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Records 1 to 4 of 14
College apprentices shine at Skills BC competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Nathan Schulte April 2015Okanagan College claimed half a dozen medals at the annual Skills BC provincial competition held in Abbotsford in April, including gold in two categories, earning berths into the national competition in Saskatoon next month. 

The College’s Nathan Schulte took gold in Plumbing and Ethan Delichte also won gold in Automotive Service Tech, both outperformed competitors from across the province and will vie for the national title in their respective categories. 

Daniel Forbes won silver in Automotive Collision Repair and bronze was won by the following apprentices: Samantha Wardrop in Aerospace Technology, Maxwell Anderson in Automotive Service Tech, and Nathan Barg in Cabinetmaking.

Schulte, who can now call himself the best apprentice plumber in B.C., completed the entry-level foundation Plumbing program at the College in February and is currently apprenticing at Modulux Designs in Winfield. He put his name forward to represent the College because he knew it would be a great learning experience and he wanted to test his skills.

“I’m a very competitive person and I’ve played sports my whole life so I was excited to go up against the rest of the province’s apprentices,” said Schulte. “It was really a lot of fun and I knew that no matter what the outcome, it would be a good experience.”

Schulte had six hours to build a drainage system for a bathroom group (sink, tub, toilet). According to his coach, instructor Bruce Slater, the assignment was challenging for a first-year student.

“It was really tough and the students used all of their allowed time,” said Slater. “At the end of the day Nathan was more accurate. Only three out of the six entries passed the pressure test, Nathan’s was one of them. I’m very proud of him and it’s really incredible to see how far he’s come. At the beginning of the program most of the students didn’t even know how to hold a wrench and to see the work they can do now, says a lot about their abilities and how strong our program is.”

Schulte will head to the national competition in his hometown of Saskatoon in a month. The experience will be extra special for him because his parents will be able to watch him compete.
25th year of math contest marks College Professor’s retirement
Okanagan College Media Release

In a game of numbers, 25 holds particular significance for Okanagan College Math Professor Dr. Clint Lee. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the British Columbia Secondary School Mathematics Contest (BCSSMC), founded and chaired by Lee since its inception in 1990 and hosted at Okanagan College.

“I could have retired last year from the College, but I wanted to hang on for just one more year specifically to see the math contest to this important milestone,” says Lee, who is announcing his retirement after 25 years of teaching at the College. “It’s a highlight of my career, to know that thousands of students were engaged in mathematics over the course of 25 years, some of whom as a result were inspired to continue their studies at the post-secondary level to become scientists, doctors, and even professors.

“I am proud to be able to call this my legacy.”

On Friday, May 1 Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus will host nearly 90 of the brightest high school mathematicians from 15 schools in the region for the annual contest. Competing in either of two categories – juniors (Grade 8 to 10) and seniors (Grade 11 and 12) – students have the morning to complete multiple choice and long hand questions that will test their logic and mathematical skills. Adding a level of challenge: no calculators are allowed. 

At an afternoon awards ceremony that same day, the top senior student will be awarded a one-semester tuition scholarship to either Okanagan College or UBC Okanagan (co-sponsor of the contest), to a maximum value of $3,000. Top finishers in each category also earn prizes ranging from $50 to $200.

“It’s important for students to have an opportunity to be recognized for their achievements in math, and to see the community engage in the conversation,” notes Lee.

Okanagan College Salmon Arm student Jonathan Bakker, studying his Associate of Science Degree, agrees. Participating in five contests throughout Grade 8 to 12, in his final year, last year, he earned an impressive second-place finish in the senior division. “I’ve always been interested in math, but more than that, the contest helped me practice problem solving, time management, and analytical skills which are definitely applicable in my studies at the College, and beyond,” says Bakker. “It’s about trying to approach a problem from different angles and applying different theories to get to the solution.”

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton recognized Lee for his many years of teaching at the College, and broader contribution to the education community. 

“Clint has done tremendous work to foster a keen interest in young students for the mathematics discipline,” said Hamilton. “We commend him for his dedication, passion, and determination each year to coordinate this event, and going above and beyond his teaching commitments here at the College.”

Stepping into the role of contest coordinator for 2016 will be Leslie Shayer, along with Satoshi Tomoda, both Mathematics Professors at Okanagan College. 

The Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), Mathtoons Media, and the Canadian Mathematics Society (CMS) proudly sponsor the BCSSMC.
College honours Butters, Embree, Pushor and Sharkey
Okaangan College Media Release

Okanagan College will recognize four esteemed community builders as Honorary Fellows during its 2015 Convocation ceremonies in June, including renowned Chef Rod Butters, entrepreneur Norm Embree, lawyer Rick Pushor and social planner Annette Sharkey. 

“I am extremely proud to announce these four individuals as Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College,” said president Jim Hamilton. “Much like the College, they are diverse, unique and represent a wide range of interests and communities. We recognize them as Honorary Fellows for demonstrating excellence in their chosen fields and decades of service to the people of our region.”

Rod Butters April 2015Rod Butters is best known locally as one of Kelowna’s top chefs, but his reputation extends well beyond the Okanagan. He is the chef and owner of both RauDZ Regional Table and micro bar & bites. Butters’ career has taken him into the kitchens of the Four Seasons Hotel group including Toronto, Chateau Whistler, and Shangri-La Hong Kong, to name a few. In 1996 he became Chef de Cuisine of the world famous Wickaninnish Inn of Tofino. He relocated to Kelowna in 2000 to open the award-winning Fresco Restaurant and Lounge. He was inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Canadian Chefs Federation Honour Society in 2013 for outstanding commitment to his profession. 

Butters is credited with advancing the farm-to-table movement through his local restaurants. He is also heavily involved in a number of not-for-profit initiatives and supports the Kelowna Food Bank, Growing Chefs, and Nature’s Trust, among others. Butters is an active member of the Okanagan College culinary community – he serves as Chair of the Culinary Arts program advisory council and has mentored and hired numerous Okanagan College apprentices and Red Seal chefs. 

Norm Embree has spent a lifetime working as an entrepreneur and has devoted decades to Norm Embree April 2015public service, most notably as the former Chair of the Interior Health Authority Board of Directors (2007-14) and as Chair of the Board of Governors as Okanagan College transitioned from Okanagan University College in 2004-05 and served until 2006. 

Embree’s career began in securities and he eventually joined his family’s machining business, Embree Industries Ltd. of Hamilton, ON, which was founded by his grandfather in 1913. At just 34 years of age, he bought the company from his father and became President and CEO. Embree would grow the company to become a manufacturing and distribution business with more than 90 employees and several million dollars in annual consolidated sales. 

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Embree made good use of his degree in economics and went on to work for the Business Development Bank of Canada, as well as forming his own management consulting company, Presidents Network Inc. 

Embree moved to Salmon Arm in the late 90s and became deeply involved in a number of not-for-profit organizations. He has served as a Board member of the Salmon Arm Economic Development Advisory Committee, OUC, Haney Heritage House, Shuswap Hospice Society, Nature Trust of BC, and the College of Pharmacists of BC. He has been a driving force behind the fundraising efforts of the Shuswap Hospice Society, the BC Liberals, the Shuswap Centre for the Neskonlith First Nation and the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm. 

Rick Pushor April 2015Rick Pushor is a founding partner of Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna. Established more than 40 years ago, Pushor Mitchell now numbers more than 120 employees and is the largest law firm in B.C. outside of Vancouver. 

He earned his undergraduate degree and law degree at the University of Alberta, relocated to Kelowna in the 1970s and practiced with Pushor Mitchell until 2013, when he retired. Pushor’s preferred practice areas include business formation, financing, restricting, acquisition, and share and asset transactions. 

Pushor is a founding director of both the Rutland Rotary and the Ogopogo Rotary clubs and past director of Pathways (formerly the Central Okanagan Society for Community Living). He is the past president of the B.C. Curling Association and the B.C. Interior Junior Downhill Ski Association. He was also deeply involved in the Kelowna Minor Baseball Association, where he served as past director and was a longtime coach. 

Pushor continues to be active in Chaparral Industries (86) INC., a business he owns with his two sons.

Annette Sharkey is the current Executive Director of the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan and has provided leadership in the social services field since taking Annette Sharkey April 2015on the role in 2006. 

Raised in Vernon, Sharkey attended classes at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from the University of British Columbia but continues to be deeply involved with the College, serving on the Vernon Regional Advisory Committee and partnering in several College initiatives, such as Patchwork Farms at the Kalamalka Garden. 

Sharkey has worked in the not-for-profit sector since graduating from university in front-line roles with agencies such as the RCMP, women’s centre, and immigrant services. Her passion and commitment to inspire significant change led her into the social planning field and she is a proponent of Partners in Action, a consultative model of social planning. Partners in Action has mobilized the community and created significant change when it comes to social issues.  

Sharkey has brought more than $6 million dollars in capital into the North Okanagan through the Partners in Action model. 

Each Honorary Fellow of the College will address a unique graduating class in June. Embree will attend the morning ceremony on Saturday, June 6 in Kelowna and Butters will address the graduating class of business students later that afternoon. Pushor will attend Summer Convocation on Thursday, June 25 and Sharkey will attend the Vernon ceremony on Tuesday, June 23. 

The 2015 Honorary Fellows join colleagues: Margriet Ruurs, Raghwa Gopal, Jim Henderson, and Garry Benson (2014); Alan Gatzke, Ernie Philip and Barry Lapointe (2013); Janet Shaw, Yasmin John-Thorpe and Lane Merrifield (2012); Beverley Busson, Mel Kotler and Dr. Tom Landecker (2011); Dorothy Tinning, George and Trudy Heiss and Peter Haubrich (2010); Robert Fine, Barbara Marchand and Charles Armstrong (2009); Jeannette Armstrong, Ken Harding, Richard Cannings, Robert Cannings and Sydney Cannings (2008); Ken Smedley, Lorraine McGrath and Ross Gorman (2007); Mike Roberts, Lois Serwa and Albert Baldeo (2006).  
One year of ‘likes’ in sharing Kelowna’s storied past through photos
Okanagan College Media Release

Modern technology is giving Kelowna’s rich history a collective voice. With 8,400 likes garnered since its launch, the Old Kelowna Dorothy and Charlie Bubb April 2015Facebook page is celebrating its one-year anniversary on Friday, April 24.

It all started when Okanagan College English professor Dr. Shona Harrison, a fourth-generation Kelowna resident, posted a photo on her personal page of her grandmother, Dorothy Bubb and her brother Charlie, in front of the Train Station in the 1920s. Today the building is restored and operates as a popular pub. The overwhelming response from friends intrigued Harrison about the community’s appetite for cherishing the past.

“I saw an opportunity to share stories of our past and to make accessible the hidden narratives of Kelowna’s history: its residents, families, businesses, buildings and culture,” shares Harrison. “Pictures tell a remarkable story. Since I launched the page last spring, it has grown exponentially, quite unexpectedly. The number of photo submissions individuals continue to send to the page for sharing is quite remarkable.”

Applying her arts education, Harrison credits her scholarly background in medieval manuscript studies for her expertise in cataloguing and archives, skills that were instrumental in launching the social media page. An excavator of photos, she knew how and where to look when beginning the quest of sharing the city’s history through photos. 

“The Old Kelowna page has done a great job of engaging the community and has helped spark a renewed interest in the preservation of our local heritage,” says Amanda Snyder, Kelowna Museums Curatorial Manager. “The community support and participation the site has received reflects the keen interest Kelowna residents have in protecting our shared heritage.”

A Director on the board for the Central Okanagan Heritage Society, as well as a committee member for the City of Kelowna’s Heritage Grants Program, Harrison’s commitment to preserving the city’s old structures is nothing new. She hopes the social media conversation generated will shine a spotlight on the importance of maintaining the buildings that are integral to how Kelowna got to be where it is today.

“Kelowna is in transition, and while growth brings many benefits, it also evokes a certain anxiety and lament about the past, especially preserving it for generations to come,” comments Harrison. “I hope that the page can inspire the preservation, and repurposing of old buildings for a harmonious marriage of old and new.”

The Old Kelowna Facebook page has received likes from individuals in more than 22 different countries. Its popularity momentum continues, and it received the Special Projects in Heritage Preservation 2015 award from the City of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan Heritage Society. Most recently, it was nominated for the Best of Kelowna award, results will be known at the end of May.

To browse through our city’s past, and share your own heritage family photos, visit
College Alumnus helps trades students plug into cutting edge classroom and financial skills training
Okanagan College Media Release

The current generation of students needs to feel that the community is behind them and invested in their futures, says an Okanagan College alumnus whose donation is helping build a new learning environment at the College’s Kelowna campus.DKL April 2015

Dale Lamb, President of D.K.L. Financial Services Inc., has donated $50,000 towards to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign. Lamb’s support will help build a state-of-the-art classroom space in the new Trades Training Complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road. 

“Having called the Okanagan valley home for the past 36 years, I believe it’s important to give back locally,” says Lamb. “When I heard about the new trades facilities at Okanagan College and the way this space would elevate training to a whole new level for students in our community, I thought ‘What a great way to show my own children that giving back is important.

“I see this as an opportunity not just to support students, but also to inspire young people—and everyone in our community—that whether it’s a few dollars or thousands, by giving back and paying it forward, we can all have an impact.”

“The new trades training complex is going to help us be proactive in training new apprentices and staying out in front of the province-wide skills gap projected in the trades sector over the next decade,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We sincerely appreciate Dale Lamb’s investment in our students’ futures with this generous donation and through his active involvement in mentorship at the College.”

There's one key set of tools that all trades students need but won’t find in a tool box, says Lamb: the tools to manage their money.

Which is why, in addition to making a donation toward the Building for Skills campaign, Lamb has also stepped up to sponsor a series of financial literacy and money management presentations for students. He notes that trades students especially, as they step into high-paying employment that often involves complicated contracts and work in and out-of-province, should learn a few key money management skills specific to their sector and type of employment.

“We have many clients who are tradespeople, so we understand the specific challenges and pitfalls they can face if they don’t have a solid understanding of how to manage their earnings right off the bat,” explains Lamb. 

“We hope this series will be very informative for students and gets them excited about planning ahead for their futures as they step out into the workforce, or upgrade their skills at the College to take their careers to the next level.”

Lamb studied business at Okanagan College before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on business economics and statistics at the University of Victoria. Over the past 20 years as an advisor affiliated with Sun Life Financial, and running his own brand D.K.L. Financial, Lamb has been a leader and one of the top performers in the financial field, not only in Canada, but also worldwide.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million.

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in BC. When completed in spring of 2016, the new complex will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada. To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Nickoli and Perrott earn College’s Alumni Association top honours
Okanagan College Media Release

Embodying true ambassadorship for our region, two outstanding Okanagan College alumni are being recognized by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their exceptional contributions to the communities in which they live.  

Sareena Nickoli April 2015Vernon’s Sareena Sharma Nickoli is this year’s recipient of the OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/ or support for Okanagan College. Kelowna’s John Perrott will receive the OCAA Young Alumni Award, an award celebrating the outstanding contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35. 

Their combined achievements in promoting economic development for the Okanagan, significant charitable contributions, commitment to volunteering for the betterment of the community, and their consistent positive can-do attitudes have earned them the OCAA’s top honours.

Nickoli, Director of Purchasing and Marketing at Vernon’s City Furniture & Appliances is a 2001 Bachelor of Business Administration graduate, and in 2003 she returned to the College to pursue an Interior Decorating Certificate that equipped her to excel in the family furniture business. 

Never one to sit idle, Nickoli is also a leading Zumba Fitness instructor helping many in the community move to the rhythm and dance their way to a healthier lifestyle. She recently launched Vernon’s Soul Studio, where she teaches four fitness and dance classes a week plus workshops, and manages a team of instructors, on top of her career with City Furniture. 

Leveraging her passion for Zumba fitness she has organized multiple Zumbathons that have helped raise tens-of-thousands of dollars for the new maternity tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and to help purchase land for the Habitat for Humanity Vernon chapter. She has sat on the Board of the Downtown Vernon Association, volunteered with the Queen Silver Excellence programs mentoring young dancers, is a member of the Vernon Women in Business, and been a guest speaker at Women’s Enterprise Center and Community Futures events.

“I am humbled, I was taken aback when I found out about the award,” shares Nickoli. “I do things because I love to do them and to help out. Having inspired people to get fit and give back to their community along the way has been very rewarding.”

Young Alumni Award recipient Perrott graduated from the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration in 2003, specializing in Marketing. John Perrott April 2015

Early in his career, Perrott demonstrated civic dedication through his work with the Downtown Kelowna Association, first as the Marketing Director, and eventually as Executive Director. He immersed himself into creating a better sense of place for the city’s residents, and visitors, and as a result has been invited to speak at conferences as an expert on various downtown management topics.

Staying on the civic path, today Perrott is the District of West Kelowna’s Economic Development Officer. Pioneering this role he is paving the way in generating economic growth, including promoting tourism through the creation of the Westside Wine Trail and Westside Farm Loops for the District.

Giving back to his community, Perrott currently serves on the Board of Directors for Creative Okanagan and has volunteered with Central Okanagan non-profit organization The Bridge Youth and Family Services, has served as Chair of the Exceptional Service Under the Sun Award committee, been the Vice President of the Business Improvement Area Association of British Columbia, and previously served as a Services Canada Employment Insurance Board of Referees member.

“It’s an honour to be recognized with this award, especially when you consider the esteemed list of business and community leaders who have earned the distinction in years past,” says Perrott. “It’s a real privilege to join their circle.” 

“Both Sareena and John have accomplished a great deal in their careers to date,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “We believe that the contributions to their communities and industries sets a standard that all current and future Okanagan College alumni should strive toward. They are a true testament to the exceptional educational and experiential foundation provided by the College.”

Nickoli and Perrott’s achievements will be celebrated at the Okanagan College Alumni Association awards ceremony and reception at the College’s Kelowna campus on October 15, 2015. For more information about the awards and previous years’ recipients, please visit
Inland donation drives home local industry support for Okanagan College’s trades campaign
Okanagan College Media Release

Inland Donation April 2015Engines were revving and the crowd was cheering as a big cheque was presented to Okanagan College at Inland Kenworth’s open house on Saturday.

Inland has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizon’s Building for Skills Campaign. “The Smoking Gun”, a 1968 Canadian Kenworth diesel drag semi, roared in the background as the Inland team presented the cheque to Okanagan College Foundation’s John Haller at the company’s West Kelowna location on Ross Road.

The donation will help build a bay in the new three-storey Trades Training Complex currently under construction along KLO Road. 

“The new trades training complex will elevate the Southern Interior as a hub for trades training, by providing students with a world-class facility to match the high quality of instruction that Okanagan College has offered for more than fifty years,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We’re very grateful to Inland for investing in the future of our students and our campus.”

“We’re very proud to call the Okanagan home,” says Boyd McConnachie, vice president of business development at Inland. “It is key to the economy that local businesses and organizations work together to develop our own homegrown talent.” 

Inland originated in the Okanagan over 65 years ago, with operations in Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops. The West Kelowna facility is the most recent addition, opening for business last fall. Inland now owns dealerships throughout Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and B.C. and the Yukon Territories in Canada. 

The BC-based company is a strong supporter of apprenticeship. As a way of promoting and encouraging Red Seal Training, Inland provides apprentices with tools, mentorship, and other support to help them begin their careers. 

“Inland is well known for employees who spend their whole careers with the company,” says Kent Brownlow, vice president of human resources at Inland. “To hold on to that loyalty, we must invest in training and provide opportunities for our employees to continuously learn and improve their skills and expertise.” 

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The project includes a 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion, including new construction and bringing the College’s existing shops and classroom spaces up to LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards. When doors open in 2016, the new facility will accommodate over 2,400 students, almost doubling capacity for trades training at the Kelowna campus. Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C.

The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. The goal of the campaign is to top this up by raising $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support—which includes entrance awards and other assistance to help students start training.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Trio of Okanagan College business students seek votes in the Economist’s competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Find a company that you think has the potential to fail. Langille, Vnadergaag, Loyd April 2015

Wait, let’s make it a little harder: find a company that is currently valued at billions of dollars that you think has the potential to fail within five years. Explain why you think it may fail.

Next, let’s have you do it in a venue that is international, in an event sponsored by the world’s leading business magazine, The Economist.

That was the challenge facing three Okanagan College students, whose submission to The Economist’s student case competition is to be found online among 17 other submissions from business schools from around the globe, including the US, Finland, Hong Kong and Britain. The only other Canadian team entered is from Carleton University. The American competitors include teams from Kent State, Loyola, Rutgers, the University of Colorado, Texas Tech University, and San Jose State University. 

Officially the competition is called “Find a Zero: Which Billion Dollar Company Will be Bankrupt by 2020" and is sponsored by Kerrisdale Capital Investment. (Kerrisdale Capital is an investment management firm based in New York that is known to publically engage in the practice of “short selling” securities. Short selling involves researching and anticipating declines in the value of shares in order to capitalize on the drop in price.)

The purpose of the competition is for students to research and identify business strategies used by actual companies that may be over-valued in the markets. First prize in the competition is $15,000 US. The entire prize package totals $26,000 US, including a $3,000 people’s choice award.  

Coached by Okanagan College Professor Dr. Yunke He (a CFA Charterholder), Karen Vandergaag and her teammates, David Langille and Curtis Loyd spent countless hours in the two-week window they had for the competition looking at various sectors, before settling on the telecommunications industry. From there, it was a review of major players until they settled on a prospect.

“The task was daunting,” explains Vandergaag. “First we needed to zero in on a sector or an industry and then search out one of the larger players and test its strength and stability, looking for issues with the company’s business strategy and its valuation, watching for disruptive forces and trends within the company’s sector.”

The trio of fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration students put together a compelling case about why they think the company may find itself in deep financial trouble by 2020. Their argument focuses on the practice of growing through acquisitions, and its effect on a company that is already highly leveraged, participating in an industry that requires ongoing transitions to new technology to remain competitive. 

“We’ll learn in May what the judges of the competition think of our choice and case submission,” says Loyd. “Hopefully our case will be compelling and will resonate with the judges.”

“It was an intense undertaking,” says Langille. “It was a great chance to put the analytical skills and knowledge developed through our studies to work.”

“Case studies such as this are an integral part of the academic experience at Okanagan College,” explains Dr. Heather Banham, the College’s Dean of the School of Business. “We encourage students to participate because, as in this instance, it gives them a chance to put what they learn to work.”

“This case competition is particularly interesting because it is a different approach, with the students asked to look for a company that may be about to experience failure,” adds Banham. “It is important to realize that their analysis is an academic exercise. The companies identified by the teams in this competition may already have plans to deal with perceived weaknesses.”

To view and vote for the Okanagan College team’s entry visit
A recipe for success, College alumnus wins big at investors’ forum
Okanagan College Media Release

Donnie Ungaro 2015Hungry for business, Okanagan College alumnus Donnie Ungaro credits making calculated business decisions, following his passion, and serendipitous timing as a few of the keys to his recent success at Venture Okanagan. 

Ungaro took top spot at the local investors forum held last week at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. Presenting in front of more than 90 spectators and business leaders, Ungaro successfully pitched his business Culinary Ink—a socially conscious comfort food business powered by bicycle—to a panel of Angel investors. He was rewarded with the grand prize of $5,000 from title sponsor Grant Thornton LLP to put towards the developing business. 

“The win couldn’t have come at a better time,” shared Ungaro. “I recently decided to commit my time completely to the launch and growth of this business. It’s a validation of my decisions and of the company’s potential.”

A graduate of Okanagan College’s School of Business, and also recipient of the Young Alumni Award in 2014, Ungaro acknowledges that the Bachelor of Business Administration degree he earned in 2003 provided a sound foundation. 

“It goes beyond the tangible degree, it’s the people you meet that is the greatest value. You maybe don’t realize this as a student, but I can attest that the community at the College was instrumental in bringing Culinary Ink to life,” noted Ungaro, adding that beyond the mentorship from instructors, and networking opportunities, he is currently interviewing College alumni to potentially join the company. He even chuckles to mention he met his wife indirectly via the College community.

Initially, Ungaro started a thriving career in insurance, but the tragic loss of his father in 2006 led him to self-reflect on pursuing a career he was passionate about, not just a job that paid well. He gained some training in culinary school, apprenticed with top chefs, including Chef Rod Butters of Kelowna’s Raudz Regional Table, and started building the concept.

As an entrepreneur, Ungaro calls the Venture Okanagan prize a nice buffer to help launch his company, though there’s no slowing down now. He’s already appropriated the funds, that includes having booked a booth at the upcoming Canadian College and University Food Services Association trade show (to be held in June in Kelowna). 

“I’m hoping having a presence there could help lock in additional contracts to be at colleges across Canada and operate the company on a franchise model.”

Culinary Ink launches this month, and beginning April 25 two food bikes located at the College’s Kelowna campus will serve up dishes including taco al pastor, served in a “taco cone” made of naan, and chipotle mac ‘n’ cheese with pulled pork. Ungaro says they are dishes you can feel good about eating since 10 per cent of all sales will be donated to support three local charities: the Kelowna Food Bank, Metro Community and Soles4Souls.

“Donnie exemplifies what we see in many of our graduates at the College. They are bold, smart, innovative and creative,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “The Venture Okanagan competition was very steep. It’s an exceptionally proud moment to have one of our alumni recognized by the business community at an event held right here on our campus.” 

In addition to Culinary Ink, other pitches included Motivation Engine, VO2 Master, Visland Media, Illuminous Laser System, and X Co. Venture Okanagan is a private sector entity investors’ forum that is organized collectively by the Okanagan Angel Investor Network and Enactus Okanagan College. It is made possible with support from title sponsors Grant Thornton and the Business Development Bank of Canada. 

“The entrepreneurial spirit in the Okanagan is alive and well,” noted Steven Watson, Okanagan College business professor and Venture Okanagan Chair. “Venture Okanagan brings the community together – entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and students. There definitely is an appetite by investors to hear these business ideas.”

To the budding entrepreneurs for which the Okanagan is quickly becoming known for, Ungaro shares his advice: “passion, education, experience and purpose. The success is in putting your heart into it.”

Photo credit: Pinstripe Productions

Support from regional media helps Okanagan College spread the word about trades training complex campaign
Okanagan College Media Release

Media outlets across the valley are helping Okanagan College to spread the word about the fundraising campaign behind the renovation and expansion of the $33-million Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus—and the added awareness has helped to bring in some life-changing support for students.

Global News, Shaw, Bell Media, Black Press, Daily Courier, and Castanet have donated over $385,000 collectively in advertising and media support to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise $7 million: $5 million for renovation and construction on the new three-storey trades tower along KLO Road, and $2 million for program and student support, which includes bursaries and other assistance to help students enter into trades programs.

“With a province-wide skills shortage projected across the trades sector, Okanagan College is renovating and expanding our facilities to train ahead of that need and help thousands of new tradespeople get job-ready,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We truly appreciate how the region’s media has bolstered our efforts to raise awareness about this project.”

Bell Media has donated over $158,000, Black Press has contributed over $77,000, Global Okanagan and Shaw have jointly contributed $100,000, The Daily Courier has contributed $30,000, and Castanet $25,000 in donated media support.

According to the campaign team, the media’s added support in sharing stories about the trades expansion has been crucial for showcasing how the community can get involved and the positive impact that their donations will have on future students. 

“When you consider that the new complex will be able to accommodate over 2,400 students per year, the ripple effect of those students entering the workforce, supporting their families, and contributing to our local economy is immense,” says Campaign Chair, Dennis Gabelhouse. “Our donors are contributing to that ripple effect—their donation is a direct investment in the future of a student working to attain his or her dream and build a rewarding life for themself.”

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign kicked off in October and construction is currently in progress on the 10,000 sq. metre expansion and renovation. The new trades training complex is slated to open in Spring of 2016. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit

Quotes from media partners:Hamilton, Hinchliffe, Gabelhouse

“Global Okanagan and Shaw are thrilled to support more opportunities for students in trades,” says Derek Hinchliffe, Station Manager & News Director, Global Okanagan. “We are honoured to participate in this important community initiative and look forward to developing strong ties with Okanagan College.”

Derek Hinchliffe
Station Manager & News Director, Global Okanagan


Hamilton, Hill, McAuliffe, Gabelhouse

"The Capital News & Black Press are proud to partner with Okanagan College on the Bright Horizon's campaign. Trades are a vital part of this community and the communities throughout the province of B.C., this facility will provide opportunities to prepare skilled trades workers for years to come."

Karen Hill
Publisher, Kelowna Capital News


Hamilton, Armstong, Gabelhouse

"This is an exciting time at Okanagan College, and we're thrilled to help share this success story throughout the valley," said Terry Armstrong, publisher of The Daily Courier. "Expanding and renovating the Trades Training Complex into a modern, state-of-the-art facility is strengthening our valley's future. It's giving students access to some of the best facilities around, and we're so very pleased to offer our support."

Terry Armstrong
Vice President & Group Publisher
The Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group
College team captures first in case competition
Okanagan College Media Release

OC HR Team Apr 2015Three Okanagan College business students impressed judges at the TRU Human Resources Management Case Competition last week, taking first place in a high-pressure challenge that put their business knowledge to the test.

Erika Swanson, Brandi Antonucci and Kirsten Schmid won the competition, finishing ahead of competitors from the host school, Thompson Rivers University, as well as teams from BCIT and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. 

The students are all pursuing Bachelor of Business Administration degrees at the College and all specializing in human resources management. 

Swanson came to Okanagan College from Selkirk College; she transferred in after completing two years at home in the Kootenays. She’s set to graduate this spring and will pursue a career in human resources. 

“I was a little bit nervous coming to Okanagan College,” said the 23-year-old. “I wasn’t sure if I would fit in because I started the program part-way through but it is such a good school. I would recommend the College to anyone, the business program is so strong and well respected.”

Though she’s been at Okanagan College for two years, Swanson had never taken part in a business competition outside of the classroom, until her experience at the TRU competition. 

She says the competition really challenged her to work well under pressure, and to apply her knowledge in a very practical way. 

Competitors were each given a case study on a real business situation and were challenged to create a 15-minute power point presentation for a panel of judges. The teams each had one hour to prepare before presenting. 

“We presented last so we didn’t get to see any of the other team’s presentations,” said Swanson. “Maybe that was a good thing, I think it helped us focus on what we were doing.”

After facing a few questions from judges, the team from Okanagan College was declared the winner of the competition. 

“I’m very proud of the team’s result,” said Laura Thurnheer, Chair of Business Administration and co-coach of the College team. “Our students consistently perform well in these kinds of challenges. This marks the second time a team from the College has finished in the top three at this competition. It speaks volumes about the quality of our program and the graduates we produce.”
College, Faculty reach tentative agreement
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Faculty Association, representing approximately 255 professors have reached a tentative local agreement.

The two parties reached the agreement March 28 following an agreement in early February between the Post-Secondary Employers Association and with faculty of several institutions represented by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC (FPSE). Okanagan College, Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Douglas College, North Island College, Northwest Community College and Selkirk College were among those institutions whose faculty were represented by FPSE in the provincial settlement.

The tentative provincial template settlement is for a five-year term beginning April 1, 2014. It includes a 5.5 per cent wage increase over the five years with potential for additional increases if the B.C. economy exceeds the annual forecasts set by the Economic Forecast Council during the last four years of the agreement.

Dates for the College Board of Governors and the Faculty Association to consider the tentative settlement have yet to be determined.
Emil Anderson Construction helps Okanagan College students step into heavy-duty classroom
Okanagan College Media Release

EAC Donation April 2015Prompted by the looming skills gap across the trades sector, a local construction company has thrown its support behind the $33-million project to expand and renovate the trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Emil Anderson Construction has made a $50,000 donation to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign. The company’s donation has enabled the College to build and outfit a new classroom in the heavy mechanical trades shop, which integrates new technology and equipment into the learning space.

“We know there is a coming shortage of tradespeople, and we’re very proud to support the College’s efforts to train new apprentices so we can stay out in front of that skills gap,” says Mike Jacobs, President & CEO of Emil Anderson Construction.

“As a company, we need heavy-duty mechanics and other tradespeople, so we are sensitive to the need to encourage young people to enter the trades. Without them, how are we as a society going to build roads, bridges, buildings—all our key infrastructure?”

“The new trades training complex will provide our students with learning environments that are truly modern,” says Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President of Education. “We are very grateful to Emil Anderson Construction, and to all our donors, for investing in our students’ educational experiences. It sends a powerful message to our students that local industry is behind them.”

When completed in spring of 2016, the new three-storey complex along KLO Road will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada, accommodating over 2,400 students per year. In addition to the new building, the College is currently renovating existing shops and classrooms, rejuvenating decades-old facilities to meet the complex’s overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum and Living Building Standards.

Upgrades to the heavy mechanical trades shop were completed in summer 2013, including the construction of a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space, which is covered by a canopy housing one of the province’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels. The new heavy-duty classroom features built-in heavy-duty equipment and technology, offering a blend of shop and classroom learning.

Emil Anderson Construction is a fourth generation family construction business based in Kelowna that specializes in highway construction, paving, design build projects, site development, land development and housing. 

Jacobs notes that for many years he has witnessed students being steered away from trades training in favour of other post-secondary education, a trend which he sees as problematic given the provincial and federal government’s projections for a major skills gap in trades and technically trained workers over the next decade.

“We have supported many local projects and organizations—from the Mission Creek Greenway to the YMCA,” explains Jacobs. “And this project is another vital one for our community. We absolutely need to get young people into trades. The opportunities are huge for them right now with a wave of retirements coming among experienced tradespeople.”

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. To date, over $3.6 million has been raised. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit
Artwork submissions deadline for Earth Matters art competition extended
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Earth Matters event, an environmental art competition and symposium, has been rescheduled to the fall.

New and experienced Okanagan artists can submit their artwork by October 20, 2015. A symposium and award event recognizing the winning art pieces will follow in mid-November. 

The artistic event aims to highlight the correlation between intellect and creative expression in the natural and social sciences. 

Artists can participate in two categories: secondary school students in Grades 10 to 12 and a second category for any adults age 18 and older. The art entries must reflect on one of the four themes—biodiversity, water resources, waste, climate change – which will be the focus of the academic symposium.

Prizes for the winner in each category include a $500 tuition bursary for the secondary school division, and the adult open category winners will receive a one-day workshop with internationally acclaimed nature artist Terry Isaac at his studio in Penticton.

Details about the symposium, and winning entries will be made available in the fall. For more information about the Earth Matters competition, including artwork submission guidelines, please visit