It’s such an honour to receive these awards and a tremendous relief,” says Kellerman, adding one of the awards brought her to tears when she learned it came from professors at the College.

“These awards will go a long way in helping me pay for my education.”

Kellerman is one of 385 students who will be receiving scholarships and bursaries at three awards receptions hosted by Okanagan College. The first event takes place tonight in Penticton, followed by Vernon Nov. 15 and Kelowna Nov. 22.

The award reception is an opportunity for people in the community who set up scholarships to meet the students and learn first-hand how the financial support is helping them succeed in school.

In total, nearly $500,000 will be awarded to Okanagan College students.

“Community support means a great deal to our students and our institution,” observes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“Awards open doors for students and recognize their hard work and achievements. The support is also a signal of the value our communities place on a skilled workforce and how they are willing to invest in the leaders of tomorrow. We are grateful for the support.”

 

Reconciliation-themed conference coming to Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Past truths are inspiring future approaches to early year education.

Pathway to Truth and Reconciliation is a two-day conference scheduled for Nov. 23 and 24 at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, and is open to anyone who works with children and families in the region and those interested in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

“We want to provide this information for people who are working with children and families in the community, and those who want to know about the land they live and work on. Usually you have to go to Vancouver for these types of conferences, but we are really proud that we have so many local Indigenous leaders to showcase,” explains Leola McMillan, chair of the Early Childhood Educators of B.C. (ECEBC) North Okanagan Branch.

Mollie BonoLocal supporters of early years education and services came up with the idea following a presentation by Okanagan elder Mollie Bono, an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College who was recognized for her long-time efforts to champion education, reconciliation and inclusivity in the region. Bono’s talk stirred a desire to gain more Indigenous knowledge.

“Mollie Bono’s stories were incredible, rich with history and information about the people, the land and traditional ways. That workshop was so inspiring to us that we wanted to share more and learn more,” adds McMillan.

Workshops include topics such as the Kalamalka Indigenous Garden, Okanagan oral history, songs, stick game to Jordan’s Principle, in addition to presentations from elders and scholars working with knowledge keepers and leaders.

Keynote speaker Monique Gray Smith, an award-winning author and leader, will present the “4 Blankets of Resiliency” concept she developed to support wellness of children and families (strong sense of self; family; community; and culture, language and connection to the land) and how these factors might be used to strengthen programming and services.Monique Gray Smith Nov 2018

“Everybody who is involved with the early years in any way understands that we have a responsibility to equip the next generation with the tools they need. The more knowledge we can share and acknowledge the past, we can then move positively towards the future with better outcomes for our children,” McMillan says.

Co-hosted by the ECEBC and Okanagan College, the Pathway to Truth and Reconciliation has taken shape from the contributions of multiple organizations on the planning committee: Children First BC, Success by 6, BC Aboriginal Child Care Society, Okanagan Nation Alliance, First Nations Friendship Centre, United Way North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and NONA Child Development Centre Society.

“The Kalamalka Indigenous Garden is one example of how the Vernon campus of Okanagan College works with the community toward preserving local knowledge and traditional ways. Hosting this conference will support our commitment to working with and learning from the Indigenous community and enhancing ties with our Indigenous partners,” says Jane Lister, Regional Dean North Okanagan.

Registration is open until Nov. 22. Conference participants can register for one or both days, and discounts are available for Okanagan College students and ECEBC members. For information and registration, visit
www.okanagan.bc.ca/pathwayconference. 

 


Trades students put their skills to work building locker rooms for OC Coyotes
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will tip off their sophomore season later this month and they’ll do so with some new amenities thanks to the handiwork of their fellow students.

A class of 13 Grade 10-12 students from School District 23 were the first to contribute to the project, honing their framing and other carpentry skills recently in the space, which is under construction at Kelowna Christian Academy School located on Hollywood Road South.

That class is the first of its kind in the province – an all-female gateway to trades opportunity that is modelled on the Industry Training Authority (ITA) Youth Explore Trades Sampler program for high school students. The 19-week program (a collaboration between the ITA, school district and the college) provides youth an experience in various trades to help students identify their passion before continuing on to an apprenticeship.

Mackenzie Pachal is one of the students working on the project.

“We get to learn a lot about using different tools and about the different trades. It’s much different than school. It’s cool to be working on something that someone else will be appreciating,” she notes.

“This project is a great opportunity for these students to get some hands-on training and apply their skills out in the community,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “I expect they will take a great deal of pride in knowing their efforts are benefiting their fellow students. It’s a real win-win for everybody involved and our students and instructors jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”

“We’re very grateful to the Industry Training Authority and the school district for their support in helping us make this first all-female gateway program a reality – along with Tolko, Home Depot and several others who have provided support and materials. The school district approached us to get the ball rolling in an innovative way to engage an all-female cohort and we’re thrilled we were able to work collaboratively to make it happen.”

“Supporting women in trades is so important in building a sustainable and strong workforce in B.C.” says Shelley Gray, interim CEO, Industry Training Authority. “We’re so proud of the girls of School District 23 for trying their hands at skilled trades and contributing to their community and Okanagan College. Creating safe and welcoming environments for girls and women interested in exploring trades is a great way to get them started.”

Others from the College’s Trades and Apprenticeship department will also play a role in finishing off the project. Electrical, plumbing and carpentry/joinery students and instructors will rotate through in the coming days.

When completed (the College is aiming to have the project wrapped by the end of December) the space will boast locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s teams and a coach’s/meeting room.

The OC Coyotes will play their home openers at Immaculata Regional High School on Nov. 16. The games will mark their first official regular season play as part of the Pacific West (PACWEST) Conference.

“The OC Coyote men’s and women’s basketball programs are built on and dependent on local support and this is no exception with the entire project being constructed by OC Trades students,” explains Dino Gini, President of the Okanagan College Basketball Society.

“Supporting our community is our top priority because the community has supported us since our program’s inception. Working with the College Trades departments and their students is just another example of our program working with our future community leaders. We are looking forward to inviting the community in to join us to officially open the facility to the current and future players and coaches when the time comes.”

 

Penny Lane supports students with investment in child care
Okanagan College Media Release

Penny Lane Nov 2018A Summerland charity’s gift to the new child care centre at Okanagan College is helping give South Okanagan families peace of mind and access to quality child care.
 

The Summerland Charity Shop Society, which formally ran Summerland’s Penny Lane Bargain Outlet stores, announced a $5,000 donation to the new Little Learners Academy at the Penticton campus of the College.

“It’s challenging for parents to find child care,” says Orv Robson, Chairman of the Penny Lane Legacy Fund.

“Little Learners provides a solid start to learning for children and makes it easier for their parents to pursue the next step of their education.”

Putting youth and education is at the forefront of what Penny Lane does. In 2013, with the closing of its retail stores, the board of directors of the Society created the Penny Lane Community Legacy Fund with the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen. The fund invests in the community with a focus on youth projects.

According to Robson, supporting Little Learners fits in with their mandate to make access to education more equitable for youth.

“The Centre will be a benefit for students and families today and for years to come,” adds Robson. “It’s a gem for the Okanagan Valley.”

Penny Lane has a long history of assisting students at Okanagan College and has supported two student bursaries annually since 2011.

“Penny Lane continues to make an incredible impact in the region, and we’re very thankful to be receiving this generous donation,” says Mary Ellen Heidt – Chair for the Child Care Centre campaign.

Little Learners opened in September 2017 and is operated through a partnership between Okanagan College and OneSky Community Resources. Registration is open to College students and employees, as well as families in the South Okanagan.

 

Beyond prohibition: Cannabis, mental health and the public
Okanagan College Media Release

How will the legalization of cannabis affect mental health? What will the implications be for public health generally?

The next installment of Okanagan College’s Signature Speaker Series at the Vernon campus will address recent research on cannabis use and mental health, as well as what legalization will mean for public health.Zach Walsh Nov 2018

Zach Walsh, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan, will review recent research and explore the potential of cannabis to serve as a substitute for other psychoactive substances like alcohol or opioids.
 

“There is so much we don’t know about the use of medicinal plants,” says Walsh. “Refining medicines derived from cannabis and other plants will have a dramatic effect on the health of Canadians and people worldwide. How do we make the best use of these plants and combine them with other therapies to create better outcomes for people who are suffering?”

Walsh runs the Therapeutic, Recreational and Problematic Substance Lab at UBC’s Okanagan campus, which focuses on researching of the association between cannabis use, mental health and addictions. His ongoing research projects include evaluating the efficacy of cannabis for post-traumatic stress, examining the association between psychedelics and violence, and examining cannabis use trajectories among university students.

The presentation will take place in the lecture theatre of Okanagan College’s Vernon campus on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Presented by Okanagan College, the Signature Speaker Series is sponsored by the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre and Basket Case Picnics Catering. Admission is $10. Participants can register in advance online – www.okanagan.bc.ca/SignatureSpeakers – or pay at the door.

 

Federal funding fuels OC research-collaboration in the Shuswap
Okanagan College Media Release

An Okanagan College research initiative involving two different Shuswap area companies is among more than 94 projects nation-wide that are being supported with $45 million from the federal government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

The funding was outlined today at a press conference in Ontario, and work on the research projects in the Shuswap is already underway.

The Shuswap projects are focused on technology in agriculture and improving economic sustainability for existing businesses. $200,000 of federal grant money (over two years) is going to support:

  • research into means to reduce heating costs for greenhouses in cool climates, in order to allow them to operate economically longer or year-round (in partnership with Karen Dow, The Handmade Shop)
  • research into development for year-round greenhouse using low grade geo-thermal temperature control systems, either on grid or off grid (in partnership with Ernest Moniz, HighCroft Farm, Sorrento)
  • developing an automated control system for indoor vertical hydroponic farming (in partnership with Karen Dow, The Handmade Shop)

The funding for the projects flows through the NSERC-administered College and Community Innovation Program.

“On campuses across the country, colleges are building exciting research opportunities and at the same time helping companies enhance their products and processes, bringing promising ideas to the marketplace,” noted federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, as she announced the projects publicly in Saint John. “With research areas ranging from advanced manufacturing to artificial intelligence, the projects being funded today will have real-life benefits for all Canadians.”

Okanagan College personnel involved in the Shuswap research include researcher Dr. Peter Janele and David Williams, who teaches in the Electronic Engineering Technology program.

“Local food security and a minimized carbon footprint is essential to resilient sustainability.” says Ernest Moniz, owner of HighCroft Farm in Sorrento. “Securing federal support and being able to work with an Okanagan College researcher and students to find ways to develop and operate geo-thermal year-round greenhouses is an exciting and valuable step in the right direction. We look forward to being part of creating low cost and small carbon footprint year-round food supplies for local communities in all areas of Canada.”

“Part of the challenge in operating a hydroponic farm is to manage the systems involved in the most efficient manner possible. The project we’re engaging in with Okanagan College researchers and students will help us develop an automated control system that ensures optimal air and water management for an indoor farm that is going to grow tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce commercially. Being able to tap into the College expertise with support through this grant is a real benefit for us.”

“This is research that demonstrates how Okanagan College can bring expertise and knowledge – and federal support – to bear on real world challenges and opportunities that will benefit business and impact the economic health of our region,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “I’m pleased this work is focused in the Shuswap and am looking forward to seeing what the results are. Important to us is the fact there are OC students involved, bolstering their education with research experience.”

The projects are projected to be complete within two years.

 

Small student-designed home boasts big sustainability features
Okanagan College Media Release

Dylan Roche Oct 2018Good things come in small packages — made even better when powered by passive energy.

Dylan Roche and his family are excited to move into their newly built home, designed by Okanagan College students as they completed their Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) diploma.

The Roche family home on Penticton’s Upper Bench might look typical from the outside, but its design is the result of applied learning at its best — students incorporating international best practices in sustainable construction to save energy in the scaled-down house.

The project came about as Roche and his family began to establish roots in Penticton, seeking a more sustainable way of living.

“When we were looking around in the Okanagan, a lot of vineyards seemed to have small amount of land for the vineyard, but large houses. We were looking for the opposite,” explains Roche. “We liked the idea of building something affordable but comfortable, that was easy to heat and live in.”

Roche had a connection with Brian Rippy, a professor in the SCMT department with 15 years of experience in sustainable design and construction management. Rippy provided consultation services while Roche and his family designed their winery building, incorporating LEED principles into the design so that the upstart vintner could optimize operations from the get-go.

“It can take a lot of energy to maintain consistent temperatures in a winery,” Roche explains, adding one facility he worked at in Oliver had utility bills of $3,000 a month. “We got a primer with the winery such that when we started working on the house, we wanted to integrate a lot of those ideas.”

Rippy recommended that the family home become a SCMT Diploma Capstone project for students, who are required to complete a real-world project and demonstrate skills and knowledge they gain in the program. Each team-based project has the potential to contribute to the economic, environmental and social well-being of the community. Students have two terms to deliver: the first to design a project that meets their client’s requirements, with the second term involving construction project management.

For program alumnus Aaron Spohr, the capstone project was daunting.

“My classmates and I realized quite quickly we had actual deadlines and this affected real people. The stakes were a little higher, and it was a real eye opener,” Spohr recalls.

With the Roche project, Spohr and his classmates facilitated design and managed procurement of materials, trades and quotes, as the Roches had their own contractor to build the project.

Applying what they had learned about sustainable construction, the students incorporated many Passive House principles into their work. A building standard certification developed in Germany, Passive House design strives for energy efficient buildings that are comfortable and affordable, using existing sun, internal heat sources and heat recovery ventilation. This can result in energy consumption reductions up to 90 per cent compared to typical building stock.

“We take a building that you would normally have, but wrap it in a sleeping bag so it is super insulated and take additional measures to ensure the building is airtight,” explains Rippy, adding that a high-performance air barrier and thick layer of rigid insulation is continuous around the entire building and two small heat recovery ventilation systems are used to exchange air with minimal energy loss.

Another significant factor in Passive House design is situating the building in the optimum location to take advantage of energy from the sun.

“The site itself was pretty wide open and flat, so from an orientation perspective it was ideal. It allowed us to put a lot of the principles we had learned about into practice,” Spohr says. “We were able to take advantage of the southern orientation to accept solar energy in the winter and reject it in the summer. Our modelling worked.”

The student team working on the Roche project was initially asked to design a tiny house or other movable living structures on the site, given the restrictions around agricultural land. As the design process unfolded, however, the Roche family came back to the students with a twist: their family was growing, expecting another child.

“It was really interesting and cool. It was a real-world application, and gave me and my classmates a taste of what to expect,” Spohr explains. “Building is not an assignment, where you are given the parameters and they never change during the design process. We had a client whose needs were changing. That means some rework has to be done, adjustments had to be made, and you have to deal with it. It was the perfect illustration of what we could expect in industry.”

The home is approximately 800 square feet, with living and kitchen space in the middle taking advantage of natural light from south-facing windows. The interior spaces are open to maximize daylighting and connection to the outdoors. Other features include insulated concrete forms for the foundation, low-emission finishes, high-performance windows, low-flow water fixtures and Energy Star appliances. The building is also considered net-zero ready, in that future additions of solar panels have been planned, which would make the building reach net zero energy.

Spohr had the opportunity to walk through and admire the house during the final stage of construction.

“It looks great. It looks exactly as we had designed it. A lot of the things we had hoped would make it in are here,” he says. “It’s a small space but it feels like it is big and efficient.”

Information about the SCMT program is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/scmt. 

 

Cannabis industry expert to present at College’s Career Fair
Okanagan College Media Release

Those attending Okanagan College’s Career Fair on Nov. 4 will get more than future career or educational insights, they’ll leave with knowledge about the budding local cannabis industry.Flowr cultivation room Nov 2018

Cannabis is now legal in Canada and the new legislation has brought new questions, that will be addressed in a session at OC’s Career Fair by industry expert Lyle Oberg, the Corporate Project Management Officer of Flowr, a local cannabis cultivator company located in Lake Country.

“We’re passionate about getting involved with Okanagan College because it helps bring our communities together and build for the future,” says Oberg. “Flowr is not going anywhere. We’re staying in the region, we’re looking for local employees and we’re only getting bigger.”

Oberg will give an hour-long presentation to current and prospective College students about cannabis career opportunities in the Okanagan at noon during the College’s Career Fair in Rm. E202 in the Centre for Learning (E) building.

“Ninety-five per cent of our employees are local and we have a substantial need for even more employees in a wide variety of positions,” explains Oberg. “That’s one of the interesting parts of this industry, we need office administrators, business people, cultivators, managers, trimmers, marketers, and more, all the way up to PhD researchers – this industry is really limitless.”

Flowr has been in operation for almost a year and within that time has already hired 120 full- and part-time employees and is preparing to double that number within the next six to eight months.

Attendees are encouraged to bring questions to the presentation.

“The Okanagan has been an epicentre of cannabis for years and I’m hoping to shed some light on the exciting careers you can have in this industry,” notes Oberg. “I imagine there are a lot of people out there with questions and I’m happy to take the time and really get to the bottom of things with them.”

Okanagan College made headlines last fall when it became one of the first in the sector nationally to implement a Cannabis course – The Emerging Marijuana Industry – through its School of Business. It now offers several courses through the Continuing Studies department including Growing your Own Cannabis, Pest Management, Cannabis Legislation, Business Fundamentals and more. An upcoming course on Cannabis Retail Sales is also being developed.

“This is a dynamic industry and the courses we have developed bring a unique hands-on educational experience for students – not just theory,” says Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College. “Our goal is to provide education that is ahead of the curve and provides insight into this unfolding market.”

The College’s 37
th annual Career Fair on Nov. 4 offers high school and post-secondary students the opportunity to explore potential career paths and connect with more than 50 employers across a range of industries. It is the Interior’s longest-running career expo that attracts hundreds of prospective students every year.

Attendees are also treated to post-secondary preparatory seminars, tours, activities, program information and draw prizes. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd.

Admission and parking are free for Career Fair.

 

Renowned wine blogger launches SOMM3 film in Kelowna
Okanagan College Media Release

Madeline Puckette Oct 2018One of the top social media influencers in North America’s wine industry will be at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on November 12, 2018 to launch
SOMM3, the latest edition of the cult wine film series.

Madeline Puckette, author and illustrator of Wine Folly’s blog and books, was recently ranked just behind Decanter magazine by Social Vignerons (an online hub for wine industry news) for her influence on social media. With her popular illustrations and distilled wine information, Puckette’s graphical educational tools make it easy for anyone to learn about wine.

Puckette narrated
SOMM3, a provocative wine film featuring Decanter editor Steven Spurrier, renowned master sommelier Fred Dame, and wine critic Jancis Robinson.

The original
SOMM is the most viewed wine film on Netflix to date. Okanagan wine lovers will be able to catch a sneak peak of SOMM3 in the OC Kelowna campus lecture theatre on November 12. Guests can enjoy wine tastings starting at 6 p.m.; the film screening will commence at 7 p.m. The film isn’t yet available online.

Local social enterprise Start Fresh Kitchen is hosting the
SOMM3 film release party, which will include a book signing with Puckette, garagiste wine tasting and local small bites direct from the Start Fresh Farm.  

“The film release is a great opportunity for our culinary and wine community to come together and geek out about wine,” states chef Micheal Buffet, owner of Start Fresh Kitchen.

“Okanagan College is proud to sponsor this event and bring
SOMM3 to the Okanagan, because the wine industry is of critical importance to the communities we serve,” states Jonathan Rouse, Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at Okanagan College. “It’s important to reflect on our industry’s history to shape the future of wine.”

Tickets are available online at StartFreshKitchen.ca
 (head to the Calendar to find the event). Tickets are $38 each and include film admission, wine tastings and small bites. Learn more on the Facebook event page.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit Start Fresh’s culinary and farming employment projects.

 

College helping job seekers get social media savvy at Career Fair
Okanagan College Media Release

Education? Check. Practical experience? Check. LinkedIn profile?

Okanagan College Co-op Employment Co-ordinator Tanya Tarlit is encouraging students and job seekers to set the right tone with their online presence, as employers shift from reviewing just resumes to combing the internet for candidate information.

“LinkedIn is an easy way for employers to take a quick snapshot of you,” Tarlit explains. “Once they have your resume, they will search for you on LinkedIn to see if you have additional experience or, even better, recommendations on your page endorsing you for specific skills.”

Tarlit is one of several job-search experts scheduled to present on Nov. 4 during the 37th annual Career Fair, the yearly open house for current Okanagan College students to meet employers and gain important skills to make informed decisions about the future.

Her presentation will offer tips and tricks for creating an all-star LinkedIn profile, including pitfalls to avoid. “Make sure your profile is filled out, that you have done all the areas that need to be completed. If someone has a sparse profile, it can lead to questions about whether you have the experience listed on your resume,” she says.

“You need to make sure your picture is professional, and it is just you in the photo. Employers can’t tell you from a group of people.”

As a bonus, students who attend the workshops can have professional headshots taken before or after the presentation for free to add extra polish to your new LinkedIn profile. Photos will be first-come, first-served between 12-1 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. in the E Building 2nd floor lobby (outside E202).

According to B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook, the Thompson-Okanagan region will need 91,190 workers for new and replacement positions in the next 10 years, with over 16,000 required for the health-care sector between hospitals, nursing, residential care facilities and ambulatory health-care services. The Okanagan occupations with the largest number of job openings will be nurse assistants (2,800) and registered nurses/psychiatric nurses (2,320).

Those considering careers in health care would do well to start building online profiles. “LinkedIn is used in certain disciplines more than others. When I attend the Interior Health Authority’s information sessions, LinkedIn is one of the go-to’s that recruiters use when considering applicants,” she adds.

Career Fair gives students a chance to connect with employers and get an inkling about their direction, plus get set up for success with a series of valuable job-search workshops:

  • Resume and Interview Keys to Success: Amy Rauscher from Vantage Living Inc. will give an overview of simple things students can do to stand out and secure the job of their dreams. Session runs at 11 a.m. in Room E202.
  • Careers in Cannabis: Dr. Lyle Oberg from The Flowr Corporation will discuss careers and opportunities in cannabis. Session starts at noon in Room E202.
  • How to Create an All-Star LinkedIn Profile: Tanya Tarlit from Okanagan College will cover how a LinkedIn profile is an essential part of a student’s personal brand – especially for someone considering doing any LinkedIn networking. Session starts at 1 p.m. in Room E202.
  • Health Care Assistant Roles at Interior Health: Kailee Thorne will talk about what Interior Health positions involve at hospitals, residential care, home support and community care. This high-demand occupation offers a variety of opportunities throughout the region. Session starts at 2 p.m. in Room E202.

Admission and parking are free. The fair and sessions will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Centre for Learning (E Building) at the Kelowna campus, 1000 KLO Rd.

For details, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/careerfair.

 

Okanagan College’s technology programs awarded new national accreditation
Okanagan College Media Release

Four engineering technology programs at Okanagan College have earned a new national accreditation designed to help create streamlined pathways toward professional certification for graduates.TAC Oct 2018

Richard Stamper, Executive Director of Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC), visited the Kelowna campus recently to present certificates recognizing national program accreditation for the College’s Civil Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology and Water Engineering Technology programs.

Each of the program audits revealed highly engaged faculty committed to student success. Employers and alumni who were interviewed acknowledged that all programs deliver broad curricula which provides graduates with employment opportunities in various sectors of their respective industries. Audit teams noted that Okanagan College graduates enter the workplace with strong technical, problem solving and time management skills and a solid awareness of health and healthy practices.

“TAC congratulates Okanagan College on its exemplary leadership with four programs accredited,” remarked Richard Stamper, TAC Executive Director. “This significant achievement demonstrates the college’s commitment to its students, faculty, industry and government and signifies that the program aligns with the current standards of the profession.”

In addition, accreditation provides a streamlined pathway towards professional certification as an Applied Science Technologist (A.Sc.T), through the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC).

“This new national accreditation re-affirms for our students that the knowledge and skills they’re acquiring at the College meet the highest standards and are valued by employers,” says Yvonne Moritz, Okanagan College’s Dean of Science, Technology and Health. “And the expedited path to becoming a certified technician or technologist through ASTTBC ensures our students will continue to step into their industries quickly – and well prepared – after graduation.”

 

OC and UBC Okanagan working together to build a greener future
Okanagan College Media Release

From sharing new ideas in smart energy use to envisioning what the buildings of tomorrow will look like, a new partnership by Okanagan College and the University of British Columbia Okanagan’s School of Engineering is laying the foundation for a greener future.

Green Building LOC 1 Oct 2018Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College and Dr. Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus, met at the College’s Penticton campus today to sign a letter of cooperation outlining how the institutions will work together – and with industry, government and community members – to spark new research and create new hands-on practical training opportunities for students.

The letter of cooperation in green construction research and training outlines a number of ways in which the institutions aim to collaborate, from developing shared capstone projects for students to establishing a speaker series in green construction and smart energy use.

“We are at a critical turning point in the future of the planet,” says Buszard. “Green construction research that begins here in the Okanagan will generate new techniques, technologies, and materials that could have national or global impact. Through this new collaboration, UBC researchers, working side-by-side with faculty and students from the College, will develop solutions that help bridge the gap from where we are today to the greener future we seek for tomorrow.”

“In strengthening our partnership in this way, we’re seeking to enrich and diversify the educational experiences for students, drawing from the considerable knowledge and expertise the College and the University bring to the table,” explains Hamilton.
Green Building LOC 2 Oct 2018
“This enhanced cooperation is going to help us continue to educate the skilled workers who will raise the bar, invent new and better ways of doing things and continue to build our communities more sustainably.”

At the College, the collaboration will see students and faculty from a variety of technology programs engaged, while also developing the connections between technologies and trades, as the College continues to educate those who design and construct the buildings of the future.

Another goal will be to build on the work both institutions have done to establish the region as a hub for innovation in advancing sustainable construction. Both institutions have several examples of work done to create greener learning and working environments on their campuses and have worked with various groups of students to support and develop green initiatives.

The letter of cooperation outlines a joint commitment to explore the creation of a Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) in the Okanagan. Such a centre would see researchers working to create innovative, low-cost, and reliable construction and retrofitting solutions to achieve healthy, resilient, and environmentally sustainable infrastructure.

 

New award honours Okanagan columnist
Okanagan College Media Release

Thomson Marketing Award Oct 2018A new annual award for top marketing students at Okanagan College is honouring a well-known Okanagan businessman and columnist.

John Thomson was the former Marketing Manager at B.C. Tree Fruits. When he retired in the early 90s Kelowna was in the midst of an economic slump. Still passionate about business and an enthusiastic community promotor, Thomson went on to form the Kelowna Executive Roundtable, a group of local business leaders that meet monthly to discuss topics relevant to the Central Okanagan community. 

Thomson also began writing the Thomson Report, a column about business in the Okanagan. 
As a journalist, Thomson was a frequent contributor to Okanagan Life and also served as a columnist and then an editor of Okanagan Business. In 1999, for his contributions to community, Thomson was awarded an honorary doctorate from Okanagan University College.

When Thomson passed in 2015, members of the Executive Roundtable wanted to find a way to recognize his impact on their group and the community at large. Along with his wife Dolores, they set up a legacy that will introduce new students to Thomson’s work for years to come.

“John was a big fan of the college,” says Don Turri, a partner at Crowe MacKay and a member of the Executive Roundtable. “We decided the most appropriate thing was to have a scholarship in his name.”

The John Thomson Memorial – Kelowna Executive Roundtable Scholarship in Marketing is an annual $2,500 award for a top marketing student enroled in the Bachelor of Business Administration program. The award winner is chosen for having the highest marks in three second- or third-year marketing courses.

“John was a force of nature in the business, media and marketing community in the Okanagan. His columns, his roundtable, his efforts at connecting people and business really spoke to the love he had for the region and for business making a difference in people’s lives,” says Dr. Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean of the Okanagan School of Business at Okanagan College.

“This award in John’s name will hopefully inspire the recipient this year and in years to come to help carry on the commitment to marketing and community that we know was at the core of John’s bigger-than-life persona.”

Andrew Nash is the first winner of the award, and describes himself as the one sitting in the front row of class, asking lots of questions and staying late to study.

“What I love about marketing is the opportunity to be creative,” says Nash. “From developing advertising slogans, or products that are going to reach customers, it’s very interesting to me. The more I can put my own touch on things is awesome.”

Over the summer, Nash ran his own division of Student Works Painting in Salmon Arm, which employed eight student painters.

Nash is also following in Thomson’s footsteps by serving as the Executive Director with the College’s Okanagan Business Students Association, which organizes networking events and activities for students.

“Having the extra income from this award will save me from having a part time job and will help fund tuition and living in Kelowna,” says Nash.

“By not working, I can focus on volunteering, getting experience and giving back to students.”

 

Education hits the right note for Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Professional figure skater Nina Greschner arrived at Okanagan College last fall and traded in her skates for headphones and a mixing board as she stepped into a new career and launched a cutting-edge business focused on helping other athletes achieve their best.Nina Greschner Oct 2108

Greschner has been immersed in the figure skating world for more than 30 years. She got her start at age four and was competitive for many years until she transformed her skills into a long-time career travelling abroad with Disney On Ice. After completing more than a decade with Disney, Greschner moved to coaching.

“One of the coach’s responsibilities is the music, which sets the tone for the performance,” explains Greschner. “Finding the right piece of music is no easy feat and I thought to myself, ‘why not create my own?’”

Armed with an original business idea in mind to produce custom music for athletes’ performances, Greschner enrolled in the College’s Audio Engineering and Music Production (AEMP) certificate course to get the necessary training to make her business idea happen.

“I envisioned a niche business helping coaches and choreographers eliminate the problem solving of music and focus their attention on the creation of the performance,” explains Greschner. “I knew I needed a better technical understanding of music editing and how to achieve the perfect tone and energy.”

Greschner experienced first-hand the benefits of small class sizes as she not only worked through the program with her instructors, they even took time to help her flush out her business, Composed Music Services, which she successfully launched in her hometown of Revelstoke this fall.

“One of the really unique things about the AEMP certificate was the wide array of students, each who had something different they wanted to do with their education,” she explained. “You’ve got this one educational program that is appealing to DJs, musicians, stage production workers and business owners – it was really neat to hear everyone’s plans.”

The AEMP program offers students hands-on education and prepares them for a rewarding career in the Music Production industry.

“This program gives students the unique experience of industry opportunities, hands-on training and a network of alumni who love what they do,” says Corey Bell, who has been the lead instructor of the program at Okanagan College since 2012. “It is focused on a learner-centered approach and I work with each student to help them identify and meet their goals within the training.”

The next intake of the AEMP certificate program begins Jan. 7 and those interested can attend an information session coming up at the Kelowna campus on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Room A138. Attendees will have a chance to check out equipment, software and other demos and talk with instructors, students and graduates of the program. To find out more information, visit okanagan.bc.ca/aemp or call 250-862-5480.

 

Tolko chips in for Vernon youth
Okanagan College Media Release

Tolko Oct 2018Sixteen year old Vernon Secondary School student Nemo Des Mazes says she prefers working with her hands and building things rather than sitting in a classroom.

When the chance came to take part in the Youth Trades Explorer Sampler at Okanagan College, she eagerly signed up. The program gives high school students an opportunity to discover the trades as a career with hands-on technical training in six fields including plumbing, carpentry and electrical.

The innovative program, a partnership between School District 22 and the College, is not only attracting students, it’s also garnered the interest and support of a local employer.

Tolko Industries has donated $11,000 plus in-kind support toward the training at Okanagan College.

“We are passionate about youth and this fits with our long-term strategy to build our workforce and our communities,” says Tanya Wick, Tolko’s Vice President, People and Services.

“This program is helping young people gain the skills and experience that can help set them up for success.”

While this year’s student cohort is only in their second week of trades training, they’ve already progressed from building a deck chair to picnic tables. The lumber for their projects was also donated from Tolko’s Armstrong mill.

“It’s always very meaningful for us at the College to see an employer in the region invest in the training of our students,” says Teresa Kisilevich, Okanagan College’s Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

“Students see that local businesses want them to succeed.”

Both School District 22 and Okanagan College are interested in elevating trades training as a career choice for students earlier on in their education.

The program can be a game changer for students who aren’t always successful in academics by empowering them to dive and explore a variety of trades at a full-time level for 10 weeks, according to Joe Rogers, Superintendent of Schools at School District 22.

“This gives kids an opportunity to go towards their passion. If you put a kid where they are happy they will do good work,” says Rogers.

“It’s also a win-win for our community as there is a shortage of trades workers.”

Patrick Kenny, who is participating in the current program says he’s always known that he’s wanted to get into the trades.

“I am really liking the program, and the College is welcoming,” he says.

In addition to lumber, Tolko is exploring how else it can support the Youth Trades Sampler program, including having the students take a tour of their Armstrong mill.

The students are working in Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Centre, which opened in August. The $6.2-million, 1,250 square-metre (13,450 square-foot) facility can accommodate approximately 150 students per year and features a dedicated welding shop and multi-use spaces in which the College can deliver training in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing and pipefitting, along with specialized training like the Youth Trades Sampler.

 

OC natural gas reduction has a long history
Okanagan College Media Release

 

With the pressure on FortisBC natural gas customers to reduce consumption because of the pipeline explosion in Prince George this week, Okanagan College energy managers are inspired to continue to explore new ways to reduce reliance on the energy source.

Fortis has not reached out to the College to ask it to reduce consumption and that comes as little surprise.

“We use very little gas at this time of year,” explains Rob St. Onge, Okanagan College’s energy manager. “The reason for that is because of the energy reduction and conservation initiatives we have taken over the past years. We’d still counsel our staff and students to think about how they might be able to reduce their gas consumption in light of the circumstances in Prince George.”

St. Onge, and Peter Csandl, manager of plant services and operations, point to recent construction projects as part of the reason. “Many of our buildings use no gas or very little gas due to recent energy upgrades or alternative forms of heat,” explains St. Onge. “All of our boilers on all campuses have been upgraded to high efficiency condensing boilers which use much less gas. Interestingly, Fortis rebates helped fund these projects.”

“Our newer buildings also use exhaust air heat recovery which dramatically reduces heating requirements,” says Csandl. “That’s in place in the Centre of Excellence in Penticton, the Centre for Learning and the Trades Complex in Kelowna, and the Child Care Centre in Penticton.”

A significant portion of the College’s largest campus – Kelowna – relies on an innovative heat-recovery system (drawing from the nearby City of Kelowna waste water treatment plant) for heat – that doesn’t require natural gas for much of the year.

“Over the past many years, our goal has been to reduce our carbon footprint, and we’ve certainly done that,” says St. Onge. He points to data that shows while the College’s physical footprint has grown 38.8 per cent since 2008, the overall natural gas consumption has decreased 32.2 per cent. On a per square metre basis, that means consumption of natural gas has dropped by more than half – 51.7 per cent – in a decade. (Electrical consumption, incidentally, dropped by 19 per cent per square metre in the same time period.)

“We are focused on conservation and energy savings as part of our commitment to sustainability,” explains Csandl, “And we will continue to look at ways that we can do that and incorporate the greenest possible building and renovation techniques to help move us toward a carbon-zero environment.”

 


College hosts health care training for in-demand profession in Oliver
Okanagan College Media Release

It is not quite a house call, but Oliver residents will find health care training is being offered very close to home.

A special intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled to be held in February that will give students in the South Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.

“The South Okanagan is desperate for health care assistants. That need exists across the province, but there is a significant demand within health-care facilities and homes in this part of the region,” says Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College.

The College received $89,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Oliver, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Osoyoos, Okanagan Falls and Keremeos.

According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.

“Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Kraft. "Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care."

An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Southern Okanagan Secondary School, 6140 Gala St. in Oliver. The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment. 

Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-492-4305, ext. 3203 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.

 

College’s 3-Hour Short Story Contest returns
Okanagan College Media Release

“Please, sir, I want some more…time” may be the refrain heard from Grade 11, 12 and OC students across the valley at the upcoming 9th Annual 3-Hour Short Story Contest at Okanagan College.Hannah Stanley Oct 2018

Aspiring authors looking for a challenge will need to make careful use of the 180 minutes they’ll be given to craft a compelling original short story at the contest, which is held on Oct. 13 from 1 – 4 p.m. at each of the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.

The clock won’t be the only obstacle during the competition. Students will also be required to work a mystery phrase into their story, revealed at the start of the contest. Participants in previous years had to incorporate phrases such as “frozen fish sticks,” “downy mustache,” “soggy bread” and “under the weather” into their story.

“The clock forces writers to not second guess themselves and trust their instincts while writing. Quite often they’ll produce a surprising result that undoubtedly helps to advance their artistic development and style,” says Dr. Sean Johnston, contest organizer and an English Professor at the College. “The pressure is liberating and I think that is why we see budding authors of all ages and levels enter the contest.”

Writers will be competing for funds they can apply toward tuition. A judging panel made up of members of the College’s English department will review stories and select four winners, one from each region. Each winner will receive a $250 tuition credit and an overall grand prize winner will take home an additional $500 tuition credit and have their story published in a limited fine-press edition by the Kalamalka Press – the College’s printing press located at the Vernon campus.

7,200 seconds and 919 words was all it took for last year’s winner, Hannah Stanley, to take home the top prize of $750 for her original story “The Best Years of Our Lives.”

“I woke up in the morning feeling very uninspired and I went into the contest without any prior story ideas or anything worked out in my head in advance,” says Stanley, a recent OC Associate of Arts graduate. “It wasn’t until the clock started and I heard the mystery phrase that I found inspiration and knew what I was going to write about.”

The contest is free to enter and registration is open until midnight on Friday, Oct. 12. For more details, contest rules and to register, please visit Okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting.