OC employees shine in Salmon Arm Top 20 Under 40

Portraits of Kristine Wickner and Shelley Desautels

OC instructor Shelley Desautels and Marketing Assistant Kristine Wickner usually have a full agenda, but it’s never too full that they can’t tackle another challenge.

Desautels and Wickner, who both work at the Salmon Arm campus, were recently nominated as one of the city’s Top 20 Under 40, highlighting their contributions within the community. Wickner was nominated to the list in fall 2021, when the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society and the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce first developed the program. Desautels was named to the list in January 2022.

When she’s not teaching, Desautels manages Mighty Owl Mapping, her own mapping and consulting firm, working with the forestry industry as well as various First Nations groups and organizations to map out surrounding forested areas and find where potential archaeological sites may be or where old growth areas are to ensure they are protected.

And when she’s not working on mapping projects, Desautels volunteers her time with the Salmon Arm Legion and serves on the board of community organizations including Boxing for Wellness Society, the Shuswap Cycling Club, the Canadian Federation of University Women and the B.C. Community Forest Association.

Despite a wide-ranging to-do list, however, she still manages to make time to enjoy TV shows with her family.

“Not everything happens every day. It sounds like a lot, but I’m not doing them all every hour,” she said. “There is enough time to get it all done. But when everything starts happening at the same time, you do have to be able to prioritize and manage your time.”

Part of managing her time included throwing her name in the ring during the federal election in the fall of 2021. Desautels ran as the Liberal candidate for North Okanagan-Shuswap, against then-incumbent Mel Arnold.

“I’m not a political person,” she said. “But I learned that if you’re running, you’re really here to help people, so it was kind of what I already do with all the organizations I’m in.  I really enjoyed the experience.”

Desautels said finding out she was nominated to the Top 20 Under 40 within the city was a surprise and an honour.

“I felt super honoured. Not a lot of people know what I’m involved in; it’s just really my close circle of friends that would know, so I was honoured (to be nominated) because I’m not doing these things to make myself look good or have a better resumé,” she said. “That’s not the purpose of doing this. So yes, I was super thrilled that people would actually consider putting my name down for that.”

For her part, Wickner said being nominated to the list brought mixed feelings.

“My values are quite egalitarian in nature, so anything that’s top this or top that, can feel odd,” she said. “I don’t consider myself any better than anybody else. There are lots of people in the community doing lots of good work too, but I am passionate about the issues I talk about so I was happy to have the opportunity to highlight those.”

Wickner says while her main involvement in the Shuswap community is political, it’s a platform that allows her to work on other issues that she is passionate about.  

“We are experiencing intersecting crises and the solutions are interlinked,” she explained. “For example, if we invested in energy efficient public transportation, it can help the climate crisis, but it also helps solve income inequality because it provides more ways for people to get to work as well as the potential for good jobs transitioning from oil and gas to renewable energy”

When she’s not working at the College recruiting students or working with the communications team, Wickner is involved with the Shuswap Women’s Recreational Soccer Association, as a long time player and board member. She is involved with the Shuswap NDP and  active in a professional networking group called Women Who Win that has raised over $100,000 for local charities and has recently been part of Food with Friends, a grassroots movement started by her friend that aimed to feed vulnerable residents when shelters first shutdown at the outset of the pandemic.

She acknowledges that she’s able to work on all she’s passionate about and still have time to spend with her loved ones because she has a good support system.

“I have a very supportive family. I don’t want to give the impression that I do it all, because I don’t,” she said. “I compartmentalize and we share responsibilities at home and doing it this way means all of us can get more done in a healthy way.”

Now, Desautels is encouraging others to help out in their communities however they can.

“I find that we’re having a hard time trying to find volunteers for the organizations I’m involved with. If no one’s going to do the work, who is?” she said. “Take up one thing you’re passionate about: is it the homeless outreach? Biking? What’s your passion in the community and what’s one thing you can do to help support it?”

Wickner says it’s about our priorities and taking it a step at a time.  

“It’s really about priorities. Now is not the time to be complacent,” she said. “You can contribute one little thing at a time. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, but if we all do little things, if we all do what we can do, I think we can make a difference.”

Published By College Relations on February 16, 2022