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Records 1 to 4 of 16
OC graduate uncorks wine industry career

For Linsay Ogden, 2018 has proven to be a very good year indeed. She crossed the stage at Okanagan College’s Summer Commencement ceremony on Wednesday and recently stepped into a rewarding new career in the Okanagan’s booming wine industry.summer convo 2018 media release

After working in the hospitality industry for several years, Ogden decided to switch sectors. She set her sights on an administrative role and enrolled in the Introduction to Office Administration Certificate program offered at the College to gain the education she needed.

“It was so easy to learn here,” says Ogden. “The were phenomenal – they even encouraged me to think critically about what I wanted for my long-term career plans.”

While in the program, Ogden decided to apply her newly acquired skills in the wine industry.

“The hospitality industry definitely has some crossover with the wine industry and I’ve always been intrigued by that world,” explains Ogden. “I immediately started looking for ways to use my skills at a local winery and searching for job openings – it wasn’t long before I got one.”

Shortly before graduation, Ogden was hired as estate coordinator for Black Hills Estate Winery.

Ogden is one of about 140 students from an array of Continuing Studies programs who were recognized at Summer Commencement on Wednesday at the Kelowna campus. About 165 more will earn credentials at Summer Convocation taking place tonight at 6 p.m. in the courtyard at the Kelowna campus – the ceremony marks the last of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year.

“This year Okanagan College will send more than 2,000 graduates out into the world,” notes the College’s President Jim Hamilton. “Among those graduates are our future home builders, educators, health care professionals, entrepreneurs and many, many other vocations – too many to name – that all will be critical to strengthening our economy and enhancing our communities in the region and far beyond. I commend each of our graduates on their achievements.”

Okanagan College Foundation welcomes new board members

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

The new directors joining the Foundation board are:

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

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

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

• Christine Petkau, former Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland (South Okanagan)

• Brea Retzlaff, Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (Central Okanagan)

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

“Our new directors join us at an exciting time and will have the opportunity to make a big impact for students. We have a growing student population that continues to need financial aid and we’re embarking on future development that will continue to transform our campuses.”

“The calibre of our new directors reflects the importance of the work carried out by the Foundation,” says Sharron Simpson, Board Chair, Okanagan College Foundation.

“Education is transformative to individuals and our communities, and we’re excited to continue ensuring education is accessible and our infrastructure reflects the quality of the education Okanagan College provides.”

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

Full biographies of the new board members are below:

Paulo Araujo, Valley First Vice President, Retail and Business Banking 

During the last 18 years, Araujo has worked in various roles within the organization, including Director of Retail Banking, Regional Manager South Okanagan Region, Senior Manager of Retail Credit and Branch Manager. In addition to his current role as VP of Retail and Business Banking, Araujo also runs his family’s orchard in the South Okanagan. He is Lean Green Belt Certified and has taken leadership courses through The Banff Centre.

Dedicated to community leadership, Araujo is active in Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley and an avid supporter of the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association.

Sheri Hamilton, Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) Associate Vice President, Human Resources

Sheri Hamilton is the Associate Vice President Human Resources at SASCU where she oversees a range of areas including talent management, performance management, organizational effectiveness, total rewards and employee relations. Hamilton manages the team responsible for SASCU’s award winning culture and strong employee engagement.

During her time at SASCU, the credit union has placed on the Progressive Employers of Canada List, B.C. Business Magazine’s Best Companies to Work for in B.C., and a WorkLife B.C. Award of Merit.

Dr. Gerry Karr

Karr’s professional education includes a PhD in Pharmacology, MD and FRCPC (Internal Medicine). After 8 years with the Faculty of Medicine at the U of Calgary, Karr recognized his overriding passion for clinical medicine, moving to his present home in Penticton where he practised internal medicine and nephrology until 2003. During this time he established the first renal program in the Okanagan Valley and, along with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, the program pioneered the development of evidence-based chronic kidney disease clinics in B.C. In 2003, he championed the innovative Integrated Health Center in Penticton, which merged the programs for diabetes, CKD and CHF care in the Okanagan Similkameen region. Karr accepted a role as Medical Director of Kidney Services with Interior Health from 2006 until his retirement in March 2012.

In retirement Karr has pursued his interest in primary prevention and health promotion prompted by many years of first-hand experience treating patients with lifestyle-related chronic disease. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair and of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition.

Christine Petkau

Christine Petkau is from Manitoba and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. 

Together with her husband and children, Petkau moved to Summerland in 2002. She has worked in the public sector, both in Manitoba and B.C., in the design and delivery of programs focused on entrepreneurship and employment as well as back to work strategies for job seekers. In the private sector she has owned two small businesses with partners and worked as a North American product manager for several companies.

For the past 6 years she was Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland.

Brea Retzlaff, Accelerate Okanagan Director of Operations

Brea Retzlaff is the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan. She has been supporting the growth of the Okanagan tech community for over five years. She spends her days overseeing day-to-day operations, managing the team, and ensuring strategic goals are being met.

Retzlaff graduated from Okanagan College with a degree in Business, but it was her hands-on experience managing a summer camp that gave her a taste for the startup life. Retzlaff also spent time working with Disney’s Club Penguin, where she was responsible for curriculum development, customer service training and policy documentation.

About the Okanagan College Foundation

Okanagan College Foundation has a mission to advance the power of education by engaging individuals and communities in contributing to Okanagan College. The foundation raises and manages private resources for the development and expansion of educational programs, services, capital projects, and student financial aid through scholarships, bursaries, and grants. To learn more visit


Paulo Araujo

sheri hamilton
Sheri Hamilton


Christine Petkau

brea retzlaff 250px

Brea Retzlaff

Education is prescription for grad’s career fulfilment
Okanagan College Media Release

Lonie Reimer knew she wanted to be a Health Care Assistant at a young age, a long-time dream that will become reality tomorrow when she crosses the stage and receives her credentials at Okanagan College’s Vernon ceremony.Lonie Reimer June 2018

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

“When I was younger, my grandparents went into an assisted living facility for extra care,” explains Reimer. “We lived in different provinces at the time and I remember feeling heartbroken that I couldn’t be there to help them and that it was a complete stranger that gave them the care they needed. It sparked a little fire inside of me and I knew I wanted to be able to do the same for someone else’s grandparents one day.”

Reimer’s passion to become a Health Care Assistant (HCA) brought her to the College’s Vernon campus where she found more than just an education.

“HCA’s are inherent people-persons and my entire class of 27 began to form these amazing relationships and this wonderful community where we all helped each other learn, get through the really tough parts of the program, share each other’s successes, and really grow together,” says Reimer. “I’m leaving the College with an education, a job in hand and an amazing community of friends, colleagues and instructors.”

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

“Being an HCA can be intimidating because you’re working with real people who need real care,” explains Reimer. “I’m so thankful I got to do a practicum as part of the program. The hands-on experience is amazing. It reminded me how much I had learned in class and showed me I was able to apply it – experiencing those success moments reminds you of why you’re doing this and makes you want to work even harder.”

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

Also addressing graduates will be the College’s President, Jim Hamilton

“Our Vernon Convocation ceremony is a chance to recognize students attending Okanagan College from Vernon all the way to Salmon Arm and Revelstoke,” explains Hamilton. “But even more notable than the number of communities they hail from is the diversity of backgrounds and programs represented. From business to health care to the technologies and the skilled trades, these graduates will be among those ensuring the future prosperity of our region and far beyond. On behalf of Okanagan College, I commend each of our graduates on their accomplishments.”

Two more ceremonies will be held on Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28 at the Kelowna campus. By the end of June, more than 2000 students will have graduated from Okanagan College.

All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at


OC researcher’s new works put outdoor play in Canadian context
Okanagan College Media Release

Two new textbooks are furthering an Okanagan College researcher’s efforts to inspire Canada’s early childhood educators to embrace the benefits of outdoor play for Canadian children.Beverlie Dietze June 2018

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

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

“The outdoor play movement is building momentum in Canada,” says Dietze, who is Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College and a recognized expert in outdoor play curriculum for children. “In order for that momentum to continue, we need to offer more educators new knowledge, examples and practices that make outdoor play principles accessible and place them in a Canadian context.”

For Dietze, that meant ensuring educators flipping through the book would immediately get a sense of place. The book includes examples and insights – as well as some of her own photography – from outdoor play workshops she has hosted at parks and nature areas around the Okanagan.

The local content and context is fitting as the book was released as part of Pearson’s Canadian Early Childhood Education Collection.

“The collection is written by Canadians for Canadians,” explains Dietze.

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

It’s not the only work by Dietze and Kashin in the collection.

This spring the duo also released a second edition of their popular
Playing & Learning In Early Childhood Education textbook (the first edition has been adopted by institutions and educators across Canada since it was published by Pearson in 2011).

The new edition reinforces how play prepares children to develop critical thinking, problem solving, their desire to be curious, and creative expression that facilitates a host of developmental and social benefits.

Since becoming Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College, Dietze has garnered more than $350,000 for outdoor play related research projects, including a $91,000 research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and neighbourhood developer New Monaco which seeks to develop a one-of-a-kind outdoor play space in the Peachland neighbourhood.

In 2016, Dietze led an Okanagan College project that received $195,000 in support from the Lawson Foundation. Under her leadership, the project brought together a number of other post-secondary institutions and experts to collaboratively develop a specialized training model for ECEs about children’s outdoor play that has been delivered in person or online to more than 1500 educators across Canada.


Young OC alumni honoured for community impact
Okanagan College Media Release

Two young Okanagan College alumni are being recognized for their contributions to the local tech and business sector.

Brea Retzlaff and Drew Vincent have earned top honours from the College for their outstanding contributions within the community.

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

Brea Retzlaff June 2018Retzlaff completed her Business Administration degree from the College in 2013 and got an early start working in the tech-industry immediately after graduation. Now the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (AO) – a tech accelerator organization that helps coach and mentor local entrepreneurs – Retzlaff helps lead AO’s strategic direction and contributes a strong voice in the booming Okanagan tech-sector.

“This is such an honour and a surprise to be recognized by the Alumni Association with this award,” she says. “The College is very near and dear to me and this award means a lot – I’m proud to represent OC alumni.”

Retzlaff is known for her extensive community involvement and actively serves on the YMCA Okanagan Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters Board, Okanagan College Foundation Board, is on the Program Advisory Committee for the College’s new Animation program and is an influential member in several other community organizations and events. She also helps mentor the College’s Enactus team, a project she says is close to her heart as she was once part of the team and helped grow a new chapter at the Penticton campus in 2009.

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

“It’s been very important to me in my education and my career to connect with the community and address needs of young professionals in a tangible way,” explains Vincent. “I am very humbled to be recognized as one of this year’s Young Alumni Award recipients. The future of the workplace in the Okanagan is positive and I’m making it my mission to help support and be a resource for the next generation of young professionals.”

Vincent’s dedication to leadership, social change and entrepreneurship while a student led to him being named one of the most influential people at Okanagan College over the past 50 years in 2013. He was also named the 2017 Alumni of the Year for all of Canada for his contributions to the Enactus organization, both within the College and helping to start and grow the program at UBCO. To this day, he continues to mentor and coach current business students.Drew Vincent June 2018

Upon graduation, Vincent began working with Okanagan start-up companies doing strategic planning, marketing strategies and project management. He now works with local companies assisting with their operations as well as with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission running the Okanagan Young Professionals program, aiding the regions efforts to attract and retain skilled young professionals.

Vincent sits on the local immigration partnership council, aiding the region in its efforts to create a sense of belonging within the community. He is also on the board for the Okanagan Makers society, helping to launch a makers space to the region. His role as event director for Motionball Kelowna helps raise funds and awareness for developmental disabilities, last year raising $108,000 for Special Olympics Canada.

He is also heavily involved with the Kelowna Jaycees (Junior Chamber International) and was instrumental in moving the organization to co-ed membership for the first time in its history.

“Brea’s and Drew’s commitment to the community and the College is remarkable,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, OCAA. “On behalf of my fellow board members, I congratulate both of them on their accomplishments and can honestly say I am excited to see what they do next – our community is a better place because of people like them.”

Retzlaff’s and Vincent’s achievements will be celebrated at the annual OCAA awards ceremony at the College’s Kelowna campus on October 15. For more information on the awards and previous recipients, please visit


OC culinary student finds recipe for success, wins trip to Italy
Okanagan College Media Release

Erin MacDougallOkanagan College Level 2 Apprentice culinary student Erin MacDougall cooked her way to victory and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy at the third annual OC Road to Riccione Cook-off competition today.

The competition saw four OC students design and prepare their own Italian-themed menu. They were tasked with creating a main entrée featuring arctic char and a dessert, all in a little over two hours. Competitors were given the opportunity to see the available ingredients on the common table beforehand but were told to anticipate a surprise ingredient, which turned out to be eggplant, a revelation that came just before they took to their stations in the kitchen.

“I’ve been practicing non-stop for this competition and it’s an amazing feeling to see that my hard-work and training has paid off,” says MacDougall. “I was totally shocked when I found out I’d won.”

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

MacDougall's winning dishWhile cooking and preparing their dishes, competitors were judged on their technical skills, station organization, safety and sanitation by OC Culinary Arts instructors Chef Stuart Klassen and Chef Geoffrey Couper. The final dishes were then judged on presentation, timing, doneness, innovation, textures and portion sizes during a blind tasting by OC’s Chef Jim Armstrong, Sysco’s Chef Brent Durec and former owner and chef of Gray Monk restaurant, Chef Willi Franz.

“We saw some well-thought out and beautifully presented dishes during today’s competition,” says Armstrong. “The competition was very close and we commend each student for their passion, guts, dedication and hard-work. Competitions like these aren’t easy, especially when you’re competing for such a big prize as a free trip to Italy.”

MacDougall will be joined by a winning student from an upcoming competition hosted by the Okanagan Chef’s Association, and OC instructors Chef Jim Armstrong and Chef Mike Barillaro when they travel to Riccione in early October. The trip will see students tour a prosciutto factory, watch culatello and parmesan being made, travel to the city of Modena to learn about traditional balsamic vinegar and to Bologna to experience a one star Michelin restaurant.

“I am so excited to travel to Italy,” says MacDougall. “I’ve never been to Europe and being a young mom with a two-year old, big trips like this aren’t really in the cards for me at this point in time. This is a life-changer for me.”

MacDougall will also have the opportunity to do a bit of cooking while in Riccione. The five chefs will be working together to prepare a traditional Canadian thanksgiving dinner at the renowned award-winning Hotel Belvedere.

Road to Riccione competition

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and invaluable for up-and-coming chefs,” explains Chef Barillaro. “Each student put their heart into their plates and showcased a great level of composure, skill and technique in the kitchen today.”

Also competing in the cook-off were Culinary students Kassi Sherman, Leif Donglin Ye and runner-up Hannah Zheng.

The four students prepared meals in front of a crowd of friends and family and a few faces familiar to the College’s Culinary Arts program including former OC Culinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant and 2016 Culinary Arts alumnus Josh Starrett. Casavant now serves as Director of Operations for RauDZ Creative Concepts Ltd. He oversees the company’s four restaurants including Sunny’s Modern Table where Starrett works and MacDougall is currently completing her co-op term.

“We came to support Erin today,” explains Starrett. “I competed in two of these competitions when I was a student and can tell you first-hand how valuable they were in my skills development. I think the secret to cooking in competitions is to cook happy and to not worry about whether you’re going to win or not, but to find happiness with the plate you put out.”

Longstanding businesses provide major gift to Vernon Trades Centre
Okanagan College Media Release

Two Vernon businesses with deep roots in the community are providing a strong foundation for the next generation of skilled trade workers training at Okanagan College.

R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. and Postill Nixon Earthworks together are donating $25,000 to the new Trades Centre currently under construction at the College’s Vernon campus.Postill donation June 2018

The owners of the second- and fourth-generation family businesses have operated companies in Vernon for nearly 120 years.

Linsey and Jamie Johannson are the owners of R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. and co-own Postill Nixon Earthworks with Braden Nixon. Linsey is the great granddaughter of Russell Eugene Postill, who founded R.E. Postill in 1944.

Braden's father, Paul Nixon, was involved in the development of the law firm now known as Nixon Wenger in 1975.

According to Linsey, giving back to the community has always been valued by her family and their businesses.

“It’s really important to support the community that has been supporting us for 75 years,” says Linsey.

Braden adds that investing in the Vernon Trades Training Centre was something the owners knew they wanted to support.

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

“We’re grateful for this generous gift from two Vernon families and companies whose contributions to the region span decades and industries,” says Michael Tindall, Chair of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign.

“Because of their support, and many others like them, we’re now $60,000 from our campaign goal. The community of Vernon is showing young people that we want to invest in their future while also creating an economic boom for the region by increasing the number of skilled trades people available locally.”

The $6.2 million Trades Centre will have the capacity to train approximately 150 students per year.

The project is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Through this fund, the province of B.C. is investing $2.9 million and the government of Canada has provided $2.7 million toward the new Centre.

The Okanagan College Foundation set a fundraising goal of $1 million. The funds cover the remaining capital costs and will provide program and student bursaries and scholarships that will increase access to training.

More information about the new Trades Training Centre and fundraising campaign is available at


Infusions unveils new Okanagan-inspired menu and summer hours
Okanagan College Media Release

Infusions June 2018Those in search of a new go-to patio to sip Okanagan wines and savour locally-inspired bites will find their table at Infusions Restaurant at the College’s Kelowna campus this summer.

Starting on Friday, June 22, the restaurant will be open Tuesday – Friday, serving up an appetizer-style light menu from 2 – 4 p.m. and dinner starting at 5 p.m. (last seating at 7 p.m.).

The menu was carefully crafted with input from those who will be cooking it – the College’s Culinary Arts students.

“This year marks the first time the restaurant has been open over the summer months, which is very exciting for our students,” explains Culinary Arts instructor Chef Mike Barillaro. “It inspired us and challenged us to get creative in crafting the perfect Okanagan summer menu, one that really showcases all the wonderful local ingredients of the season.”

The new summer hours build on a model that has benefitted the College’s culinary students – and local diners – for years.

“From menu design to prep to cooking, Infusions offers our chefs-in-training first-hand experience in a fast-paced, real-world kitchen. The menu will change slightly over the summer, as students are learning new things as part of the curriculum. They take tremendous pride in ensuring our guests have a great experience,” says Barillaro.

Also just in time for summer and the new menu is a new patio set-up that will enhance the restaurant’s already picturesque view of the College’s courtyard.

“I always like to remind people that we have a bright, summery space here on campus,” adds Barillaro. “It’s a bit of a hidden gem, in Kelowna’s patio scene.”

Another benefit for diners? Infusions is one of the few restaurants in the valley that doesn’t charge corkage fees.

“You can bring in your own B.C. VQA wine and have it opened at your table at no charge,” explains Barillaro. “Of course, the restaurant also has a great selection of local wines, and our fantastic staff is more than happy to help you select and pair the perfect wines with your meal.”

Apart from closures for curriculum purposes from July 30 – Aug. 17 and Sept. 24 – 28., the restaurant will be open and the new summer-hours will be in effect until Sept. 21, when regular lunch and dinner service will resume.

Reservations are recommended. To find the new menu, visit To book a table call 250-862-5455 or


Penticton Child Care Centre named one of Canada’s most sustainable buildings
Okanagan College Media Release

The list of green accolades continues to grow for the Little Learners Child Care Centre at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus – it was recently recognized as one of Canada’s most sustainable new buildings.OC Little Learners Daycare Dec 2017

The child care facility, which opened its doors last September, picked up the Institutional (Small) Award at the 2018 Canadian Green Building Awards, presented by Sustainable Architecture & Building (SAB) Magazine announced in Toronto on June 5.

Okanagan College’s project was one of nine lauded as examples of the most advanced sustainably-designed buildings in Canada for 2018.

The jury, made up of architects and sustainable design experts, had this to say about the child care facility: “As a structure designed to the rigorous Passive House standard, this building is notable for the beauty and simplicity of its environmental systems. The building relies mostly on local materials and very economical passive design strategies.”

The facility is built to meet Passive House principles, a performance-based, voluntary, international construction standard for energy-efficient buildings that developed in Germany in the 1990s.

Designed by Penticton’s Landform Architecture Ltd. and built by Ritchie Custom Homes, the facility has already garnered two other awards since it opened last fall.

Last December, it became the first Passive House certified child care centre in the country. It was also named a Silver Finalist at the 2018 Tommie Awards in the category of Best Environmental Initiative in Construction (Residential or Commercial).

“Okanagan College is committed to being a leader in sustainability and to raising the bar for ourselves with each new facility we build,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are very proud to be recognized among the institutions – and the stunning new and renovated facilities – that made the list.”

The project was made possible by a $500,000 investment by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and support from donors throughout the area. The Okanagan College Foundation embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise $700,000. More information and ways to support is available at

The full list of 2018 Canadian Green Building winners is available at


Alumnus returning to OC as Vice President
Okanagan College Media Release

Curtis Morcom left Okanagan University College with a Business Administration Degree in 2004. He will return this August as Okanagan College’s Vice President, Employee and Corporate Services.Curtis Morcom June 2018

Morcom, a Chartered Professional Accountant, graduated from OUC’s Bachelor of Business Administration with honours the year before OUC transformed to become Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan (2005). The Business Administration program has carried on as one of Okanagan College’s two degree programs. He says the learner-centred educational programming and practical work co-op experience gained while at OUC has left him with an abiding respect for the College, its programs, and deep community partnerships.

“I have watched over the past years and am very impressed by how the College has grown and integrated with the communities it serves. And, of course, I am always proud to tell people I received my BBA from OUC.”

“Curtis’ experience in the public and private sectors, as well as a demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, convinced us he would be a great fit with the College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our search for the position drew applicants from across the country, but it was fortunate that we found the best candidate in Kelowna, and even more remarkable that we can count him as an alumnus.”

Since 2010, Morcom has been Director of Integrated Planning and Chief Budget Officer at UBC Okanagan and also recently served as a member of the UBC Board of Governors. Morcom has more than 20 years of senior management experience across a range of industries including, education, health, professional services, leasing and land development. At 21 years of age, Morcom was the youngest person to be awarded a franchise agreement of a leading national retailer. By the age of 25, Morcom oversaw operations of 26 retail locations throughout Manitoba. Morcom has also obtained a Chartered Director (C.Dir) designation through McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada. Morcom and family have called the Okanagan home for the past 17 years.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the entire team at the College. They have accomplished many remarkable things and have established a great reputation within the region and nationally since I finished my degree. It is an honour to serve in this position and have the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the College.”


OC apprentice builds his way onto the podium at Skills Canada Nationals
Okanagan College Media Release

For his display of skill and precision under pressure, an Okanagan College-trained carpenter was recognized among the best in the country at Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC).

Lukas Pfob June 2018Lukas Pfob, a Level 4 Carpenter apprentice, brought home the Silver medal in the Carpentry competition at SCNC, which took place in Edmonton on June 4-5.

SCNC is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country. This year more than 500 competitors from across Canada made the trip to Edmonton to put their nerve and know-how to the test in more than 40 skilled trade and technology categories.

“The whole experience from start to finish is mind-blowing,” says Pfob, who is employed by Team Construction Management in Kelowna. “It’s very much like the Olympics but for trades. Until you’ve seen it, you really can’t appreciate how hard the competitors work. It challenges you in so many ways.”

It was Pfob’s second chance to seize the challenge at Nationals. Last year, he notched a strong showing but fell short of the podium in Winnipeg. He punched his ticket to Edmonton, and another shot at Nationals, with a gold medal-winning performance at the Provincial competition in Abbotsford back in April.

His nationals test this year? It was no child’s play.

After the fanfare of the opening ceremonies subsided, Pfob and his fellow competitors had just 12 hours over the course of two-days to construct an intricate play house from scratch. And while he says the time constraint was nerve-racking, Pfob also had to overcome the challenge of working almost elbow-to-elbow with the competition.

“Looking up and seeing the best apprentices from the other provinces and territories working a few feet away is tough,” he says, “but I knew from my experience last year – and from all the work I’ve put in with my instructors – that I had to ignore them and stay as focused as I could on the task at hand.”

That focus – and the years of preparation at the College and on the jobsite – paid off.

“When I found out I came in second, I was ecstatic,” says Pfob. “These truly are some of the best carpenters in Canada, so I take a lot of pride in this showing. I’m very grateful to all my instructors and everyone who has helped me along the way.”Pfob, Vanlerberg, Mclaren June 2018

The medal was Pfob’s first at nationals and fifth overall at Skills Canada competitions, including consecutive gold medals at Provincials the past two years.

“We’re immensely proud of Lukas for his achievements at Skills Canada competitions this year – and over the years – and equally so for the fine example he’s setting for his fellow students and apprentices at the College,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

Pfob recently completed his Level 4 apprenticeship at the College. Prior to jetting off to Edmonton, he delivered the student address at the Trades Commencement ceremony at the Kelowna campus last month.

“Every instructor I have had, from high school to 4th year at the College, has pushed me to greater levels of success,” explains Pfob. “I hope one day to be able to do the same. I’d love eventually to have the opportunity to teach, to inspire others to push themselves to always keep learning, to take pride in their field and generally just strive to be the best they can be.”

Pfob was joined by two other Okanagan College students at Nationals. Vernon’s Bradley Vanlerberg competed in the Aerospace Technology category and Kelowna’s Conner McLaren competed in the Automotive Service category. All three students won gold at the provincial Skills Canada competition on April 18.


Car Dealers Rev Up Support for OC Automotive and Business Students
Okanagan College Media Release

New Car Dealers_1 June 2018The New Car Dealers Foundation of British Columbia is helping power success with $10,000 annually in new awards for Trades and Business students at Okanagan College.

The annual awards ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 each will support students in the Automotive Service Technician apprenticeship and foundation programs, plus the Business Administration program.

“The demand for skilled automotive service technicians and business professionals is increasing throughout the automotive sector,” says Blair Qualey,
President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C.

“We see partnerships with training institutions like Okanagan College as integral to service delivery and the prosperity of our member dealerships.”

There are 29 new car dealer members in the Okanagan including six dealerships operated by Sentes Automotive.

Adam Rich, Sentes Automotive Group General Manager, says he hopes the awards will encourage more young people to enter the automotive industry and stay local after graduation.

“We’re always looking for more technicians. We know the value of the Okanagan College program, we’ve hired grads in the past, and we’re thrilled to support it,” says Rich.

“We are very grateful to the New Car Dealers Foundation for this investment in our students’ futures,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation. “The creation of these new awards will both help attract and retain students, ultimately connecting them to a vibrant and expanding industry, especially in the Okanagan.”

“These awards are unique in that they will open doors for trades students while also supporting the next generation of business professionals pursuing careers in the automotive sector.”

The New Car Dealers Foundation presented its first set of awards in Kelowna in April.

Among the recipients was Paul Whitlock, a student in the Automotive Service Technician program. Whitlock plans to complete his Red Seal Endorsement and then go on to business school.

“This award will make it easier for me to progress through my apprenticeship with less stress about being able to afford it all,” says Whitlock. “I can't thank the donors enough for this very generous gift. It will help me achieve my dream.”

The New Car Dealers Association of B.C. represents more than 390 New Car Dealers throughout the province, who generate more than $16 billion in economic activity, pump $2.9 billion net GDP directly into B.C.’s economy, and employ more than 30,000 high paying jobs in 54 communities they serve.

For more information on the new training hub visit


Enactus OC project transforms elementary students into authors in the South Okanagan

A class of Grade 4 students at Queen’s Park Elementary in Penticton are some of the region’s newest published authors thanks to a new initiative by Okanagan College’s Enactus team.enactus pen news

Carrie-Ann McAlpine and Christie Reid, both business students at the Penticton campus, recently spent three days in the classroom working with students to write and illustrate their own stories.

“We wanted to develop a fun, hands-on way for the students to think about reading and writing – and something that ultimately could help teachers make literacy more exciting and tangible,” says McAlpine. “Our aim was to transport them into the mindset of an author.”

The theme, fittingly, was transportation. Over the course of three days, students learned about transportation – past and present – and were tasked with working in groups to envision and write about future modes of transport.

And while the College students may have been used to group work, they quickly found out it was a new experience for their elementary school subjects.

“For many of the students, it was their first group project ever, or the first of this scale where they worked together over a few days,” explains McAlpine. “So it turned out to be a great learning experience on the literacy side of things, and it also challenged them to work together, listen to each other, and make decisions as a group.”

Before stepping into the classroom, McAlpine and Reid found a way to make the students feel more like the real-world authors they know and look up to.

“We approached the Kiwanis Club of Penticton which agreed to cover the cost of professionally printing the students’ stories,” explains McApline. “When we brought in the published works, the students eyes lit up. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of, as a student or otherwise.”

Like the students they mentored, McAlpine and Reid have now turned their attention to imaging what the future could look like. They hope to grow the project and be able to replicate the writing and publishing experience for students in more classrooms and schools. They’re also looking into how the students’ published works could be sold to provide schools and community organizations such as Kiwanis with a new fundraising tool.

“This project really embodies what Enactus Okanagan College is all about,” notes Dr. Sheilagh Seaton, a professor with the College’s School of Business and a faculty advisor for Enactus OC.

“Carrie-Ann and Christie took a simple idea and found a way to bring it to life in the community to benefit others and foster new collaborations and opportunities. It’s been wonderful to watch how quickly they realized their vision and the positive impact it has had on students in the pilot project.”


Summertime activities and learning opportunities still available for Kelowna kids
Okanagan College Media Release

CampOC 2018From Minecraft to cooking camps to flight academy, Okanagan College’s Camp OC is back in July with a broad selection of educational day camps designed to keep kids busy while after camp care offers flexibility for parents at the end of the day.

Camp OC, coordinated by the College’s Continuing Studies department, offers week-long educational day camps full of interactive experiences, fun and adventure for youth.

Back for its 14th year in Kelowna, camps will once again be offered for students in Grades 2-12. Parents can choose from a range of camps including Minecraft programming, wood and metal fabrication camps, LEGO building, fashion and cooking camps, website design and flight academy camps, among others.

The sessions are a hit with Mia Salmon and her children, who have attended multiple camps. “The courses are packed full of fun things to do. Parents can be confident that their kids will come away with new friends, useful ideas and skills,” says Salmon.

After a successful launch last year, camp organizers are once again offering optional after camp care for students who will be entering Grades 2-6 this fall. With camps running 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, parents once again have the option of enrolling their child in weeklong after camp care where qualified staff will engage them in activities until 5 p.m. The cost ranges from $24-30 for the week.

Camp OC is also a chance for high school students to boost their resumes and chalk up volunteer hours required for graduation. And with more than 100 scheduled camps in Kelowna alone this year, youth volunteers are still needed to fill some key summer camp roles.

“Volunteering at Camp OC gives high schoolers some of the required credits they need toward graduation,” explains Helena Jordo, Camp OC Coordinator for Kelowna. “We track and report back all volunteer hours to the school districts and it’s a great way for students thinking about attending the College to spend time on campus and learn their way around.”

Last year more than 1,700 students took part in more than 140 different camps as part of Camp OC across the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Revelstoke. The program has seen incredible growth since it launched in the summer of 2004, then with only 70 kids enrolled in about 10 camps.

More information about Camp OC is available at


College’s Vernon Trades Centre gets a boost from Kalamalka Rotary

Kalamalka Rotary has stepped forward with a major gift to support amenities for students in the new Trades Centre under construction at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus.Kalamalka Rotary ver 1

“Kalamalka Rotary is proud to contribute $25,000 from the club’s Annual Dream Auction to support the College’s new Trades Training Centre,” says Club President Neil Perry. “We’re pleased to be able to support a space that will enhance the facilities available at the College, help to grow a skilled workforce in the North Okanagan and meet the increasing demand for skilled trades workers in the area.”

The club’s support will specifically help the College outfit men’s and women’s locker rooms in the $6.2 million, 13,450 square-foot facility, which is slated to open in August.

The gift also marks a significant milestone in the fundraising campaign for the project.

“Kalamalka Rotary’s support brings us over the $915,000 mark and within $85,000 dollars of our goal,” notes Michael Tindall, Chair of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. “We’re deeply grateful for all the support we’ve received – it’s come from individuals, it’s come from families, businesses large and small, and with just a couple months left to go before students step into the building, we’re confident the good people of Vernon will help us meet our goal.”

The new building will provide space for approximately 150 students per year to train in more than a half-dozen programs, including Carpentry, Electrical and Welding. It will help the College deliver specialized offerings like Aboriginal Trades Training and Women in Trades Training, as well as contract training to meet the needs of employers in the region.

“Skilled tradespeople play a significant role in the economic prosperity of the North Okanagan, as they do in many communities throughout the region we serve,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our new Trades Training Centre in Vernon is going to give our students a bright, modern and truly state-of-the-art facility that will match the quality of instruction they have always received at the College. And in so doing, it will help ensure we can continue to train the skilled workers needed to address the skills gap looming or already being felt in many areas across the province and the country.”

“We’re thankful to Kalamalka Rotary and all the donors who are investing in Okanagan College and in our students’ futures for years to come.”

The total cost for the new Trades Centre is $6.2 million. The project is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Through this fund, the province of B.C. is investing $2.9 million and the government of Canada has provided $2.7 million. The Okanagan College Foundation is fundraising for the remainder of the capital cost and to provide program and student support to increase access to training.

More information about the new Trades Training Centre and fundraising campaign is available at


Graduation inspires College student to think locally and globally
Okanagan College Media Release

Jennifer Meyer had long envisioned a career in International Development before an opportunity to make an impact locally sparked a change in plans. When she crosses the stage at Spring Convocation on Saturday, she’ll do so with a new perspective and big plans for how she can put her skills to work to benefit others in the Okanagan.Jennifer Meyer June 2018

Meyer is one of nearly 500 students who will graduate during two ceremonies Okanagan College is hosting on Saturday at the Kelowna campus.

The morning ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science and Health and Social Development programs receive their credentials. Patrick Waunch, CEO and President of Rambow Mechanical Ltd. will be recognized as an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College – the highest honour bestowed by the College.

At the afternoon ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m., the College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands from the Okanagan School of Business. Retired MLA Rick Thorpe will also be named Honorary Fellow and will address the graduands.

“I’ve always been a ‘yes’ person,” explains Meyer, who will receive her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree in the afternoon ceremony. “I think it’s exhilarating to try new things and uncover new passions along the way and it’s because of this that I’ve got this really neat mixture of skills, experience, training and education that are preparing me for a really exciting future.”

Born and raised in Kelowna, Meyer began at the College in 2013 where she enrolled in the Associate of Arts degree program with intentions of completing the two-year program and transferring to a university to pursue a degree in International Development. Her plans changed when she decided to say yes to the opportunity to enrol in the College’s BBA program in accounting – an opportunity which also saw her move to France for half a year to study abroad.

The time away found her thinking about how she could apply her blossoming business skills to good use when she returned to Kelowna.

“This is my hometown and I’m really passionate about making an impact here,” says Meyer. “My time in the School of Business gave me a chance to gain a more global perspective but it also inspired me to look more closely and how I can drive change right here at home.”

Meyer’s first chance to apply her education came long before graduation. After being elected to the Okanagan College Student’s Union (OCSU), she worked with other students to come up with new ways of organizing the budget, lobbying for more student benefits, presenting to College boards and more.

“I’m an accounting student, so numbers are definitely my thing and I do have a tendency to think about that bottom line and how to make numbers work for you,” says Meyer. “But I also have this whole other side to me and I feel very motivated to do something bigger for my city.”

Meyer envisions a future in municipal or federal government but for now is focusing on graduation, starting a rewarding career at KPMG and working towards her Chartered Professional Accounting designation.

She’s also not the only Meyer who will be crossing the stage on Saturday.

“My brother Christian will be graduating with his Associate of Science degree in the morning ceremony,” explains Meyer. “My whole family is coming to watch both of us graduate.”

The ceremonies this weekend are two of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year.

“I want to congratulate all graduates and recognize them for their hard work, dedication and achievements both inside and outside of the classroom at Okanagan College,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The future of the Okanagan looks incredibly bright and whether students stay in the region or move away, I am confident they will help transform themselves, people around them and the communities they live in.”

A ceremony in Vernon will be held on Tuesday, June 26. At that ceremony, the College will confer the title of Honorary Fellow upon Vernon’s Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono who will also address graduates. The final summer convocation ceremonies in Kelowna will follow on Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28 and will confer approximately 380 diplomas and certificates.

More than 2000 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2018 by the end of June.

All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at