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What do you do with your leftover fruit waste?
For a group of Okanagan College business students, repurposing apples that otherwise would have gone to waste into healthy snacks for kids was the logical solution – and the resulting project, FruitSnaps, recently earned them top project at Enactus Canada Western Regionals.
Hosted in Calgary in late February, the event drew college and university student teams from as far away as Vancouver to Brandon, Manitoba.
The College fielded teams in four categories, with FruitSnaps taking top spot in the Scotiabank Climate Change Challenge.
Teams from OC also finished as runners-up in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment and TD Entrepreneurship Challenges.
Started in the fall of 2018, FruitSnaps is a Vernon- and Penticton-based project, which sees Enactus OC students partnering with the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners Society facility, where unused apples from local orchards are dehydrated into snacks for local schools.
Project manager and second-year student at OC’s Vernon campus, Karsten Ensz, notes, “kids absolutely love FruitSnaps and some schools have been going through more than 50 pounds every two weeks. The goal right now is to get FruitSnaps into more schools and finding ways to make the project self-sustainable.”
Enactus Regionals served as the perfect platform for Ensz and his team, Abigail Underwood, Sheryl MacIntosh and Marin Carruthers, to showcase their work to date and efforts to expand the project.
“We focused on how scalable FruitSnaps is and the impact it has on our community,” he adds. “A lot of people don’t realize that food insecurity is occurring in our community and that a lot of kids go to school without a breakfast.”
The competition format is simple, but nerve-wracking: teams have five minutes to test their technology, two minutes to set up and five minutes to present on where their projects have been, and where they are headed. Following that, the teams are grilled by a panel of judges.
Okanagan College School of Business professor Andrew Klingel serves as the FruitSnaps team coach, overseeing the project and offering guidance and support.
“Despite the demands of work, school and life, this team still finds the time to contribute to their community. In less than two years the project has grown from an idea to being available now to more than 4,000 kids in our community.”
Students Emily Pilon, Issac Hossmann, Rachel Wehrmann and Maya Samaddar came in second place in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge with their project GreenScreen. Run in partnership with Kelowna Cell Repair and Evangel Church, GreenScreen is a technology drive, offering local residents a chance to recycle or repair their tech. In the first year alone, the initiative kept over 150 pieces of technology out of the land fill. The team is coached by College professors Mark Ziebarth and Laura Hetherington.
Pilon, a third-year marketing student in the College’s BBA program, says of the competition: “it’s a fabulous experience to develop teamwork, presentation and critical thinking skills. After being a part of multiple Enactus competitions, I could not be more thankful for what I’ve gained in skills, leadership opportunities and friendships.”
Despite not advancing to Nationals, the GreenScreen team dubs their time in Calgary a win: “for a project in its first year, we are incredibly proud of our results,” adds Pilon.
The Accelerate Youth project, involving students Zack Plaxton, Nicole Sapieha, Zach Paton and Stephen Kucher, also finished as runner-up in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge. Coached by College instructor Dean Warner, the project helps at-risk youth learn valuable life lessons, from budgeting and financial literacy to goal setting.
Danielle Walker, Deziree Day, Christian Santos and Mitchell Kucher, coached by professor Devin Rubadeau, gave an enthusiastic presentation on the CanSave program but did not make the podium.
Reflecting on the competition, Rubadeau says, “the Enactus students continue to develop meaningful projects that benefit our community in significant ways. On these teams, students learn how to lead towards a common goal with outcomes that greatly exceed their own expectations.”
Dean of the School of Business, Bill Gillett, adds that, “we are proud of our students who are taking the initiative to make a positive change in their communities. It takes long hours and a lot of hard work to see these projects up and running.”
On FruitSnaps championship win: “It’s meaningful to see a project take off and make an impact in such an immediate way. The benefit of Enactus is that it affords students the chance to implement their learning in the real-world arena, hone skills and develop connections. In the case of FruitSnaps, it’s students finding a solution to a very real issue in our region.”
Looking ahead, Enactus Nationals are next for Ensz’ team, taking place on May 19 – 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto. The three-day event draws teams from every corner of the country, and the winners of each categorized competition can go on to represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup. This year it is in Utrecht, Netherlands in September.
Okanagan College Enactus teams took first place in the CWB Financial Education Challenge at the 2019 National Competition, and placed second in the Scotiabank Environmental Challenge. For now, teams across the country will continue to perfect their presentations, changing elements where necessary to bring their best possible pitches.
“Going to the national competition is a great opportunity to see what the best schools in the country are working on. Our team has a lot of work to do between now and then, and not only do we need to keep expanding the project but also figure out how to showcase FruitSnaps in the best way possible,” says Ensz.
Learn more about Enactus OC here.