Previous Posts(10)
College Enactus students win big at Nationals
New OC program lives at the intersection of marketing and big data
OC student trades her digital skills for an apprenticeship
Training for tourism jobs to meet local demand
Business graduate sets up award to celebrate perseverance
College names Christensen, Louie and Galbraith as 2019 Honorary Fellows
Women in Trades students help house winged wildlife
College employee receives national recognition at CICan awards
Summertime learning opportunities for youth at Okanagan College
Making the most of the water park: research aids a Kelowna firm making waves globally
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College Enactus students win big at Nationals
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College Enactus students won big at the 2019 Canadian Enactus National Championships competition, taking home both a gold and bronze medal for creating real-world solutions to problems that face many Canadian communities, financial literacy and environmental waste.

OC Enactus students competed in the national championships, held from May 7 to 9 in Vancouver. Over the course of the three-day event, students showcased how their community outreach projects and business ventures are enabling progress through entrepreneurial action.

Enactus OC FinLit May2019A team of four OC students won a first-place finish in the Canadian Western Bank Financial Education category. Their project, CANsave, inspires kindergarten and elementary-level students to learn about budgeting, saving and distinguishing good debt from bad debt.

The CANsave project was presented by Okanagan College School of Business students Mitchell Folk, Iris Pham, Carmen Larder and Zachary Plaxton.

“It was an incredible send-off to my degree to have a first-place nationals finish,” says Folk. “Enactus offers such a unique experience. You get to put your business skills to use while contributing to a team and the community. It’s a great opportunity to build relationships and network. I encourage any student to take part if they have the chance.”

OC Enactus students also earned a third-place finish in the Environmental category for the FruitSnaps project, which repurposes fruit that was destined for the landfill into delicious and healthy snacks. FruitSnaps was also awarded the Hellmann’s Real Food Rescue Best New Project award. The presenting students were OC’s Jessica Egyed, Karsten Ensz, Relan Johanson and Sean Rossouw.

Egyed was recognized for her outstanding leadership and received one of the 10 coveted founder’s bursaries worth $2,500.

OC’s Abby Lagerquist also received top recognition and took home the top Project Leader of the Year award for her work on the FruitSnaps project.

“The students’ success on the national stage is a result of the hundreds of hours poured into a project that is having a direct impact on the lives of young Canadians,” says Devin.Enactus OC May 2019

Rubadeau, OC Enactus coach and Okanagan School of Business professor. “The students should take pride in knowing that their entrepreneurial solutions to real-world issues are being viewed favourably by Canada’s top business leaders.”

Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business, speaks to the value of the hands-on learning students receive from Enactus.

“Unlike academic case competitions, the Enactus awards are based upon the significant contributions to improving the lives of members of our local communities and in communities across Canada,” says Gillett. “The OC team has not only earned awards for the implementation of their innovative projects, but also made a real difference in the lives of literally thousands of Canadians. The recognition of the CANSave and FruitSnaps projects, in particular, and all of the projects by the Enactus team at Okanagan College is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students and their mentors.”

For more information about Okanagan College’s Enactus program, visit


New OC program lives at the intersection of marketing and big data
Okanagan College Media Release

Your supermarket does it. Amazon thrives on it. The websites you visit are doing it all the time.

They’re blending marketing and data analytics and using the results to tailor their special offers, the websites you see and their recommendations for your next purchase.

Okanagan College will be offering a new program this fall that speaks to the growing role of marketing and big data in our lives, and the increasing demand for people whose skills and education position them at the intersection of the two areas. The Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Marketing and Data Analytics will combine courses from mathematics, statistics, business and data science to provide students (who already have Bachelor degrees in business or science) with the knowledge to carve a career in the growing field.

“It’s difficult to think of an area of our lives that hasn’t been affected by the growth in data being collected and the marketing it drives,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “While some people are rightfully concerned about the privacy implications of all that data, it’s an undeniable reality that the data begs for analysis and application. Companies, organizations, and governments all recognize the value of the insights that are possible. This program is an example of our institution again responding to employer needs and career opportunities for students.”

The program, which was developed by the Math & Statistics department at Okanagan College, with support from the Business department, was approved by the Board of Governors in late April.

“We know that there’s a growing appetite for the people who can mine all the data that is collected these days, and translate it into applicable marketing tactics and strategies,” explains Yvonne Moritz, the College’s Dean of Science, Technology and Health. “There are employers throughout the Okanagan who are looking for the skill set that this program can provide students.”

“Forestry manufacturing companies, like Tolko Industries, rely on big data and analysts to provide proactive business information and financial and operational analyses in achieving the optimal investment return for Tolko,” confirms Pino Pucci, Tolko Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Logistics. “Our business analysts use data to evaluate product placement, channel strategies, benchmarking (customer and competitor), and logistic and strategic capital investment analyses. The demand for this expertise within the industry is increasing and we’re fortunate to have our local college offer this program.” 

When they graduate from the four-semester program, students will be able to:

  • Apply mathematical, statistical and machine-learning techniques to support organizational decisions, and point to new data-driven opportunities
  • Manage and manipulate data and create data visualizations
  • Understand digital marketing and the business application of marketing analytics
  • Perform primary and secondary marketing research

The development, interpretation and use of data today informs all fields of business and commerce. But as the quantity of data has grown exponentially in recent years, the skill set and knowledge required to take full advantage of that information have changed,” notes Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business. “Our program recognizes that.”

For more information on the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Marketing and Data Analytics, visit

OC student trades her digital skills for an apprenticeship

Okanagan College Media Release

Today marks an important step toward a new career path for close to 90 students in various Okanagan College trades programs, who will cross the stage at the Trades Commencement ceremony at the Kelowna campus.

Jess de GrootFor one Collision Repair and Refinishing Prep Technician student, Jessica de Groot, commencement serves as the start to a second career that blends her passion for creative pursuits with technical capability.

“There has been so much to learn and process,” says de Groot. “I’m excited to complete this program and honour that completion, as well as move forward into the workforce.”

After spending the last six years working at a craft beer brewery in media and graphic design, de Groot decided to take her artistic abilities from the computer screen and apply them in the collision repair shop.

“I felt I had made it as far as I could in my position, and wanted something more for myself,” says de Groot. “I started to research the trades and quickly found that auto refinishing really appealed to my artistic sense.”

Today’s ceremony marks the completion of de Groot’s nine-month program. Her future plans are to move home to Invermere and work towards completing her ticket as a prep and paint apprentice.

“I really enjoyed the painting part of the program,” says de Groot. “The process of taking a car from the completed body repair to looking back to new is very satisfying for me.”

Trades Commencement is one of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year. By the end of June, the College will have sent more than 2,000 graduates into the world this academic year. All ceremonies will be live streamed on the Okanagan College Facebook page at

“Today’s graduating class includes our future welders, chefs, electricians, plumbers, and heavy-duty mechanics, to name just a few,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “These are the people who will construct our communities, advance sustainability and change the way we work, learn and live.”

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province, and the largest in B.C.’s Interior. For more information visit

Training for tourism jobs to meet local demand

Revelstoke CentreFrom skiing and snowmobiling to mountain biking and hiking, Revelstoke is attractive to visitors for many reasons and tourism is important to the community’s economic health. To support this industry and people seeking careers in it, Okanagan College in Revelstoke is launching a new two-year Tourism Management Diploma and is receiving $40,000 in support from Columbia Basin Trust for a virtual classroom.

“This mobile lab is part of a new program that will help address the shortage of trained staff in the tourism industry, a sector that we heard is a priority for Revelstoke,” said Aimee Ambrosone, Columbia Basin Trust Director, Delivery of Benefits. “Kudos to the College for creating an innovative, collaborative learning environment that will provide access to training locally to help meet the workforce needs of local tourism-based businesses while supporting the economic well-being of the community as a whole.”

The funding will go toward setting up a high-tech lab equipped with digital equipment that will enable students to access blended-learning resources like online content and videoconferencing. Instruction will be flexible and up-to-date, will draw from the best resources and instructors, and will better represent today’s technology-based work environment.

The lab will also be mobile, meaning it can be set up at off-campus locations to meet a variety of training needs. Students will be able to learn at different job sites, while employers and community organizations will be able to receive on-site training customized to their needs.

“Launching this full-time program in Revelstoke will answer significant industry demand for managers in the tourism and hospitality industries,” said Joan Ragsdale, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for Shuswap Revelstoke. “Together with a donation from the Revelstoke Credit Union, the Trust’s contribution has made this mobile lab possible.”

Launching in fall 2019, the program will allow students to attend school in the tourism sector’s shoulder seasons and build work experience during the busier winter and summer months. Learn more about Revelstoke centre and the Tourism Management Diploma program.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit or call 1-800-505-8998.



Business graduate sets up award to celebrate perseverance
Okanagan College Media Release

A new student award at Okanagan College will celebrate the perseverance and determination needed to be successful in school.

Suzanne Newton completed her business degree at Okanagan College Penticton campus last year, and is now a College employee working as a Division Assistant in Advancement & Alumni.

Newton says she established the $1,000 annual award to recognize the challenges some people experience when returning to school, especially students who rely on student loans.

Suzanne Newton accepts the Bruce DeHart Award.It’s a challenge Newton knows well. Initially, she tried to work while going to school full time and raising her son. Juggling work, school and family landed her on academic probation. 

Once she realized she could not manage work and her studies she turned to student loans, which didn’t fully cover the costs of attending school.

This spurred Newton to begin applying for student scholarships and bursaries, which were instrumental in helping her achieve her goals. During her four-year degree, she received $15,000 in student awards, a major support that still brings tears to Newton’s eyes when she thinks about complete strangers helping her achieve her dreams.

“I know the crunch of relying on student loans and worrying about money,” says Newton. “When I saw other people were willing to invest in me and my future, I said to myself that one day I would be in a position to do the same for another student.”

The Suzanne Newton Perseverance Inspires Success Award will be available to any student on the Penticton campus. Applicants will be asked, “What have you had to overcome to be here?”

“It’s heartening to see people who’ve benefited from student awards go on to help other students,” says Anne Kirkpatrick, Okanagan College Foundation Interim Executive Director.

“This award recognizes the important role a donor plays in helping students be successful and we’re grateful to Suzanne for paying it forward.”  

Newton has advice for anyone questioning continuing school, which she acknowledges can be particularly difficult for mature students with families.

“Don’t just stop because you’ve hit a roadblock, very few students don’t hit roadblocks. Know that you can get through it and it will get better. I hope this award touches someone and gives them hope.”

College names Christensen, Louie and Galbraith as 2019 Honorary Fellows

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour on three notable Okanagan residents, each of whom has made unique and meaningful contributions through public service, mentorship and philanthropy.

tom christensen honorary fellowTom Christensen, Robert Louie and George Galbraith will be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College during Convocation ceremonies in Kelowna and Vernon this June.

“The accomplishments of this year’s Honorary Fellows are hard to summarize,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Their contributions have had a lasting impact on so many individuals and communities. It is a great privilege to welcome them to the Okanagan College family.”

Christensen is well-known for his contributions in the province through Aboriginal relations and reconciliation, as well as community volunteerism.

From 2001 to 2009 he was the elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for Okanagan-Vernon and during that time, he served as British Columbia’s Minister of Education, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and Minister of Children and Family Development. As the province’s first Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, he had responsibility for implementing a more collaborative and less adversarial relationship with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in B.C.

Today, Christensen is a Solicitor at Nixon Wenger LLP and remains committed to public service, having served as a Director of the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, a Director and Chair of the Legal Services Society of British Columbia, and Chair of Community Living British Columbia. Locally, he was a Director of the Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society of the North Okanagan and is currently a Director with the Canadian Mental Health Association – Vernon Division as well as a member of the Kalamalka Rotary Club. In 2018, Christensen was selected to be member of the new Okanagan Indian Band Economic Development Corporation.

“I am humbled to be recognized as an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College,” says Christensen. “I am a big fan of our College, the leading work it is doing in the post-secondary education sector in our province, and the services it provides to residents throughout our region.”

Robert Louie Honorary FellowRobert Louie is the former Chief (24 years) of the Westbank First Nation and has served on numerous boards, companies and special appointments with government and private industry for more than 30 years. He has extensive experience in real estate development and finance matters and has focused primarily on working for First Nations on land matters throughout Canada. Louie is the Chairman of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board and Chairman/Director of Peace Hills Trust, the largest Aboriginal financial institution in Canada. He serves as an Indigenous advisor, representing Canada on the World Indigenous Business Forum and networks with other leaders promoting Indigenous economic development and world trade.

Louie’s connection to the College dates back to 1975 when he graduated from the Business Administration program prior to completing a law degree at the University of Victoria, and later when he was presented with the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. Countless awards and distinguished presentations - including his appointment as an Officer to the Order of Canada - have complemented his successful career. Louie also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Justice Institute of B.C.

Today, Louie is the owner/proprietor of Indigenous World Winery, Indigenous World Spirits and Kelowna West Manufactured Home Park.

“I feel honored, blessed, humbled and am beaming with enthusiasm to be recognized as an Honorary Fellow with Okanagan College,” says Louie. “The past recipients are individuals of such high distinction and are deserving of the recognition. To be recognized amongst them is a wonderful and humbling experience.”

“I’m proud to be associated with Okanagan College as a former Business Administration graduate and I hold my hands up high in gratitude and appreciation to a delightful and incredibly impressive educational institution.”

George Galbraith honorary FellowGalbraith, known for his philanthropy and civic spirit, is a business leader and stalwart supporter of many projects close to his heart in the Okanagan, including the Okanagan Rails to Trails Campaign, Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation and North Okanagan Community Foundation. He is also a supporter of the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon Community Music School and The Nature Trust of British Columbia.

Galbraith has worn many hats at Okanagan College – first as an instructor at the Vernon campus in 1973, then on the College’s Board of Directors for six years. In 2017, Galbraith donated $250,000 towards the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons - Building for Skills campaign for the new Trades Training Centre at the Vernon campus. He also funds two scholarships at the College: H.W Galbraith Memorial Award and the Kieran Galbraith Memorial Award. He sees these gifts as an act of gratitude for the benefits he received raising a family and building a livelihood in the Okanagan.

Galbraith built and operated Vercom Cable Services Ltd., Vernon’s cable system, until he sold the company in 1991 to Shaw Cable, where he continued to sit on the Board of Directors for 26 years.

Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow Awards to deserving individuals as part of its annual Convocation ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A full list can be found at

Robert Louie will address graduates at the morning ceremony on Saturday, June 1 in Kelowna. Tom Christensen will speak at the ceremony in Vernon on Tuesday, June 25, and George Galbraith will deliver his address in an evening ceremony on Thursday, June 27.


Women in Trades students help house winged wildlife
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College Women in Trades Training (WITT) students joined forces with Elementary students to help house some of the busiest builders in the community who work around the clock, day and night.

WITT at Peter Greer May 2019Grades 4-6 students at Peter Greer Elementary stepped outside of the classroom for a day to learn about the bats and the bees from WITT students. Together they built four bat houses with nurseries, and one large bee pollinator hotel. The residences will be placed in the green space surrounding Peter Greer, helping meet the ecological needs of creatures in risk of endangerment.

“Our Grade 4-6 students have been spending a lot of time outside focusing on ecological literacy,” says Clint Maltais, a teacher at Peter Greer. “The kids are really passionate about animals and wanted to do something that would actually help the environment. We knew we needed help.”

There are great efforts in the Central Okanagan in supporting bee and bat conservation, and the teachers and students at Peter Greer were eager to get the WITT students involved.

“This is a great opportunity for the WITT students to be mentors, and to apply what they’ve learned so far in the program,” says Nancy Darling. “It’s empowering for these women to share their skills and build confidence that they can take those skills forward into the workplace.”Bat and Bee House

This isn’t the first time that Okanagan College’s Trades and Apprenticeship department has supported the community and mentored youth along the way: they built the bunny hutches at Warren Peace, and they’re currently building locker rooms for the OC Coyotes basketball teams.

“The community has supported our program since inception,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Returning that favor and playing a prominent role in our community is important to us.”

Amanda Gilbank is one of the WITT students who helped.

“The kids were all amazing to work with and eager to learn,” says Gilbank. “It’s great to be able to teach them to build something that is helping the environment and then watching how proud they become when they see what they’ve built.”

There were lots of happy faces and enthusiastic learners, some of whom are already thinking about a future in Trades.

“I really liked having the chance to saw and hammer away at something,” says
Grade 4 student Ryder Atherton. “I want to go to Okanagan College one day…maybe become a mechanic or something.”

WITT offers a Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program that allows women to explore each skilled trade before deciding which is the best fit for them.

For more information visit:


College employee receives national recognition at CICan awards
Okanagan College Media Release

Marilyn Alexis May 2019Okanagan College’s Marilyn Alexis is being honoured by colleagues across Canada for her work helping to build connections between the College, the North Okanagan community and Indigenous people and their culture.

This week Alexis, an Aboriginal Transition Planner at the College’s Vernon campus, was named the gold medal winner for the Leadership Excellence Award for Non-Managerial Staff at the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) 2019 Awards of Excellence in Niagara Falls.

“Marilyn has brought incredible energy and vision to Okanagan College,” says Jane Lister, Regional Dean of Okanagan College Vernon campus. “She has been instrumental in recruiting Indigenous students, she’s dedicated hundreds of hours to create a beautiful indigenous garden on our campus, and she’s been a leader in hosting events in honour of women who have experienced abuse or trauma.”

The CICan Awards of Excellence recognize best practices from institutions across the country, as well as individual leadership and achievements. There are three levels of recognition: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Alexis was grateful to be honoured at the awards.

“Thank you CICan, it is a great honour to accept this award,” says Alexis. “I’m still in complete disbelief…winning this award is my biggest accomplishment.”

Alexis has been an integral part in championing the College’s Indigenous initiatives and has made tremendous efforts to share the indigenous culture and build lasting relationships between OC and the community. One of Alexis’ greatest achievements is leading the creation of the Kalamalka Garden, located at the Vernon Campus. It contains indigenous food plants from the Okanagan territory, as well as other native species indigenous to this area, and it was developed to be a community teaching resource of the region’s indigenous plants used by the Okanagan Indian Band.

“Marilyn has created a warm welcoming place where Indigenous learning can occur in a hands-on interactive environment that is directly connected to the land her ancestors used to live on,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “Her efforts have been truly admirable and we are proud that she has received this honour.”

Okanagan College believes in Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community.
The College values an authentic partnership that benefits all parties and enriches the education of learners.

“I have had many proud moments at Okanagan College,” adds Alexis. “When I see our Grassroots Knowledge Keepers sharing their gift with students, staff and community, that is what I call building authentic relationships and transforming lives.”

For more information on CICan visit


Summertime learning opportunities for youth at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

A growing demand for Okanagan College’s summer camps for youth has prompted the institution to increase capacity and expand offerings to Salmon Arm.

Camp OC, Okanagan College’s summer camp for children and teens, will be offered in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, Revelstoke and now Salmon Arm.CampOC 2019

With the addition of 15 camps and 1,000 new spaces throughout the Okanagan, more than 1,700 youth are already registered to attend Camp OC this summer.

From Robotics and Metal Fabrication to Chef Academy and Astronaut Space Training, parents and kids have a variety of programs in arts, science, trades and technology to choose from to meet a diverse set of interests.

“Summer camps at Camp OC offer opportunities for youth to spend time immersed in topics that are engaging and informative,” explains Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “In the 15 years Camp OC has been running, we’ve seen significant growth in attendance and community interest. In turn, our camps are growing to reflect the topics and needs we see in our community.”

Technology plays an important role in day-to-day life, and an emphasis on technology awareness has been incorporated into many of the camps available this summer.

“The great thing about technology is that it’s applicable to every school subject,” says Sarah Foss, Computer Science Instructor at Okanagan College. “When we code, we’re also learning about creative problem solving. When we make computers respond to our precise requests, we’re learning to think critically and can apply that to other areas. Having the opportunity to explore these ideas through subjects that are exciting to kids can have a broad reaching impact.

“We’ll be looking at the freedom and creativity that programming allows us to bring to projects, as well as the safe and responsible use of technology,” Foss continues. “As with all the camps planned for Camp OC, we want to learn and have a great time doing it.”

Camp OC is also a chance for high school students to boost their resumes and chalk up volunteer hours required for graduation. With more than 100 camps to choose from in Kelowna this year, many opportunities to volunteer in key positions are still available.

“Camp OC really values the volunteers who join us for a week or more in the summer,” says Helena Jordo, Camp OC Coordinator. “It's a great opportunity for youth ages 14 and up to gain experience in a leadership role in the classroom. With professional teachers and educators teaching the camps, this is a great opportunity for mentorship.

“Volunteers also receive hours towards graduation credits. We work very closely with SD23 to offer a good program for their students, and Camp OC would not be able to run as smoothly without the positive impact these volunteers bring.”

After camp care for students who will be entering Grades 1 to 6 this fall will be available at the Kelowna campus. Parents will once again have the option of enroling their child in week-long after camp care where qualified staff will engage them in activities until 5 p.m.

Space is still available in some camps. To find out more or to register, visit


Making the most of the water park: research aids a Kelowna firm making waves globally
Okanagan College Media Release

Children splashing themselves and each other in a water park hardly seems the topic for focused research, but you’re not Beverlie Dietze, Okanagan College’s Director of Learning and Applied Research.

Waterplay 1 May 2019And neither are you the engineers and designers at Waterplay Solutions Corp., the Kelowna-based company with a growing, global clientele.

There’s lots to learn, it turns out, when children set their minds and imaginations to having fun in a waterpark. And where business is concerned, figuring out how to ensure children get the most from their play is good business for a company such as Waterplay Solutions.

“We’re passionate about play,” says Shanley Hutchinson, the Creative Manager at Waterplay Solutions. “Play, by its very nature, as a universal, inclusive language within communities, makes the world more livable and socially just. The products we create do so much more than spray water, they create moments where children explore, imagine, push their boundaries and test their theories. When a child is playing their brain is in a constant state of learning, problem solving and critical thinking – whether it’s the associated physics, the engineering that underpins the equipment, or the math that might be involved in the layout – this is where our collaboration with Beverlie has been very insightful.”

Beyond leading the College’s research activities, she is an internationally-known expert on early childhood education and outdoor play. She’s written and co-authored seven different books and has been a driving force in bringing the importance of outdoor play into focus for those who educate early childhood educators.

Last year, Dietze and Waterplay Solutions secured a $24,930 federal grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Engage program to work together to build business opportunities incorporating some of those outdoor play principles in design thinking at Waterplay Solutions.

Dietze, at first, was amazed at the global reach of Waterplay Solutions. “Not many people realize there’s a company like this in our midst. From Australia to Carolina, France to Fort St. John, from the Netherlands to Chile and Indonesia, you can find the company’s installations amazing children.Waterplay 2 May 2019

“What’s clear is that they give a lot of thought about children’s play and development and what goes into their product. What I’ve been able to do is highlight how Waterplay Solutions products contribute to children’s curiosity and areas of development, such as language, literacy, self-regulation skills, and foundational Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) discoveries that support later academic performance.”

An example that Dietze points to is a recent visit to a park in Australia where the waterpark features provided children with numerous play options and experiences including the interplay between shadows of some of the water park features with the space and how those might inspire children.

Hutchinson notes, “As a global company we team up with amazing people around the world who help bring our dream of connecting the world through play to reality – Beverlie is one of these people. When we can design a product to capitalize on a child’s natural curiosity and sense of wonderment we create something truly beneficial to the child, the community he or she lives in, and the world that child grows up to be a part of."


Start the presses! Writing and Publishing program returns to Vernon
Okanagan College Media Release

Publishing isn’t dead – just experiencing an explosive rebirth as storytelling undergoes a digital transformation.

To meet the content needs of the coming generation, the Writing and Publishing Diploma program at Okanagan College returns to the Vernon campus starting in September.

The program infuses the range of English, creative writing, editing and communications material with applied technical skills in graphic design, typography, coding and book publishing, producing students who can publish quality content in a range of media.

Jennie Evans W&P May 2019For second-year student Jennie Evans, who is writing a mystery novel, the program opened her eyes to a broad range of opportunities.

“I don’t know if I can put into words how much I like this program. I thought I would get into copy editing after school, but my plans have 100% changed,” she laughs. “In this program we’ve done a lot of fine arts with writing, and I see how there seems to be a lot of jobs in graphic design. I didn’t expect to like graphic design as much as I do.

“In the class, we have projects for real clients. Designing posters for a client like the Red Dot Players is rewarding, and shows real-world application.”

Studying at the Vernon campus takes advantage of the Okanagan College Print Shop, affectionately called “The Bunker” by students and staff. Located in the basement floor, the letterpress print shop features more than 20,000 pounds of vintage printing presses and metal type. Some assignments see students applying their typography and design knowledge by setting type by hand and printing that type on 100-year-old presses.

Although many people only think in terms of digital publishing, instructor Jason Dewinetz says The Bunker experience offers students a unique learning experience.

“I can’t stress enough what working in The Bunker does for students. It’s transformational. When they go back to the computer, they are thinking of things completely differently,” Dewinetz says. “We are all so tethered to the phones, that hands-on tactile activities like this really change their point of view. They’re getting dirty, they have ink on their hands, and then the real benefit comes when working in the three-dimensional world and applying it to the two-dimensional screen.”

This intricate manual work is done in conjunction with training on industry-standard publishing software like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign – preparing students to work in multiple fields.

“We have a large number of business students who take our courses because they are interested in learning the software, and it gives them valuable skills for a variety of industries,” explains Dewinetz, adding the technical skills are enhanced with broad understanding in editing, writing and graphic design, as well as what it’s like to work with real-world clients.

“This program gives students a taste of different disciplines before they specialize, and some have gone on to other programs as well,” he says.

Second-year student Stephen Ikesaka had a specialty, but is also considering switching gears. He has published two novelsStephen Ikesaka W&P May 2019 under the nom de plume S.K. Aetherphoxx, and is currently working on the third in his
Fatespinner trilogy. He started his own publishing company with the aim to help other writers, and found the program put him on a steep learning curve.

“There is a really clear connection between good writing and the display of that writing. Things like typefaces, margin structures and how the human eye moves all affect how work is perceived. It doesn’t matter how good your story is, if it’s presented in Comic Sans, it is going to affect my reading experience,” he says. “With writing you can get comfortable, but this program challenges you to get outside of that comfort zone. I have grown a lot, and incorporated a lot of different styles that I wouldn’t have considered before, but it’s made my writing more vivacious.”

Students who complete the Diploma of Writing and Publishing can transfer to many university programs in B.C. to attain a bachelor’s degree in their desired field. Although he hadn’t originally planned to continue his education, Ikesaka indicates the program has opened those doors for him.

“I’m having a great time learning. I’d like the ability to teach, perhaps as a buffer while I am working on writing projects, so that is why I’m considering graduate studies. For the first time in my life, I think I know what I want to be doing,” he says.

An Information Night is planned for creative individuals who are curious about the program and writing and publishing career options. On May 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Room E102 of the Vernon campus (7000 College Way), participants can meet experienced faculty members, learn about how the program blends traditional and cutting-edge publishing techniques and tour The Bunker.

Follow @ocbunkerprintshop
 on Instagram for samples of student work produced in The Bunker at the Vernon campus. For program information, visit


OC students draw a career in the animation industry
Okanagan College Media Release

Animation Grads May 2019Shaina Cook stepped into Okanagan College’s animation lab two years ago armed with pencils, paper and a life-long dream of bringing
her creations to life. Yesterday, she graduated with the inaugural graduating class from the College’s Animation diploma program, established to deliver on the growing need in the community.

The College celebrated seven students in an industry-themed ceremony last night at the Okanagan Innovation Centre, where students put on a final showcase of their work, gave tours and networked with industry professionals.

“Being part of the first class through this program has been a wild and fun ride,” says Cook. “My skills, creative abilities and understanding of animation have definitely improved. I find it really cool that I’m going to have a chance at being part of a creative team for animated media and coming up with ideas that don’t exist today – the industry is an ever-adapting field of imagination and I can’t wait to be in it.”

As part of the College’s two-year program, students were paired with industry mentors who best fit their skills, interests and career goals. Thanks to those partnerships, students were able to learn from experienced professionals and get a real-life feel for what it’s like to work in an animation studio.

“I have a more solid understanding of the industry pipeline than before and because of that I know exactly what I want to do in the industry – 3D character and creature animation,” explains Cook. “This program helped us achieve the quality and connections we needed to become employable. I’ve been interviewing and hope to be working at a studio very soon.”

A hub for creative digital arts and the tech sector, the Innovation Centre is newly opened in downtown Kelowna, placing students at the epicentre of top Okanagan animation studios including Bardel Entertainment, Hyper Hippo and Yeti Farm Creative. Most students in the program have already secured a job or are currently in the process of interviewing to begin their career in the local animation industry.

“The industry is saturated with work and there are simply not enough qualified and skilled animators, designers, storyboard artists, FX artists, to fulfill current industry demands,” says Ashley Ramsay, Partner and CEO at Yeti Farm Creative. “The industry shows no signs of slowing down and Okanagan College graduates will be fortunate to have their pick of local opportunities should they wish to stay in Kelowna upon graduation.”

Students will officially cross the stage and receive their credentials at Okanagan College’s Spring Convocation ceremony at the Kelowna campus on June 1. Wednesday, they showcased their demo reels to an appreciative crowd of potential employers, relatives and professors and mentors. Their first-year colleagues also showcased a collage of their work to date.

“I want to congratulate all of the animation students and recognize them for their hard work and dedication to their craft,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The animation entertainment industry has experienced exponential growth and I’m confident these students will play a prominent role by offering new insights, inspiring new directions and helping to further expand the industry.”

The College will welcome its next intake of students into the Animation diploma program this September. For more information visit


Scholarships support health-care training at OC’s Revelstoke Centre
Okanagan College Media Release

Study to be a Health Care Assistant (HCA) in Revelstoke and be confident that the community is there to support you.

Revelstoke residents taking the HCA program at Okanagan College beginning this September will get a financial boost, thanks to the Revelstoke District Health Foundation.

The Foundation is donating $12,000 to create scholarships to directly support Revelstoke residents who register as students in the program this fall. The HCA program provides training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.

“The Revelstoke District Health Foundation is pleased to once more offer financial assistance in the form of scholarships to Revelstoke students accepted into the Health Care Assistant program at Okanagan College. The two past intakes have proved very successful and of great benefit to our community. We had no hesitation in participating with Interior Health and Okanagan College to support another great program,” says Margaret Zielonka, Acting Chair of the Revelstoke District Health Foundation Committee.

The intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting in September and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.

Up to 12 students will each receive $1,000 scholarships, as part of a partnership between the Revelstoke District Health Foundation, Interior Health and Okanagan College.
Tuition for the program is $3,261 and is student-loan eligible.

“Interior Health appreciates this generous contribution from the Foundation, which will ultimately have direct benefit to the people we serve. Health care assistants are in high demand in Revelstoke and this contribution ensures that local individuals are able to pursue their certification in Revelstoke,” says North Okanagan Long-term Care Administrator Josee Leclerc.

“It is also a vitally rewarding job because health care assistants are the people who often have the closest relationships with individuals in care or needing support at home.”

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

“The need for health care assistants is growing and employment opportunities for individuals with this training are plenty. We are grateful that the Foundation chose to support students who will ultimately become the faces of health care in the region,” explains Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean Shuswap Revelstoke.

An information night is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Revelstoke Centre, 1401 1
st St. West. Students will meet program staff who can discuss the program and outline education financing options, admission requirements and supports for returning students. Information on Work BC funding eligibility will also be available.

Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-832-2126, ext. 8259 or visit


The Okanagan is RIPE with innovative applied research
Okanagan College Media ReleaseRIPE logo 2019

Does your business or organization have unique problems that need solving? Can eating bugs really help save the planet? How can you grow a new industry in your city?

Applied research may provide the answers.

From craft brewing to hydroponics, the Okanagan is RIPE with applied research projects and Okanagan College is helping to drive these projects, benefitting community members, entrepreneurs, students and business owners along the way.

To shine a light on applied research, the College is opening its doors to the community for its third annual RIPE (Research, Innovation and Partnerships Expo) event. The event is an opportunity for community members, industry, business owners, educators, researchers and students to network, hear about current cutting-edge projects and learn how to get involved with their own.

Dr. Peter Janele April 2019“On a local scale, applied research is about listening to your community to learn about obstacles or inefficiencies and then finding a sustainable solution and implementing real change,” explains Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at the College. “Applied research by Okanagan College employees is making a big impact regionally and globally.”

The event features a wide variety of workshops led by industry-leading professionals. Keynote speakers for RIPE 2019 include Dr. Peter Janele, PhD and Dr. David Waltner-Toews, BA, DVM, PhD. Janele will speak to applied research as a vital component of business development and prosperity in the Okanagan Valley.

“The results and impacts of applied research are all around us,” says Janele. “Our global efficiency has improved and we live in a vastly different and improved community, now, then say only a few decades ago.”

Waltner-Toews will bring scientific, cultural, ecological and value-laden perspectives to the idea of eating right in a world that has contradictory and ever-changing information about nutrition.
Dr. David Waltner-Toews April 2019
“They may not know it, but community members play a prominent role in applied research,” says Waltner-Toews. “They’re the end-users who help define the questions and provide information from their own experiences – which helps produce more resilient and more sustainable solutions.”

“If we as researchers and communities can get enough small actions, we can tip whole systems in new directions and there is no telling what the possibilities are.”

Attendees will be treated to a morning mixer, a panel discussion and can hear applied research pitch questions and connect and expand their own applied research opportunities.

Tickets are $25 and include lunch and refreshments. To view the event schedule, learn more about the workshops and to purchase tickets, visit

The event is being supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).


Okanagan College nabs seven medals at Skills BC
Okanagan College Media Release

Josh Burnell April 2019Winning gold usually means the hard work is done, but for Okanagan College Aircraft Maintenance Engineer student, Josh Burnell, it means it is time to buckle down.

Burnell and six other Trades and Technology students have returned home after podium finishes at the Skills Canada BC competition in Abbotsford last week.

Burnell performed a 100-hour inspection on a Rolls Royce Allison 230-C20 free turbine engine in only eight hours which won him the gold medal.

“I spent two months researching the engine as well as studying the Canadian Aviation Regulations,” explains Burnell. “During the competition I was pressed for time and had to work under pressure - finding part numbers and maintenance manual references. In the end all my hard work paid off and I won gold.”

Now Burnell will go on to compete at the 25th annual Skills Canada National Competition on May 28 and 29 in Halifax.

“The National competition will be massive and a lot more difficult than Skills BC was,” adds Burnell. “I am very excited to compete and to learn so much more than I already have. I will be staying after class every day until then, working with my instructors Hal Hobenshield and Lyndon Walker who will be mentoring me through the tasks that I will need to perform.”

Also earning a gold medal was Kendall Giesbrecht in the Automotive Service Technician program.Kendall Giesbrecht April 2019

“The competition was challenging but there wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before, so it was just a matter of staying relaxed and focused at the same time,” says Giesbrecht. “When they called my name as the gold medal winner I was so excited and very happy with the results. I’m really looking forward to the national competition…it’s a huge honour to have this opportunity.”

Skills Canada is the only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students and apprentices in the country with more than 550 competitors participating in over 40 skilled trade and technology competitions.

“Skills Canada offers an opportunity for students across the country to hone their skills in trades and technology,” says Teresa Kisilevich, Associate Dean of Trades & Apprenticeship. “The students compete against the clock and each other in an intense competition that also serves as an interactive and engaging environment for the students and instructors in the audience. A lot of hard work goes into preparing for this, and it’s great to see the learning in action.”

Also taking home medals from the provincial competition were Riley Nairn with silver for Heavy Equipment Service, Frank van Zandwijk with silver for IT Network Systems Administration, Cody Mayo with bronze for Heavy Equipment Service, Michael Parker with bronze for Refrigeration and Ryan Robertson with bronze for IT Network Systems Administration.


OC Coyotes bring hot bats to beat Dinos, now top the leagues
Okanagan College Media Release

After a midweek double header last week that saw the Coyotes split with the TRU Wolfpack, OC took to the road and headed to Calgary to play the University of Calgary Dinos for a four game set starting on Friday and ending on Saturday. The OC bats came alive over the four games as they outscored the Dinos 54 to 19 and banged out 69 hits.
Coyotes Brown April 2019
 Austin Brown
 Coyotes Hummel April 2019
Wyatt Hummel 
 Coyotes Monks April 2019
Tyler Monks 
 Coyotes Todo April 2019
Davis Todosichuk 

While the OC defense had some lapses and the pitching staff would not pitch to their capabilities, the offense just would not be stopped.

In game one on Friday, sophomore starting pitcher
Chris Wyslobocki went all seven innings allowing no runs, five hits, four walks and striking out eight batters. All but one OC batter who came to the plate recorded a hit, led by senior Jake Fischer and junior Noah Wood-Jolivet who were both three for five with two RBI. Seven other Coyotes each had two hits to add to the 21 in the game. OC won game one by a 13-0 score.

On Saturday, the Coyotes again scored in the double digits - 16 times on 19 hits. Senior
Davis Todosichuk would have a big game going four for six with a double and an RBI. freshman Brendan Luther and sophomore Trevor Mlait each went three for six, with Luther chalking up three RBI. The Coyotes stole eight bases in the game. On the mound, OC needed four pitchers to get the job done. Freshman starting pitcher Nick Lee struggled with consistency as he lasted only three innings, allowing two runs on four hits, walking four and striking out five. In relief, sophomore Alex Dawson threw 1.2 innings allowing two runs on two hits and walking three. Next on the mound was freshman Brett Reid who threw 2.1 innings allowing no runs, no hits, walking three and striking out one. Freshman Jayden Clayton closed the game, throwing two innings, allowing three runs on two hits and two walks. OC won game two 16-7.

In game three, OC continued to dominate at the plate, scoring 11 runs on 15 hits. Fischer and freshman
Massimo Peranio would rack up three hits each with Fischer driving in four runs. Freshman Nolan King had two hits and three RBI, while senior Jeremy Buckley would also have two hits and two RBI. Senior Trevor Brigden started on the mound and threw six innings allowing three runs on eight hits, striking out seven Dinos. Brigden sits at the top of the wins leaderboard with five and top of the strikeouts with 51. Junior Wyatt Hummel came in as relief and threw three innings allowing no earned runs, one hit and three strikeouts. OC won the game 11-4.

On Sunday, the final game of the series was played and it was back and forth early on, until OC took the lead in the eighth inning. On the mound, sophomore
Jesse Poniewozik threw five innings allowing four runs on seven hits, walking four and striking out three. Sophomore Gavin Barrett came in as relief but could not get an out before freshman Austin Brown took over. Brown would throw the final four innings allowing no runs, one hit and striking out five. On offence, Peranio had a huge game going four for five with two doubles and four RBI. Freshman Tyler Monks was three for five with two RBI, Todosichuk was three for three with a double and an RBI and Fischer would go two for four with three RBI to add to his league leading 23 RBI. The Coyotes were down by 8-6 going into the seventh inning, scoring one run in the top of the seventh, three in the eighth inning to take the lead and four in the top of the 9th to take a commanding 14-8 lead - the final score.

The Coyotes now have a record of 17-5, which all but guarantees them 1st or 2nd going into the championships. OC has a bye weekend to let their batteries recharge before their final six games. OC will play host to TRU on Wednesday May 1
st at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., which will also be their Senior Night where they celebrate their graduating senior players between games. Then they will travel to Lethbridge to take on the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs on May 3rd and 4th.


Former youth in care take advantage of free tuition program
Okanagan College Media Release

Forty-three former youth in care have accessed post-secondary education and skills training at Okanagan College, thanks to the B.C. Government’s Provincial Tuition Waiver Program.

Okanagan College is one of 25 public post-secondary institutions in the province with students that have benefitted from the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program. The program supports the transition into post-secondary by waiving tuition and mandatory fees and provides an increased chance for a positive employment outcome for former youth in care.

“We look forward to helping as many former youth in care as possible access higher learning at Okanagan College and find pathways into the world,” says Okanagan College President, Jim Hamilton. “This is an exciting initiative that is yielding results.”

The Provincial Tuition Waiver Program has increased by 326 per cent since it launched in 2017. As a result, 806 former youth in care are now studying all over the province in social work, academic arts, nursing, pre-medical studies, trades, business administration and graphic design.

About 7,500 children and youth are currently in the care of the Province or on youth agreements.

Post-secondary education is important in terms of getting jobs. According to the latest labour market projections, nearly 80 per cent of 903,000 jobs in B.C. that will be vacated or created between now and 2028 will require individuals to have post-secondary education.

To read the full story from the B.C. Government, click here
. To learn more about the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, click here.


OC’s new fundraising director starts June 10
Okanagan College Media Release

Helen Jackman April 2019A new face will be leading Okanagan College’s fundraising efforts beginning June 10.

Helen Jackman will join the College as Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation and Director of Advancement. Jackman replaces Kathy Butler, who retired in late 2018.

“The College has a great reputation in terms of its service to the region and I know that a major reason is the community support it has attracted to help build campuses, programs and student supports. I’m excited to be stepping into the fundraising role at this juncture as the College continues to grow,” says Jackman, who is leaving her role as the Executive Director of United Way Southern Interior BC to join the College. “I’ve looked carefully at where I wanted to take my next career step. It had to be somewhere that I could devote myself to long-term, and something that would allow me to contribute to building the region I’m calling home. Okanagan College offered that opportunity.”

Jackman is a relatively new arrival in the Okanagan, moving here with her family in 2017 to join United Way. Before leaving the United Kingdom, she was Chief Executive Officer of the Macular Society, a medical research charity, where she led multi-million dollar research campaigns and oversaw significant growth. Prior to that, she was Executive Director Programs at NESTA, where she built funding partnerships with government and industry. Jackman also recently joined the Board of the Journey Home Society, where she co-chairs the Advocacy and Education Committee.

“Helen has established significant connections in the Okanagan in the short time she has been here and has a CV that showcases her ability to lead as well as challenge herself and the teams she worked with,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “I know she will relate well to the many donors who have well-established relations with the College and the Foundation.”

“I look forward to working with Helen and I know our Board is eager to continue to engage the communities of the region to help develop the learning opportunities at Okanagan College,” says Foundation Board President Sharron Simpson.


Black holes, time warps and zombie films: All part of learning opportunity at Experience OC
Okanagan College Media Release

What’s the deal with human violence? If you could warp time in a black hole, would you want to? Who started the trend of zombie cinema? Do forensic fingerprints ever disappear? How do you capture sound?

High-school students can ask those burning questions and more at Okanagan College’s Experience OC at the Penticton campus, set for May 8.Experience OC Pen 2019

The annual event invites students in Grades 10 and 11 to become a college student for a day, in a fun environment designed to help them explore the post-secondary world. Students can register in a variety of classes from chemistry, physics and arts, to trades, business and audio engineering.

“Post-secondary can be daunting if you don’t have a chance to explore the campus, meet instructors and tour buildings beforehand. Experience OC is the perfect opportunity for students to get a feel for Okanagan College,” says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen. “The Penticton campus likes to roll out the welcome mat to students so they can discover academic, trades and vocational programs that fit best with their interests and future.”

In addition to the hour-long classes, students will be treated to fun activities, snacks and refreshments. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Experience OC events are open to high school students and take place annually at the College’s campuses in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon.

Students should speak to their high school counsellor to register. More information is online at
. Deadline for students to register is May 3.


Carpenter Foundation program builds skills and community in South Okanagan
Okanagan College Media Release

Carpentry April 2019The residential construction industry is thriving in the South Okanagan, and a carpentry program with extra supports for Indigenous students is underway in Penticton to help ensure a needed supply of skilled tradespeople.

In addition to addressing the industry demand for carpenters, the program will support important skills development for the community. The class – that started this month – will be working with Greyback Construction to build a home at Skaha Hills, among the many K’ul Group projects underway to support economic development of the Penticton Indian Band (PIB).

“We are excited to see the program back in Penticton, it is a great program and provides a unique opportunity to work with our community partners to continue building capacity in a dynamic and growing economic sector,” says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean South Okanagan.

Noah Bower completed the Carpenter Foundation program last year in Penticton, starting the program at age 17. He said he was always drawn to the diverse work in the field.

“When I was in high school, I did a bit of electrician training, but found that you did the same thing over and over and over. It was repetitive. But with carpentry, you’re doing different stuff like pouring concrete, laying out staircases and putting up walls. It’s fun and something different every day,” he explains.

As part of his program, Bower was able to obtain job site experience working on a house at Skaha Hills, which solidified his career path.

“It taught me a lot about carpentry and that I really like the work,” he says, adding that working with other professionals gave him a glimpse of what life after school would be like. “It showed me what to expect out of this industry.”

Bower, a member of the Osoyoos Indian Band, is confident in his career prospects. He is currently taking a two-week course to learn how to handle heavy mechanical equipment on the job site, diversifying his skills.

“If an equipment operator doesn’t show up one day, I want the ability to help out and run the equipment,” Bower says.

“I want to get all my trades tickets: electrician, plumbing and welding. I’d like to become a master of all trades and start a company that does it all, so you don’t have to call other companies for one project. When you’re building a house, you have to call different trades, but I think it would be great to have one company that offered everything. I should be able to accomplish that with the help of my band.”

Four of the 11 students enrolled in the current intake are PIB members, and they received culturally informed supports including mentorship, Elder support, visits from Aboriginal industry speakers, assistance with math and English requirements, and nutrition breaks. Those supports were funded by the Industry Training Authority.

“The Carpenter Foundation program has been a popular program in Penticton in recent years. The 2019 intake was set up to include a pathway to support PIB students to participate through the Key to Employment bridging program with Indigenous Community for Leadership and Development,” explains Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

The next intakes for Carpenter Foundation are August (Kelowna) and February 2020 (Salmon Arm and Revelstoke).

To find out more program details, visit
 or contact 1-877-755-2266.


Mature students benefit from confidence and credentials
Okanagan College Media Release

Maria Otting knew something had to change.Maria Otting 1 April 2019

Having relocated to Salmon Arm, she found herself in need of a new work environment – but quickly realized she had plenty of experience working in offices, but not the credentials listed in ads.

“I noticed a lot of the jobs I was interested in wanted the Administrative Assistant Certificate,” she recalls. “I had years of experience, but didn’t have formal training. I just trained on the job.”

Otting investigated the program, and realized that she was familiar with some course material as a result of her experience – but the program also touched on subjects like payroll and accounting that would broaden her skills.

“I realized that this was something I could do without leaving Salmon Arm, it’s only 10 months and then I can get working,” she says. “I’m really glad I made the decision to go back to school, I’m learning so much.”

Turns out, Otting wasn’t the only one considering a change later in life.

“There’s a lot of mature students in our program. There are stay-at-home moms who have come back after being out of the workforce for a number of years, and people just simply upgrading their skills. We fit right in with the students right out of high school, and everybody gets along,” she says. “It’s great being a mature student. You feel a little bit more confident because you have those life skills and you’re just ready to dive in, get to it and learn.”

The Shuswap has proven very attractive to mature students, with demographic reports indicating the average age of students at the Salmon Arm campus is 27 years old – compared with 25 in Vernon and Penticton.

“Adult learners have unique needs, from financial aid, child care, and academic requirements, and the Salmon Arm campus has built a supportive network that helps remove barriers that prevent people from returning to education,” says Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean Shuswap-Revelstoke.

Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus is holding a seminar called Returning to Education on Wednesday, April 24 to help mature students investigate their options. Instructors will provide an overview of specific study areas, helping people make decisions about what program is the right fit for them. Staff will outline academic requirements and available options for upgrading, in addition to financial aid supports available. WorkBC will also be on hand to discuss funding eligibility.

Returning to Education will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 136 of Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus, 2552 10th Ave. NE, beside the Shaw Centre. For information, call 250-832-2126, ext 8259, email or


Housing help needed for new tourism program students


The advent of Okanagan College’s new tourism management diploma program means there is significant need to accommodate students who will be arriving in Revelstoke to take advantage of the unique learning opportunity this fall.

“This program will be drawing students from within the region, across B.C. and Canada, as well as from around the globe,” explains Joan Ragsdale, OC’s Regional Dean for Shuswap-Revelstoke. “We know what the housing situation is like in Revelstoke, so we’re reaching out now to the community to ask for their help.”

The College, Tourism Revelstoke, the City of Revelstoke, and area employers such as The Regent Hotel, the Best Western, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort are collaborating to ensure that international students especially can find homestay opportunities, to help them integrate with the community. The goal is to find 15 homestay opportunities at approximately $800 per student.

This is an opportunity for our community to show its support for the local industry. These students will be the tourism workers who live, work and learn in Revelstoke. We’re excited that this program will help our businesses secure these future skilled workers,” notes Meghan Tabor, Tourism Revelstoke’s Marketing Director.

The need for the program, and the human resources it will attract, is one that resonates with industry.

“Tourism is one of the biggest growth sectors in the province,” explains Peter Nielsen, VP Operations for Revelstoke Mountain Resort. “Workers are in demand.”

Nielsen is one of the many local tourism experts who has worked with the College over the past year to ensure the program would hit the mark – for students and for those who’ll be hiring them.

The two-year diploma program combines in-class learning with work placement opportunities. The timing of the work placements ensure students will be available when employers need their talents most during busy times of the year. And it is showcasing Revelstoke nationally and internationally as Okanagan College recruits the students.

While OC, Tourism Revelstoke, and employers are focused on homestay opportunities for students, they’re willing to talk to any landlords about any rental opportunities.

We want to see this two-year program – a pilot for Okanagan College – succeed and help reinforce Revelstoke’s reputation as an innovative, supportive community that is at the forefront of sustainable destination tourism,” explains Tabor.

 “From the location, to the access to tourism employers, to the quality of instruction at Okanagan College, all the components are there to set students up for success and help them distinguish themselves in tourism management roles,” says Nielsen. “I couldn’t be more excited to see the program roll out this fall – and to be able to tap into this new pool of talent before and after they graduate.”

Those interested in providing homestay or rental accommodation to international and domestic students can contact Danielle Tighe, Okanagan College’s Manager of Community Relations and Administration for the Revelstoke Centre. She can be reached at 250-837-4235, ext. 6515 or at


College celebrates a decade of recognizing Aboriginal students’ achievements
Okanagan College Media Release

Saturday, March 9 marked the 10
th Annual Aboriginal Student Recognition Ceremony at Okanagan College and students, educators and community members came together to celebrate students’ accomplishments and acknowledge those who inspired and supported them along the way.Isaac and Terbasket March 2019

“The ceremony is to recognize that these students are getting an education while still holding onto their Indigenous background and teachings,” says Jewell Gillies, Aboriginal Transition Program Advisor. “There are cultural teachings that we on the coast learn from the Big House that give us a sense of our identity, but we want our students to understand that they can carry that with them while they study here. We want to bring harmony to both places.”

The Big House, in the past, referred to literal big houses that sheltered up to four families of a clan. Today, they house ceremonies, decision-making, and discussions between nations and clans. “It’s a place where we inherit knowledge from our communities,” added Gillies.

The ceremony included performances by Metis Jiggers, Mary Ouillette and Jennifer Sharp, Powwow dancers, Arnold and Deanna Ackachuk and family, and Bailey-Marcellay-Thomas and Jayda Echeverria, and keynote speakers. Okanagan College President, Jim Hamilton was among those present to congratulate students.

“This event is always one of the highlights of the year for us at Okanagan College,” said Hamilton. “It’s an honour to be part of recognizing our students’ successes, and it’s equally heartening to see them turn around and acknowledge their instructors, family, friends and community members who have invested in their education.”

That sense of community and collaboration is something Okanagan College business student Wendy Terbasket says she has experienced during her time at the College.

“My people are making great strides for the betterment of their future and communities,” says Terbasket. “The College’s values are so in line with my own: everyone working together and working toward a common goal. It just feels so great to be at a school that is so accepting and supportive.”

Terbasket is among those students who nominated an instructor they felt significantly impacted them and deserved to be recognized. She nominated OC School of Business Professor Scott Overland.

“Scott has been a great sounding board for my concerns, not only about my post-secondary journey but also about the struggles in my community,” added Terbasket. “He’s always been so helpful and it is greatly appreciated.”

Instructors Teresa Proudlove, Laura Jockman, Richard Volk, Adam Craig, Stacey Grimm, Denise Boudreau, Dana Hurtubise, Tracy Riley, Diane Little, Katherine Bonell, and Matthia Vaillancourt were also honoured for going above and beyond for their students.

Present at the ceremony were honourary guests: Wilfred Barnes, Syilx Elder; Christopher Derickson, Councilor of the Westbank First Nation; Secwepemc Nation Dignitaries: Darrell Jones, Louis Thomas, Tammy Thomas and George William; Joan Wright, President of the Salmon Arm Metis Association, Jennifer Sharp and Nicole Skidmore; Loyal Wooldridge, City of Kelowna Councilor; Shelley Joseph, Reconciliation Canada; and Gloria Morgan, Vice President of OC Board of Governors and a former chief of the Splatsin Indian Band.


Hoopla: President’s Celebration of OC Coyotes Basketball
Okanagan College Media Release

Megan Blair Coyotes April 2019Okanagan College’s Coyotes basketball teams invite you to mix and mingle with the players, coaches and supporters at the third annual Hoopla fundraiser.

“Our women’s and men’s basketball teams have performed admirably and won a lot of respect both on and off the court,” says Jim Hamilton, Okanagan College President. “It’s been thrilling to see them develop as teams over the past couple of years, and to witness the time and energy they’ve invested in mentoring youth. This event is a great opportunity to celebrate the teams’ successes after their first season of official league play.”

The fundraiser takes place Thursday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning building at the Kelowna campus.

Attendees can participate in silent and live auctions, enjoy a cash bar with local VQA wines, beer and cider from Big Surf brewery, and savour gourmet bites prepared by the OC Culinary Arts students and staff.

Last May, after a year of exhibition games, coaches and members of the Kelowna College Basketball Society (KCBS) found out that the men’s and women’s teams would officially join the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST). Three Coyotes earned honours from PACWEST: Sapna Deo, Seth Blundell and Megan Blair.

Now, as their first season in PACWEST has come to a close, head coach of the men’s team, and president of the KCBS, Dino Gini, could not be more proud.Jeff Tubbs Coyotes April 2019

“In our first year, both teams made the playoffs, which is an incredible accomplishment,” says Gini. “It’s pretty surreal to think about how quickly our program has grown and how passionate the community is about supporting what we are doing. We are proud to have the OC logo on our chest.”

The Coyotes are also giving back to the community with a social campaign: Values over Victory. This project is driven by athletes to encourage children to showcase their values to the world both on and offline. The players have become peer-mentors, and visit classrooms around the community to talk to children about the importance of being responsible on social media.

“Teaming up with Values over Victory has given our program the opportunity to be a part of a positive movement that extends off the court and into our community,” says Jeff Tubbs, captain of the men’s team. “I’m extremely proud of our guys for taking ownership and giving back. We’re all looking forward to seeing some of the community at Hoopla, without them we couldn’t do what we do.”

Special guest speaker Tom Budd will also be at the fundraiser. Budd’s journey is one of healing and finding hope, and will talk of the value of giving while bringing attention to health and wellness.

“We are extremely honoured to have Tom as our special guest speaker,” adds Gini. “He is extremely motivational when it comes to his story about mental health and wellness.”

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased on Eventbrite


Sex, Salmonella, and Beetles: Epidemiologist shares how eating bugs could save the world
Okanagan College Media Release

What do food, sex and salmonella have in common? How will eating insects help save the planet? Award-winning author and veterinary epidemiologist David Waltner-Toews will share his insights during an upcoming talk as part of Okanagan College’s Speakers Series.David Waltner-Toews April 2019

Waltner-Toews’s reading will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 13 in the theatre at The Innovation Centre at 460 Doyle Ave. in Kelowna.

“Eating is our most intimate relationship with the world, and good intimate relationships require commitment,” explains Waltner-Toews. “We must ask of our food, ‘where were you before you came to my table, and where will you be tomorrow?’”

Waltner-Toews has published more than 20 books, including poetry, short stories, a murder mystery, six books of popular science, and several texts on ecosystem approaches to health. His most recent book,
Eat the Beetles!, challenges us to think about our attitude toward insects, and whether eating them might help solve the planet’s environmental problems.

A professor emeritus at the University of Guelph, Waltner-Toews was founding president of Veterinarians without Borders Canada, of the Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health, and a founding member of Communities of Practice for Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Canada. He is also the recipient of the inaugural award for contributions to ecosystem approaches to health from The International Association for Ecology and Health.

Waltner-Toews will be reading from his 2008 book,
Food, Sex and Salmonella: Why Our Food is Making Us Sick, and will answer questions about Eat the Beetles!, The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us about Evolution, Ecology, and Sustainable Society, and his other books.

This reading is presented by Okanagan College and supported by the Writers’ Union of Canada’s National Public Readings Program and the Okanagan Regional Library.

Admission is free, but space is limited so please register in advance on Eventbrite

Donations of non-perishable food or hygiene products will be gratefully accepted to help Okanagan College students in need as part of The Pantry food bank project at the Kelowna campus coordinated by the Okanagan College Students’ Union.