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Records 1 to 4 of 14
Venture Okanagan 2016

$5,000 prize and connections are the promise of Venture Okanagan

Entrepreneurs are already honing their presentation skills as preparations continue for the 10th edition of Venture Okanagan, Western Canada’s largest student-run pitch session for entrepreneurs.

The event will be held in Kelowna at Okanagan College’s campus on February 18.

Twice annually, Venture Okanagan brings five local entrepreneurs together to compete for the attention of local investors. It’s a rewarding experience for participants and for observers.

And it’s a chance for students from Okanagan College’s School of Business to put their education and skills to work in helping develop local businesses. A group of student volunteers, who are part of Enactus Okanagan College, are the driving force behind Venture Okanagan, led this year by Lauren McKay.

GreenStep Solutions Inc., a local consulting firm focused on environmental sustainability, was the fortunate winner in Spring 2014’s Venture Okanagan event. “The Venture Okanagan process gives invaluable feedback and experience to start-ups,” says Angela Nagy, the CEO of GreenStep. “Participating in the pitching forum adds credibility and exposure that continues to pay off in the long term.” To date, her firm has worked with more than 1,200 businesses and organizations in several sectors, including private, public, non-profit and academic institutions.

There’s also the lure of a $5,000 prize for the event’s winner, provided by the title sponsor, Grant Thornton LLP. “The Okanagan is home to an amazing number of innovative entrepreneurs and businesses, and Venture Okanagan helps connect them with the capital, resources and relationships they need to grow and succeed,” explains Kevin Santos, Partner with Grant Thornton’s Kelowna office. “We are encouraged by the entrepreneurial spirit here, and are excited to be part of the upcoming Investor Forum.”

Beyond the prize and the chance to promote business ideas to local investors, Venture Okanagan is also a premium networking event. Tickets for the event are $40.88 and are available at Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and presentations start at 6 p.m.

Early registration open for the Okanagan College Half Marathon
Okanagan College Media Release

It’s time to hit the ground running and Okanagan runners can get a head start on the race: early-bird registration for the 2016 Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race is now open.Christy Lovig Jan2016

This is the 14
th year for the race, which will be held on Sunday, April 3 in Kelowna. The not-for-profit event raises scholarship funds that support Okanagan College students who are involved in recreation and athletics.

Last year, Kelowna’s Christy Lovig joined more than 400 running enthusiasts on the course that boasts unparalleled lake views to take the women’s 10 K title with a time of 36:48.

“I’ve run the College’s half marathon and 10 K numerous times, and I always look forward to the fast course throughout our beautiful city,” said Lovig. “It’s a pleasure to run in a well-organized event that is backed by such enthusiastic organizers, volunteers, supporters and participants.”

With start and finish lines at the Okanagan College Kelowna campus, the 21.1 km half marathon course runs along the scenic City Park and up to Knox Mountain before looping back towards Gyro Beach. The relay race allows up to five runners to share the same distance in 4 km segments, while the 10 K has runners turn around in City Park.

“We are doing a few things differently this year and I think our runners are going to be really happy with the improvements,” said Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “The course will remain the same but we’re enhancing some of our services for runners, most notably the food. We hear every year that we have the best post-race snacks and we’re going to provide an even better selection of food this year.”

The race will offer cash prizes to the winners of the half marathon event. Prizes for the top relay and 10 km finishers will also be handed out.

Each year, more than 60 volunteers from the community make the event possible and a great success. Non-runners who wish to be involved in the race can contribute their time as race volunteers or course marshals. No experience is necessary.

“We have volunteers of all ages who join us on race day,” said Ulmer. “From young families, local sports team members, and retired runners, everyone always has a great time at cheering our participants on along the course.”

To register, for more details about the course, and entry fee deadlines, visit

Those interested in volunteering can contact Michelle Lowry at 250-762-5445 ext. 4649 or at

Race quick facts:
  • Start time: 8 a.m. (10 K) and 8:15 a.m. (half marathon and relay)
  • Early Bird fees, until Feb. 14: $35 (10 K) and $50 (half marathon)
  • Relay team fees: $125 (until March 30)
  • Follow the Facebook page for updates, training tips and photos

Job-seekers to meet employers at College’s annual Business Expo & Employment Fair
Okanagan College Media Release

David Knapp Jan 2016Looking for work? Graduating students, alumni and community members can meet with the companies who are hiring at the ninth annual Business Expo & Employment Fair at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

More than 60 businesses will be present, looking to meet top candidates from across the Valley, representing a range of sectors including banking, business solutions, engineering technologies, IT, trades and even the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard.

“It’s about connecting those looking for work, with those who do the hiring directly for these enterprises,” said organizer and Okanagan College School of Business Program and Event Coordinator Jamie Morrow. “Having a chance to get beyond being just a name on a resume and present yourself to human resources managers can bring you one step closer to having a job and launching a career.”

One company in attendance will be CIBC, which has hosted a booth at the fair since it first launched in 2008. David Knapp, who is the Business Development Manager at CIBC for the B.C. and Northern Territories region and also an Okanagan College alumnus, says the appeal is in attracting candidates who are job-ready.

“Our experience is that Okanagan College graduates have the education, skills and professionalism that are the right match for our bank,” said Knapp. “The employment fair gives applicants and employers a chance to meet for a few minutes and from there we can add candidates to our prospect list for ongoing job opportunities.”

Knapp’s advice to those attending the fair is to come interview-ready: bring your resume, dress for the part, and have your “elevator pitch” in mind. He also mentions to not overlook transferable skills such as how a part-time job in a restaurant while attending college can be aligned with customer service, time management, and basic accounting skills.

“Job seekers need to maximize the short time by being as clear as possible about why our bank is a good fit for their goals, but it’s also important to explain why they are good fit for us,” explained Knapp. “Show us what you can bring to the company. We are looking to find great employees.”

In addition to CIBC, exhibitors will include Accelerate Okanagan, BC Tree Fruits, Capri Insurance, City of Kelowna, Kal Tire, Mission Hill Family Estate/CedarCreek Estate Winery, Sentes Automotive Group, Valley First Credit Union, and Westbank First Nation, to name a few. Certain employers also book additional rooms to conduct more in-depth interviews on the spot for applicants who meet the job criteria.

“It can be a quick process. The value is in making those connections and facilitating first impressions,” comments Morrow.

The public is invited to attend the Business Expo & Employment Fair at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, which will be held in the atrium of the Centre for Learning building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Okanagan College School of Business and the Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre sponsor the event.

For more information, go online: and click on business community for a full list of participating employers.
BCIS students place in top 25 per cent globally 
at 24-hour competition

Blog post:

IEEE StudentsResults are in from the fall’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Xtreme Programming world-wide competition; one of Okanagan College’s first-year Bachelor of Computer Information Systems teams made-up of Rob Bro, Martin Wallace, and Kevin Hall placed in the top 25 teams across Canada, and top 500 world-wide out of 2,000 global teams (and more than 6,400 students). This was the first year the College entered.  

Four three-member OC teams (12 students) participated in the consecutive 24-hour competition that saw student teams solve 29 unique problems using different algorithms and then translate those algorithms into a computer language. Their solutions were tested for accuracy, speed and correctness. The students stayed at the Kelowna campus for the round-the-clock event, working hard to solve these problems. It was the first time any of them competed in a programming competition, and Computer Information Systems Department Chair Dr. Youry Khmelevsky and Professor Kenneth Chidlow coached them.

“I don’t think any of us knew what to anticipate,” said Bro. “Some of the questions were super simple, however there were questions that were solvable but required you to solve them in a particular way to pass the time constrains. It was quite the challenge but lots of fun.”
The students have now formed an IEEE student branch at Okanagan College and will be looking forward to many more activities through 2016 including the Global Game Jam on Jan. 29. For more information, visit the website

College program enables a one-year flight path to top-demand career

Shael Riendeau, AMESBoeing predicts a global industry demand for 609,000 aircraft maintenance technicians over the next 20 years, making it the most in-demand occupation in the aviation industry.

Locally the demand is echoed at KF Aerospace, Kelowna’s largest privately owned employer. In the last four years, the company that boasts over 500 employees in Kelowna has hired 29 of Okanagan College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Structures (AME-S) graduates (including the entire 2014 class), representing more than a quarter of their AME-S technicians labour force.

Those looking to have their career take flight within a year can still apply for the Feb. 1, 2016 intake of the AME-S certificate program at the College. Students are taught everything they need to become structures technicians that work on the skin and frame of an aircraft.

“Knowing I could finish classes and there was a high probability of a job right away was reassuring, and validated my choice in taking this program,” said 32-year-old Shael Riendeau who completed the College’s AME-S certificate program in December and started work immediately at KF Aerospace. “It’s not just a job, it’s a career, and in less than one year I was able to apply, take the program, graduate, and get hired.”

A career in the aircraft industry may have been written in the stars for Riendeau; his grandfather was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force for 25 years. As such he was always exposed to planes when growing up, and found them fascinating.

While being an AME is a craftsman job, many are drawn to the industry for its cleanliness, job security, and work-life balance. In class students learn aircraft design, construction, installations, repairs and work with composite materials. The curriculum is up to date with high tech modern equipment and follows strict Transport Canada guidelines.

Partnering with industry to connect grads with employers is a pillar of Okanagan College’s success. Uniquely, the AME-S program is taught at the Kelowna airport sharing hangar space with KF Aerospace.

“It’s a real dialogue between the College, KF Aerospace and other industry stakeholders to ensure our students are exposed to the latest technologies, regulations, and standards,” said Dale Martell, Okanagan College AME program chair.

For Riendeau this translated to an education that was hands-on and prepared him for a job. “There’s a lot of shop time and you practice all your hand-skills such as riveting, drilling, and accuracy continuously.”

He adds that going on tours of KF Aerospace throughout the year was a great way to develop a solid idea of what the job would entail upon graduation and to build a rapport with those whom he now calls colleagues.

“They’d take us on tours when they had an interesting project in the hangar,” explained Riendeau. “I remember once they were adding a cargo door to the body of an airplane that previously didn’t have one, that was really cool. Being able to ask questions and integrate this learning into my education was definitely an asset.”

“By sharing our facility with the College, we see the students, who are potential hires, evolve to develop the precision skills needed to be job-ready in helping make planes safe to fly,” said Grant Stevens, Director of Human Resources at KF Aerospace. “As a nice synergy, by the time we are ready to interview them they too have a foundation in who we are as a company, what we do, and what we look for.

“At KF Aerospace we hire for the long-term, and while we hire from all over Canada, hiring locally ensures that these individual are here for the long haul, as they have established roots in the region.”  

Over 70 per cent of the College’s AME-S graduates are hired locally in the aircraft and helicopter industry, while others go on to work provincially, nationally or globally in this exciting industry that includes the armed forces, search and rescue and airline companies.   

For more information about the AME-S program starting Feb. 1 and to apply visit:

Boyd donation helps College make an impact in promoting automotive careers
Okanagan College Media Release

Methal Abougoush Jan 2016As a potential skills shortage looms that could affect the automotive sector in the Okanagan within the next five years, a local autobody shop owner is helping Okanagan College rev up excitement for careers in collision repair.

Boyd Autobody and Glass recently presented the College with a unique demonstration piece – a mobile collision repair demonstration vehicle which can be transported to local high schools. Boyd’s Owner Methal Abougoush, who volunteers his time as an industry advisor for the College’s Collision Repair programs, has been touring the vehicle around Kelowna and sharing tips of the trade with students.

“If we don’t continue to promote and drive young people into careers in the trades we simply won’t have the skilled workers our industry needs,” says Abougoush. “Our company is very supportive of the training offered by the College. It is so beneficial to the Okanagan to have this training available locally.”

In addition to the demonstration unit valued at over $15,000, Boyd Autobody and Glass has also donated to support much needed locker space in the new trades building under construction at the Kelowna campus.

Collision Repair facilities at the College are currently receiving upgrades as part of the $33-million 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion that will wrap up this spring with the opening of the new Trades Training Complex.

“It’s an exciting time for Collision Repair and for all our programs,” says Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “The donations of equipment, tools, and support for the new trades facilities and for our students are helping us continue to enhance our programs. We’re very grateful to all the donors who have stepped forward to support the project.”

Would-be students interested in starting training in Collision Repair at Okanagan College in 2016 should take note: an essay competition is running until the end of January. Entrance bursaries valued at up to $5,000 each will be awarded to 10 students who demonstrate financial need and who are able to enrol in eligible trades programs this year. More information is available at

“One of the messages I always share with students and parents is that there is so much mobility in the trades,”
explains Abougoush. “You can start your career as a technician and end up as a business owner. I only see the demand for this skill continuing to grow.”

The efforts of students are also helping to raise money and awareness for the program. Vehicles donated to the Collision Repair Department are repaired and auctioned off by the Okanagan College Foundation.

Proceeds go back into the program to purchase parts, equipment, and vehicles for the students to work on. In November, a 2010 Toyota Matrix with rear collision damage was repaired and auctioned off for $6,800 to benefit students. 

Unique food, wine tourism training to grow youth employment opportunities in Osoyoos and area
Okanagan College Media Release

Destination Osoyoos and Okanagan College are partnering to deliver Passport to Employment – an innovative program that aims to grow the food, wine and tourism industry by providing free, hands-on training to high school students in Osoyoos and Oliver.

“We recognized that if we could offer a hands-on training program to our local youth, we would all win,” says Brianne Hearle, Director of Marketing with Destination Osoyoos. “Our youth would be retained in our community, they would become gainfully employed during and after school years, and our hospitality sector businesses would have a better selection of certified, employment-ready workers resulting in a more stable human resource situation.”

Destination Osoyoos chose to partner with Okanagan College because as Gail Scott, Managing Director for Destination Osoyoos, says “the College had the expertise and knowledge to put the program together. This pilot has truly been a collaboration of talent, expertise and passion; and, it is being carefully followed by other organizations and communities in B.C. as a possible best practice for implementation.”

Passport to Employment is unique because the curriculum contains hands-on training and certification options in areas that the wine, food and tourism industry have long recognized are skill gaps. Topics include essential employment skills, professionalism in the workplace, as well as front desk, housekeeping and cashier training. Students will also earn valuable industry recognized certificates, including FoodSafe, WorldHost, Serving it Right, WorkSafe BC Occupational First Aid, WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and BC Wine Server.

“We worked closely with Destination Osoyoos to carefully design a program that produces graduates that can convey to visitors the exceptional experiences we have to offer in Osoyoos and area,” says Sharon Reems, Program Coordinator, Okanagan College. “We also have a distinct advantage in that our students will have the opportunity to connect with and learn from the industry that they hope to pursue a career in. Passport to Employment really showcases how our hospitality, wine and food businesses stand out as premium customer service providers.”

Passport to Employment is open to all current high school students in Oliver and Osoyoos. The program begins January 23 and runs until the middle of April. Classes will move between Okanagan College’s Oliver Centre and Osoyoos, and will be held on weekends and evenings. Students will receive four high school credits for successfully completing the program and have the opportunity to participate in a job fair sponsored by Destination Osoyoos. Graduates of the program will also be eligible to apply for a $1,000 scholarship to further their education.

“For those students that successfully complete this program,” says Scott, “they will undoubtedly be ahead of the crowd when it comes to securing jobs this summer and getting started into the career of their choice.”

Passport to Employment is free; current high school students in Oliver and Osoyoos can apply for a spot by calling Sharon Reems at 250-492-4305, ext. 3401 or emailing

College celebrates the first graduates of 2016 at Winter Convocation
Okanagan College Media Release

Amanda Schuffels Jan 2016Crossing the stage this weekend at Okanagan College’s first Convocation ceremony of 2016, 20-year-old Amanda Schuffels from Kelowna will be one of 310 students starting the year on the right foot with a valuable credential to help launch her dream career.

Schuffels is graduating from the Water Engineering Technology (WET) diploma program. While classes for the two-and-a-half-year program only ended in December 2015, she’s already hard at work submitting applications and interviewing with local companies in the Okanagan. Born and raised in Kelowna, she hopes to stay close to home, which was a key deciding factor for studying at Okanagan College, along with the quality of education she received.

“Okanagan College afforded me a hands-on education in labs and the co-op terms were hugely beneficial,” said Schuffels. “I was able to take pumps and valves apart, conduct chemical deliveries off of trucks, troubleshoot problems, and engage in lots of lab work. It gave me real examples to speak about during interviews and I feel prepared for the job ahead.”

In her first co-op term she spent eight months at the wastewater treatment plant in Trail. Her second co-op term was a four-month position at the water treatment facility in Lumby. Both allowed her to dive right into the industry and put to practical use the technical knowledge taught in class and labs.

“Pursuing the WET program just made sense. Every city has irrigation plants, and water and wastewater treatment facilities, with jobs that require specialized training. I know it’s a stable career choice,” she adds.

Gaining an education was top priority for Schuffels, who as a single mom cares for her three-year-old daughter Scarlette.

“When I had my daughter at 17, lots of naysayers told me that I couldn’t pursue any further education. I didn’t let that stop me,” said Schuffels. “I love to learn and education is important to me. I wanted to do something that had purpose. It’s about providing for my daughter, but also being a role model to her.”

Juggling the responsibilities of being a single parent, with a full-time student workload, and holding a part-time job was not easy, but resources at the College facilitated Schuffels’ ability to balance it all, along with support from her family.

“There are these great study rooms you can book for free at the College. It was a way to have my own space to study with no distractions and get the work done I needed to,” she reflects.

Schuffels’ hard work has paid off and she will celebrate this Saturday, Jan. 16, when the College will confer 310 credentials, comprised of 54 bachelor’s degrees, 18 associate degrees, 201 diplomas, and 37 certificates, at the convocation ceremony.  

The morning ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Business, Computer Science, Engineering Technologies, Health and Social Development, and Science programs receive their credentials.  

This winter ceremony marks the first of six to be held in 2016. In June, the College will celebrate Trades Commencement, Spring Convocation, Vernon Convocation and Summer Convocation in separate events.

In 2015 Okanagan College graduated more than 2,000 students from its programs.  

Major funding announced for College research project advocating childhood outdoor play
Okanagan College Media Release

Advancing Early Childhood Educators’ (ECE) training curricula to include the benefits of unstructured outdoor play for children’s wellbeing is no child’s play for Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Okanagan College’s Director of Learning and Teaching, it’s serious work that just received a significant national funding boost.Beverlie Dietze Dec 2013

On Jan. 7, the Lawson Foundation announced funding for 14 projects across Canada as part of its $2.7 million Outdoor Play Strategy. Dietze, who is leading the Okanagan College project with valuable education partners including Dr. Diane Kashin from Toronto’s School of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University, faculty at Lethbridge College in Alberta and at Northern College in Ontario, the Justice Institute of British Columbia and the Canadian Child Care Federation received a $195,000 grant to develop a specialized training model for ECEs about children’s outdoor play that can be delivered in person or online, at no cost to participants.

“Our research leading up to now has shown a serious gap across the country in accessible and affordable training about the immense benefit outdoor play has on children’s development,” said Dietze. “Our aim is to provide the tools and necessary knowledge about outdoor play discovery and learning that will encourage those teaching our children to make it a priority in their programming.”

The project will develop 12 three-hour modules that will cover topics including: open space, intelligent materials, physical literacy, indigenous outdoor play practices, risk taking, accessibility, and diversity in children’s outdoor play needs. It is aimed at 400 current ECEs working in childcare centres in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, as well as ECE faculty at Canadian post-secondary institutions in order to help propel the training of the future labour force.

“We are always proud to exemplify how Okanagan College contributes to the advancement of Canadian post-secondary education by innovation in teaching methods,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Beverlie’s accomplishment with developing this project demonstrates how we achieve our commitment to excellent teaching, programming and applied research.

“We thank the Lawson Foundation for their support in making this project a reality through this important funding contribution,” expressed Hamilton.

“Ultimately, our collective goal is to get children outside to play, imagine, and explore,” explains Dietze. “Outdoor play has been proven to boost children’s overall health and wellness, academic performance, self-esteem and connections to environmental aesthetics and sustainability.”

Among 263 national letters of intent received by the Lawson Foundation, 12 proposals were selected to be a part of the strategy, plus an additional two proposals that were previously funded complete the group of 14. The projects were chosen based on their interest in exploring unstructured outdoor play that encourages kids to take risks, demonstration of being early adopters in the belief of outdoor play benefits, and examples of expertise in the subject.

Dietze has been recognized as a leading Canadian research expert in the field of outdoor play as part of early childhood education. Recently she worked with landscape architects in the Okanagan to innovate new playground spaces and with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness supporting their outdoor play agenda. Her articles have appeared in a number of educational journals, and her first textbook
Foundations of Early Education (2006) was the first Canadian-authored ECE textbook focused on children’s outdoor play spaces.

For additional details about the Lawson Foundation’s Outdoor Play Strategy visit
Spring Speakers Series returns to College’s Penticton campus
Okanagan College Media Release

Throughout January to April, 11 speakers will take the stage weekly as part of Okanagan College’s spring 2016 Speakers Series at the Penticton campus. The public is invited to broaden their horizon of knowledge and hear about the research, published works, and subject expertise present in the South Okanagan region.

“Each year we compile a list of speakers to capture a range of community interests while showcasing the thought-leadership and cultural know-how of these professionals in our region,” said Donna Lomas, South Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Dean at Okanagan College. “Now in our 12
th year hosting the series, we always appreciate the community’s enthusiasm and support to hear from these remarkable individuals.”

The talks will range in topics including: art, history, housing affordability, mental health, sustainability, the environment, immigration and community involvement. 

Lomas herself is intrigued by the highlight of the fine arts in this roundup of speakers. 

“We usually only experience artists – painters, actors, authors – through their creative interpretation. But peeling back the layers, the speakers will candidly share the struggles and rewards of being an artist, and the immense benefit the arts play in our community,” she explained.

Frances Greenslade Jan 2016One such artist is published author and College English Professor Frances Greenslade who will respond to the question of how to find time to write in her Feb. 22 talk “A Writing Life in two Metaphors.” She will draw from her 30 years of writing experience to share the struggles and solutions she’s learned along the way.

“I often feel that writing is more of a trade in that it requires that patience and focused practice with the tools to learn what works,” she explained. “But, I also compare writing to fishing, where a writer needs to plumb the depth of inspiration, and put something on the hook to catch it.” 

Greenslade also adds: “Our society has grown increasingly preoccupied with the economy, and the pursuit of financial rewards. One thing the arts do is remind us of the value of dreams, and shows us the value of things we can’t measure in dollars and cents.”

The Speakers Series takes place on Monday evenings at the Penticton campus lecture theatre from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is by donation, benefitting the College’s Emergency Student Bursary program. Parking on campus is complimentary for the events.
Schedule of events:
  • Jan. 11: Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat, cultural historians, singers, and scholars, “Soviet Princeton: Slim Evans and the 1932/33 Miner's Strike”
  • Jan. 18: Robert Ryan, Okanagan College Business Professor, “Affordable Housing in British Columbia - Perspectives”
  • Feb. 1: Janet White, Registered Clinical Counsellor at Maya Counselling, “The Importance of Anxiety”
  • Feb. 22: Frances Greenslade, Okanagan College English Professor, “A Writing Life in Two Metaphors”
  • Feb. 29: Jeremy Beaulne, Okanagan College English Professor, “The Play's the Thing: Community Theatre in the Okanagan Valley”
  • Mar. 7: Dorothy Tinning, Artist, former Mayor of Penticton, and Okanagan College Honorary Fellow, “The Essential Elements for an Artist”
  • Mar. 14: Dr. Amy Vaillancourt, Okanagan College Sustainable Construction Management Technology program Chair and Professor, “Benefits of Green Walls”
  • Mar. 21: Don Gayton, ecologist and author, “Overview of Okanagan Wetlands”
  • Apr. 4: Nora Hunt-Haft, Local Immigration Partnership Coordinator at the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, “Aspirations of Immigration”
  • Apr. 11: Wendy Weisner, South Okanagan Volunteer Centre Society Executive Director, “Volunteering - It's Good for You, Your Community, and for Those You Help”
  • Apr. 18: Bob and Brita Park, “Why Local Environmental Activism is Important”

For detailed topic descriptions of the speakers’ talks, visit:

Competition win a sweet success for culinary student, next round serves up $50,000 in trades entrance bursaries
Okanagan College Media Release

Between juggling a busy work schedule and caring for her three-year-old son, sous chef Rachel Broe thought her dream of becoming a certified Red Seal Chef would have to stay on the backburner. Then she found the recipe for a new future in 500 words or less.Rachel Broe Jan 2016

“I was completely overwhelmed when I found out I had won, it was a life-changing moment,” says Broe, who learned last summer that that an essay she had penned was selected as the top entry in a B.C.-wide competition organized by the Okanagan College Foundation, the College’s Trades and Apprenticeship department and Sun FM stations in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton.

Broe enrolled in the Professional Cook Apprenticeship program at the Kelowna campus in September and has been quick to parlay her training into new opportunity. Now, she is inviting others to follow her lead and tell their story – it could mean a major entrance bursary to Okanagan College by the end of this month.

Entries for the second round of the competition will be accepted from Jan. 11-31. Ten bursaries valued at $5,000 each will be awarded to students who demonstrate financial need and who are looking to enrol in one of five eligible Foundation trades programs at Okanagan College this year: Culinary Arts, Collision Repair, RV Technician, Residential Construction and Sheet Metal Worker.

“Cooking has always been my passion,” says Broe. “But my son is my top priority. So receiving a bursary like this has taken the stress out of going back to school. It has allowed me to focus on my future and get the most out of this amazing opportunity.”

Shortly after moving to Kelowna, she landed a new job in the fast-paced kitchen of the Tree Brewing Beer Institute in downtown Kelowna. Broe also hopes to compete against some of the best up-and-coming chefs in the province at the Skills Canada culinary competitions coming up in April.

Her previous experience includes more than five years working up the line to Sous Chef in the busy kitchen of Theos Restaurant in Penticton. Broe credits owners Theo and Mary Theodosakis for nurturing in her a deep love and respect for food.

“Having love in your food is very important,” she notes. “The family at Theo’s has broadened my passion and
helped me immensely throughout my journey.”

Ultimately, Broe hopes to complete Level 3 apprenticeship training, which involves 36 weeks of classroom training and three years of work based training as a chef.

“I’m incredibly excited about what this training can mean for my future. I’ve already learned an incredible amount in a short time at the College,” she says.

Entries are now being accepted for the second round of the Trades Tuition Competition. The competition is open to B.C. residents aged 17 years or older. Full contest rules and more information about how to enter can be found at

The competition is being coordinated in partnership with Sun FM in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton and EZ Rock Salmon Arm and Revelstoke which have donated media and promotional support to help promote this opportunity to potential students from Salmon Arm to the South Okanagan. Bursaries have been made possible as part of a generous donation of $250,000 to Okanagan College made by The Joyce Foundation in December 2015.

Culinary Arts open house demonstrates ripe opportunities for Okanagan chefs
Okanagan College Media Release

Jenna Pillon May 2015Imagine landing your dream job at the age of 25. Chef Jenna Pillon has done just that and was able to do it without leaving the Okanagan Valley. 

Pillon is settling into her second year at the helm of one of the South Okanagan’s most esteemed winery restaurants, Hester Creek’s Terrafina in Oliver, and is savouring every minute of it. 

Her culinary career took off rather quickly once she completed her Professional Cook Level 3 Apprenticeship at Okanagan College in 2011. After a two-month stint as a sous-chef, she was promoted to Restaurant Chef at Terrafina.

“I am where I’d hoped to be in five years,” she says. “I’ve come a long way in a short period of time and I’m still working on what’s next.” 

Long before she was creating beautiful dishes at Terrafina, cooking formed a significant part of her life. Pillon grew up cooking at home in Salmon Arm with her family but it wasn’t until she got her first job in a kitchen at a pub in her hometown at the age of 16 that the idea of cooking professionally became a real interest.  

“I realized the excitement of cooking on a line was fantastic and decided to pursue it more,” said Pillon. 

And pursue it she did. After completing her Professional Cook Level 1, she became an apprentice chef at Manteo Restaurant in Kelowna under renowned Chef Bernard Casavant, who is now the Culinary Manager at Okanagan College. She then successfully challenged the Professional Cook Level 2 exams and entered the six-week Level 3 apprenticeship program at Okanagan College. 

For Pillon, the best part of the Culinary Arts program at Okanagan College was the opportunity for hands-on learning. 

“Learning how to process local wild boar and venison in class was fantastic,” she said. “The College’s instructors are very knowledgeable. They helped me so much with wine knowledge, competition practice and constructive criticism. They try to make you the best cook you can be.”

The College is opening up its kitchen doors on the evening of Thursday, May 14, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., and is inviting anyone interested in pursuing a career in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts or Culinary Management to explore the options for training for a dynamic career. 

“Cooking is a craft that takes true passion and it can be intimidating for the average person who hasn’t had any professional training,” explained Chef Casavant. “The truth is, with the right instruction and opportunities, anyone with that passion can turn it into a career with endless possibilities.”

Anyone interested in attending the free Culinary Arts open house can contact Chef Geoffrey Couper at to register.  
Making the case for evidence-based science in the political arena
Okanagan College Media Release

Katie Gibbs Jan 2016 WebA new era of optimism for science in Canada is emerging. Within days of coming into power, the federal Liberal government lifted a veil of secrecy by giving government scientists a green light to speak directly to the media and the public. 

This change invites the question: will we see science play an increasing role in government decision-making in the near future? 

Dr. Katie Gibbs, co-founder and Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, will address this notion in a public talk titled “Evidence for Democracy: is science on the rise?” on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre. 

Canadian government scientists play a key role in safeguarding the country’s environment, air, water, and food. They are also extensively involved in the review and regulation of industrial and consumer products such as pesticides and medicine. Scientists’ ability to communicate freely about their work and concerns to both the media and public is paramount to ensure transparency in government decision-making that is supported by evidence-based science.  

Gibbs argues that government actions in recent years have weakened the country’s foundation for informed decision-making. These changes have happened in three distinct ways: a reduction in the ability of government scientists to communicate their research to the public, the erosion of fundamental research and environmental monitoring among other science initiatives, and a reduction in the role scientific evidence plays in policy decisions.

“The impacts of these changes go far beyond science,” asserts Gibbs. “Science and evidence are essential elements of a functioning democracy, which requires informed citizens and transparent decision-making.”  

She adds that the recent changes invoked by the Liberals are promising but there is still much work to be done. This includes the need to enshrine the right of scientists to open communication in formal policies and the rebuilding of Canada’s research capacity through publicly funded science.

Gibbs is a scientist, organizer and advocate for science and evidence-based policies. While completing her PhD at the University of Ottaw
a, she was a lead organizer of the “Death of Evidence” rally, one of the largest science rallies in Canadian history. An avid spokesperson on science policy issues, organizations and national media outlets alike frequently seek her expertise commentary.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644.
To subscribe or obtain more information visit

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Cooper’s Food, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Lunelli family helps Okanagan College inspire the automotive tradespeople of tomorrow
Okanagan College Media Release

A local family that includes two generations of Okanagan College alumni has made a major donation to assist the next generation of automotive technicians at B.C.’s second largest trades training institution.Lunelli Family Jan. 2016

Tony and Franca Lunelli, founders of Anthony’s Subaru, have pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons - Building for Skills fundraising campaign. The donation will assist the College to build and outfit a classroom space in the new Trades Training Complex under construction at the Kelowna campus.

“Skilled technicians are always in demand in our industry,” says Franca Lunelli. “Tony and I are firm believers in the importance of education, and so we’re delighted to support the College and the automotive apprentices of the future.”

“This generous gift to Okanagan College and its students is all the more meaningful given the Lunelli family’s long history with the College,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We are so grateful for their support and appreciate the wonderful connection they have built as alumni, mentors, and donors.”

Since moving to the Okanagan in 1970 from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the automotive business has been a constant in the lives of the Lunellis.

After beginning his career as a technician and working in sales for more than a decade, Tony Lunelli opened 5
th Avenue Auto in West Kelowna in 1981. He acquired the property for the original Anthony’s Subaru dealership in 1988 and began selling Subarus in 1995; a second Subaru dealership followed in Penticton in 1998.

The business remains a family enterprise. New Anthony’s Subaru dealerships launched in Penticton in 2000 and Kelowna in 2014, operated by the Lunelli’s children, Christina Bailey and Anthony Lunelli Jr., both Okanagan College alumni.

“Our family’s connection to the College began with my dad who upgraded his education by taking business courses at the College in the early 1980s, and the connection grew from there,” says Bailey, who studied Arts at Okanagan College in 1994 before completing her degree at UBC. Her brother Anthony completed his Bachelor of Business Administration at the College in 2007.

“We’ve hired apprentices from the College for decades,” explains Anthony. “It has been wonderful to witness the growth of trades at the College over the years, and now to be a part of the next chapter is very exciting and humbling.”

A recent labour market outlook identified Automotive Service Technicians (AST) as one of the top three trades sector occupations in the Okanagan. Demand is expected to remain strong, with call for more than new 1,100 technicians provincially between now and 2024.

Currently, more than 200 FTE (full-time equivalent) automotive students train at the College per year. An expanded and rejuvenated automotive shop opened to students last year as part of the $33-million renovation and expansion of its trades facilities that will wrap up next spring with the opening of the new complex. Gifts like the Lunelli’s will help the College continue to upgrade shop and classroom spaces. The new complex will accommodate more than 2,600 students and will provide the College’s trades students with new labs, classrooms, study and food service space.

The fundraising campaign’s goal is $7 million — including $2 million for new programming and student support — to top up the Provincial Government’s $28-million investment in the project.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at