• Kelowna's Homepage
  • Vernon's Homepage

Campus Life  

Patchwork Farms harvests a successful year

Okanagan College Media Release

It might be the middle of winter but the work goes on for Patchwork Farms.

Located at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College, Patchwork Farms is a community collective farm offering meaningful activities that foster personal growth, strengthen the local food system and enhance appreciation for land, food, health and community.

Patchwork Farms has recently reported on its 2015 activities and the numbers are impressive. 1,665 pounds of produce was grown and harvested by volunteers and program participants and included a wide variety of berries, vegetables, herbs, and fruits. More than 535 people participated in the farm as volunteers, in various food programs and as attendees at events.

Much of the produce that was grown came from seeds from the Kalamalka Seed Library (located at Okanagan College). The library collection grew this year to over 125 different heirloom seeds.

Integral to the success of Patchwork Farms was a new irrigation system. Thanks to the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) grant program, Okanagan College was able to support Patchwork Farms with the design and implementation of an updated irrigation system including new moisture sensor equipment that allowed the farm to save water, demonstrate best practices, and train farm personnel and volunteers on water conservation methods.

“The OBWB’s Water Conservation and Quality Improvement grant has been a huge help with respect to the irrigation issues faced by the farm and we are very appreciative of their assistance,” says Karen Truesdale, Project Co-ordinator with Kindale Developmental Association.

“The infrastructure provided by Okanagan College is key to making this community farm a success.”

Throughout the cold winter months, Patchwork Farms will be working with the College and its seed library and the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan to bring new food programming, new crops, and more water conservation to the farm in 2016.

To learn more about Patchwork Farms and the Kalamalka Demonstration Garden, visit Okanagan.bc.ca/patchworkfarms.


UBC prof. looking for seniors with hearing loss for new study

Assoc. Prof. Charlotte Jones is looking for local seniors to participate in program.

Assoc. Prof. Charlotte Jones is looking for local seniors to participate in program.

UBC Okanagan’s widely popular Walk ‘n Talk for your Life program — that creates exercise and safe social settings for local seniors — is branching out.

Assoc. Prof. Charlotte Jones, who teaches with UBC’s Southern Medical Program, initiated Walk ‘n Talk in 2014, is now looking for seniors who are living with hearing loss. In partnership with YMCA of Okanagan (Rutland Family YMCA), Jones is looking for people, aged 65 and older, to participate in Walk, Talk and Listen.

“Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health problems in North America,” says Jones, noting that audiometry results from the 2012 and 2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey indicate that 47 per cent of adults aged 60 to 79 had a measured hearing loss.

“Our goal with Walk, Talk and Listen is to reduce the major downstream of negative psychosocial and functional physical limitations associated with hearing loss in older adults.”

Jones says studies have proven a connection between hearing loss and health-related quality of life. She notes hearing loss can also lead to social isolation, depression, incident dementia, and cognitive deterioration, and even a decline in functional fitness, increased falls, and hospitalizations.

“Hearing loss can be very stressful and cause people to avoid social situations, to feel embarrassed and in some cases to be less physically fit,” says Jones. “Basically, hearing loss can have a huge impact on a person’s overall health and wellness.”

The Walk, Talk and Listen study will begin in March and UBC is currently looking for reasonably healthy residents, 65-years or older, who do not use a cane, walker or wheelchair and have not taken part in an organized or regular exercise program in the last year to participate in the 12-week study.

Participants will meet at the Rutland YMCA twice a week, for a two-hour study group.

Along with supervised and graduated exercise, including structured balance, resistance and weight training, and a 30-minute walk, time will also be devoted to informal interactive socialization, laughter, and health education, in addition to special sessions on Auditory Rehabilitation which are aimed at helping people cope better with hearing loss.

Students in Medicine, Nursing, Psychology, Human Kinetics and Social Work will be working directly with the participants.

There is no fee and The Walk, Talk and Listen study will take place in a hearing-loss friendly environment.

“I really encourage people to join others with hearing loss and learn how to be more comfortable socializing, have fun, become more physically active and learn more about health and wellness,” adds Jones

To find out more, people are encouraged to contact Carolyn Roque at 250-807-9827 or [email protected].

-- 30 --

Back to school for RV pros at Okanagan College

Okanagan College Media Release

Carl HollmannCarl Hollmann is among those Okanagan College alumni who relish the close working relationship that his alma mater has with the Recreation Vehicle industry that has provided him with a fulfilling career.

Hollmann, who runs his own business in Nanaimo, B.C., was among 24 RV technicians gathered in early February at Okanagan College for industry-led training that familiarizes them with the most recent equipment and techniques used in the industry.

Most of them – like Hollmann – are Red Seal tradespeople and graduates of the College’s RV Service Technician program, which is the only one in the province.

The industry training was organized by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of B.C. (RVDABC) and Okanagan College. Manufacturers and equipment suppliers came to the College’s Kelowna campus to provide the service techs with information about new technology.

“It was tremendous,” explains Hollmann, who has been a tech for 16 years. “Atwood Mobile Products was on hand Monday to show us and explain their new furnaces and water heaters. They have executed a complete redesign on their product line but it’s so fresh there are no service manuals yet, and tech support isn’t completely up to speed.”

“We run into the products in the RVs we service and this is the best way to bring yourself up to speed.”

Other manufacturers on hand included Dometic Corporation, Demco/Hijacker and Canadian Energy.

Hollmann, who has also done duty on occasion as an instructor at the College, is also a fervent advocate for the program and the career opportunities being an RV Service Tech affords.

“I’ve travelled around the world with it,” he says. “I went to Australia and worked for an RV dealership there. Inside two weeks I was shop foreman. They don’t have the kind of training program in Australia that we have here.”

He also used it when he went “snowbirding” to the southern U.S. – and ended up working for several months on inverters and solar panels for RVs.

The best part about being an RV Service Technician, though, says Hollmann is simple:

“It’s being able to fix your own everything.”

RV Service Techs get training in electrical systems, mechanics, plumbing, gas-fitting, construction, carpentry – it’s a collection of skills rolled into one apprenticeable trade, which has significant employer demand. Government statistics show that 95 per cent of Okanagan College’s RV Service Technician apprentices are employed.

“Many of the students who enrol in the RV program are surprised at how extensive the skill set they develop is,” says Cam McRobb, the chair of the College’s Motor Vehicle Trades Department. “The other thing – the really important thing – is that there is demand for trained technicians.”

“That demand, and the changing nature of the industry, is one of the reasons we work with Okanagan College to offer these professional development opportunities,” explains Joan Jackson, RVDABC’s Executive Director. “Our member companies have a vested interest in ensuring their technicians are as up-to-speed on new technologies and equipment as is possible. It’s part of their commitment to their customer base.”

Okanagan College will be offering a new intake of its 28-week foundation program in RV Service Technician in September 2016. For more information, you can call (250) 762-5445, ext. 4558 or email [email protected].

Acclaimed author Madeleine Thien to speak at the College

Okanagan College Media Release

UPDATE: Please note that this event has been cancelled due to illness.

Madeleine Thien Feb 2016Inspiring students and the public about the art of writing, Okanagan College’s Department of English is bringing one of B.C.’s prized authors to the Kelowna campus on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Award-winning author Madeleine Thien, of famed novels
Dogs at the Perimeter and Certainty and the short stories collection Simple Recipes, is recognized as an outspoken advocate for women and ethnic writers and for integrity in literary criticism and publishing. She also writes essays on diverse topics including female beauty, state surveillance, visual art, race, and literary politics.

“Thien is a master of the short story form and has gained national and international acclaim for the clarity, precision, and emotional depth of her writing,” said College English Professor Corinna Chong. “We are thrilled to be able to give students, aspiring writers, and lovers of literature the opportunity to meet her and to hear about her writing process.”

In addition to reading from her works, Thien will provide insights into her writing career followed by a question period and book signing. The College’s bookstore will be on hand for those wishing to purchase Thien’s works.

The long list of accolades Thien has received boasts the City of Vancouver Book Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. Most recently, her short story
The Wedding Cake was shortlisted for England’s Sunday Time EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, recognized as the richest prize in the world for a single short story.

Thien will be releasing a highly anticipated new novel in May,
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory during the 1960s.

The free public event will be held this Thursday in room B112 at the College’s Kelowna campus from 7 to 9 p.m.

For more information about the author, visit

A recipe for success: Canada’s best chefs pair up with Okanagan College students at Gold Medal Plates

Chantelle Eustache and Chef O'Flynn, GMP 2016Too many chefs in the kitchen is actually a good thing when it comes to the annual Canadian Culinary Championships’ Gold Medal Plates event, which takes place this weekend and includes more than 50 Okanagan College Culinary and Pastry Arts students who will provide support to 11 of the country’s most remarkable chefs.

“Experiencing Kelowna as a culinary epicentre with Canada’s best chefs descending on the city to battle it out is unique,” says Chef Bernard Casavant, Culinary Manager at Okanagan College and President of the Okanagan Chefs Association. “It’s a prime opportunity for the students to showcase the skills learned in class in a competition environment and allows them to network with some of Canada’s best chefs at a time when they are looking to launch their careers.”

Chantelle Eustache, who was a part of Chef Ryan O’Flynn’s gold-winning team at last year’s competition, echoes this.

“Getting to work beside these top chefs, rub shoulders with the industry’s best, it was over the top,” says the 32-year-old Okanagan Indian Band member from Vernon, who is now working at The Point Grill in Vancouver. She graduated from the College’s Culinary Arts program last June.

She recalls feeling nervous before meeting Chef O’Flynn for the first time, and the looming task ahead: creating 500 plates of a complex gastronomic dish, knowing there was a gold podium finish up for grabs.

“The first thing he said to us was to not let our nerves consume us, but to channel that energy into a focus, that helped a lot,” she says.

“Chef O’Flynn is a mentor to me. He spent a lot of time explaining the process about each step of the dish he had us create with him. He was a great teacher, even when he had a lot of pressure to win on him, he took the time for us.”

The admiration and respect that developed while working together clearly went both ways – O’Flynn specifically requested Eustache and another College chef who was a member of his winning team to join him this year as he prepares a four-course VIP dinner at Big White for 100 guests to kick-off the weekend’s festivities (an honour given to the defending champion).

Eustache is spending the days leading up to Thursday night’s reception to prep a menu boasting porcini panna cotta with Alba truffles, followed by a wild Canadian chowder with Coho salmon and boar, and a confit pork belly with black pudding crumble. The main course is pan-roasted King Cole duck breast with an Okanagan sherry sauce, and the menu’s finale will feature an intricate wine-poached Okanagan pear desert masterpiece.

For two days, starting Feb. 5, the College’s kitchens at the Kelowna campus will become a culinary battlefield with peeling, slicing, dicing, and searing taking place in preparation of the weekend’s events. The chefs prep their dishes at the College for Friday’s mystery wine pairing event at the Delta Grand Hotel and spend all of Saturday morning competing in the Black Box event at the College. The finale event is held Saturday evening at the Delta Grand Hotel.  

“Donating the use of our space is an industry contribution on behalf of the College, and facilitating our students’ involvement is an investment we make in their education,” says Casavant.

“Okanagan College provides a great space for the prep and their students are some of the best in the country,” says 2015 Gold Medal Plates winner O’Flynn. “In my opinion, I got the best two student chefs last year, of course I wanted them to join me again this year. I think that the College’s instructors’ experience and background has a lot to do with the quality training the students receive.”

With tickets sold out, those hungry to view the dynamic Black Box Challenge can catch the live feed online. A link will be released prior to the start of the competition at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning on Twitter: @GoldMedalPlates.

For more information on Gold Medal Plates events, visit www.goldmedalplates.com.

UBC Management students honoured in business competition

UBC Okanagan third-year Faculty of Management students (from left) Nick Ross, Graeme Sailor, and Jennifer Stolarchuk celebrate their first-place finish at JDC West for entrepreneurship. Photo courtesy JDC West 2016.

UBC Okanagan third-year Faculty of Management students (from left) Nick Ross, Graeme Sailor, and Jennifer Stolarchuk celebrate their first-place finish at JDC West for entrepreneurship. Photo courtesy JDC West 2016.

Teams win awards in entrepreneurship, taxation, and accounting

Faculty of Management (FoM) students from UBC Okanagan’s campus won three top-three finishes at JDC West, one of Canada’s largest business competitions. The teams won awards in three key categories: entrepreneurship, taxation, and accounting.

The Entrepreneurship Team, consisting of students Graeme Sailor, Nick Ross, and Jennifer Stolarchuk, won first place in a category that challenges competitors to create a new product or service addressing an identified market opportunity.

Coached by James Grieve from Nucleus Strategies and Sally Arkell-Boles from SunLife Financial, the Entrepreneurship Team pitched the concept of “Fluid,” an alternative distribution channel based on an Uber-style delivery model with the potential to deliver goods to customers on demand.

“The biggest thing we will take away from this experience is relationships, you make a lot of connections through the coaches and then through the competition, and the network opportunities are valuable,” says Sailor, team captain and third-year FoM student. “This real-world experience gives you more context for asking questions and enhanced value out of the class.”

The Taxation Team, consisting of Michelle Miller, Michael Bitcon, and Alex Little, placed second. The Accounting Team of Brad Curtiss, Cassidy Deering, and Adeet Haroon, finished in third place.

“The most rewarding part of the experience in coaching Jennifer, Graeme and Nick was seeing them grow both individually and as a team during the sessions when we worked with them,” says David Jenkins, a FoM Capstone Instructor. “A significant contributor to their success was their self-confidence in front of the judges. We were fortunate to have Sally and James as business coaches, adding their wealth of practical experience to the team.”

UBC’s FoM sent some 50 students to compete in JDC West, the largest business competition in Western Canada. Held in Saskatoon on Jan. 16 and 17, the event showcases academics, athletics, debate, and an out-of-the-box social competition with more than 600 students from 12 of western Canada’s top universities competing.

“We are very proud of how our students represented UBC Okanagan at the JDC West competition. They were committed and innovative, and these are capabilities that are highly sought-after in today’s management environment,” says FoM Dean Roger Sugden. “I congratulate the students on their achievements and offer my gratitude to our faculty and local businesses for mentoring all the participants. Success is achieved through collaboration, and this truly was a group effort.”


UBC Okanagan researchers receive Killam awards

From left: Miranda Hart, associate professor of biology, and Abbas Milani, associate professor of engineering.

From left: Miranda Hart, associate professor of biology, and Abbas Milani, associate professor of engineering.

Engineering and biology professors win top recognition from university

Soil ecologist Miranda Hart and composite materials engineer Abbas Milani have won UBC Killam Research Fellowships, which enable promising faculty to pursue full-time research during a recognized study leave.

The Fellowships will support the endeavors of two prominent scientists at UBC Okanagan; soil ecologist Miranda Hart, and composite materials engineer Abbas Milani.

“We are delighted that these outstanding faculty have been recognized by the Killam Foundation,” says Phil Barker, Vice-Principal Research at UBC Okanagan. “These recognitions show that research at UBC’s Okanagan campus is continuing its strong upward trajectory.”

Miranda Hart

Hart, associate professor of biology, teaches in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, and studies soil biodiversity. In particular, she is interested in the ecology of soil microbes and the role and applications of microbes in sustainable agriculture, viticulture, and ecological restoration.


Abbas Milani

Milani, associate professor of engineering, teaches in UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering, working with advanced composite materials and their manufacturing. Lightweight and yet strong, these materials have found applications in aerospace, sports equipment, boats, home appliances, among many others



Venture Okanagan 2016

$5,000 prize and connections are the promise of Venture Okanagan

Entrepreneurs are already honing their presentation skills as preparations continue for the 10th edition of Venture Okanagan, Western Canada’s largest student-run pitch session for entrepreneurs.

The event will be held in Kelowna at Okanagan College’s campus on February 18.

Twice annually, Venture Okanagan brings five local entrepreneurs together to compete for the attention of local investors. It’s a rewarding experience for participants and for observers.

And it’s a chance for students from Okanagan College’s School of Business to put their education and skills to work in helping develop local businesses. A group of student volunteers, who are part of Enactus Okanagan College, are the driving force behind Venture Okanagan, led this year by Lauren McKay.

GreenStep Solutions Inc., a local consulting firm focused on environmental sustainability, was the fortunate winner in Spring 2014’s Venture Okanagan event. “The Venture Okanagan process gives invaluable feedback and experience to start-ups,” says Angela Nagy, the CEO of GreenStep. “Participating in the pitching forum adds credibility and exposure that continues to pay off in the long term.” To date, her firm has worked with more than 1,200 businesses and organizations in several sectors, including private, public, non-profit and academic institutions.

There’s also the lure of a $5,000 prize for the event’s winner, provided by the title sponsor, Grant Thornton LLP. “The Okanagan is home to an amazing number of innovative entrepreneurs and businesses, and Venture Okanagan helps connect them with the capital, resources and relationships they need to grow and succeed,” explains Kevin Santos, Partner with Grant Thornton’s Kelowna office. “We are encouraged by the entrepreneurial spirit here, and are excited to be part of the upcoming Investor Forum.”

Beyond the prize and the chance to promote business ideas to local investors, Venture Okanagan is also a premium networking event. Tickets for the event are $40.88 and are available at vowinter2016.eventbrite.ca. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and presentations start at 6 p.m.

Early registration open for the Okanagan College Half Marathon

Okanagan College Media Release

It’s time to hit the ground running and Okanagan runners can get a head start on the race: early-bird registration for the 2016 Okanagan College Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race is now open.Christy Lovig Jan2016

This is the 14
th year for the race, which will be held on Sunday, April 3 in Kelowna. The not-for-profit event raises scholarship funds that support Okanagan College students who are involved in recreation and athletics.

Last year, Kelowna’s Christy Lovig joined more than 400 running enthusiasts on the course that boasts unparalleled lake views to take the women’s 10 K title with a time of 36:48.

“I’ve run the College’s half marathon and 10 K numerous times, and I always look forward to the fast course throughout our beautiful city,” said Lovig. “It’s a pleasure to run in a well-organized event that is backed by such enthusiastic organizers, volunteers, supporters and participants.”

With start and finish lines at the Okanagan College Kelowna campus, the 21.1 km half marathon course runs along the scenic City Park and up to Knox Mountain before looping back towards Gyro Beach. The relay race allows up to five runners to share the same distance in 4 km segments, while the 10 K has runners turn around in City Park.

“We are doing a few things differently this year and I think our runners are going to be really happy with the improvements,” said Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “The course will remain the same but we’re enhancing some of our services for runners, most notably the food. We hear every year that we have the best post-race snacks and we’re going to provide an even better selection of food this year.”

The race will offer cash prizes to the winners of the half marathon event. Prizes for the top relay and 10 km finishers will also be handed out.

Each year, more than 60 volunteers from the community make the event possible and a great success. Non-runners who wish to be involved in the race can contribute their time as race volunteers or course marshals. No experience is necessary.

“We have volunteers of all ages who join us on race day,” said Ulmer. “From young families, local sports team members, and retired runners, everyone always has a great time at cheering our participants on along the course.”

To register, for more details about the course, and entry fee deadlines, visit

Those interested in volunteering can contact Michelle Lowry at 250-762-5445 ext. 4649 or at
[email protected].

Race quick facts:
  • Start time: 8 a.m. (10 K) and 8:15 a.m. (half marathon and relay)
  • Early Bird fees, until Feb. 14: $35 (10 K) and $50 (half marathon)
  • Relay team fees: $125 (until March 30)
  • Follow the Facebook page for updates, training tips and photos

Job-seekers to meet employers at College’s annual Business Expo & Employment Fair

Okanagan College Media Release

David Knapp Jan 2016Looking for work? Graduating students, alumni and community members can meet with the companies who are hiring at the ninth annual Business Expo & Employment Fair at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

More than 60 businesses will be present, looking to meet top candidates from across the Valley, representing a range of sectors including banking, business solutions, engineering technologies, IT, trades and even the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Coast Guard.

“It’s about connecting those looking for work, with those who do the hiring directly for these enterprises,” said organizer and Okanagan College School of Business Program and Event Coordinator Jamie Morrow. “Having a chance to get beyond being just a name on a resume and present yourself to human resources managers can bring you one step closer to having a job and launching a career.”

One company in attendance will be CIBC, which has hosted a booth at the fair since it first launched in 2008. David Knapp, who is the Business Development Manager at CIBC for the B.C. and Northern Territories region and also an Okanagan College alumnus, says the appeal is in attracting candidates who are job-ready.

“Our experience is that Okanagan College graduates have the education, skills and professionalism that are the right match for our bank,” said Knapp. “The employment fair gives applicants and employers a chance to meet for a few minutes and from there we can add candidates to our prospect list for ongoing job opportunities.”

Knapp’s advice to those attending the fair is to come interview-ready: bring your resume, dress for the part, and have your “elevator pitch” in mind. He also mentions to not overlook transferable skills such as how a part-time job in a restaurant while attending college can be aligned with customer service, time management, and basic accounting skills.

“Job seekers need to maximize the short time by being as clear as possible about why our bank is a good fit for their goals, but it’s also important to explain why they are good fit for us,” explained Knapp. “Show us what you can bring to the company. We are looking to find great employees.”

In addition to CIBC, exhibitors will include Accelerate Okanagan, BC Tree Fruits, Capri Insurance, City of Kelowna, Kal Tire, Mission Hill Family Estate/CedarCreek Estate Winery, Sentes Automotive Group, Valley First Credit Union, and Westbank First Nation, to name a few. Certain employers also book additional rooms to conduct more in-depth interviews on the spot for applicants who meet the job criteria.

“It can be a quick process. The value is in making those connections and facilitating first impressions,” comments Morrow.

The public is invited to attend the Business Expo & Employment Fair at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, which will be held in the atrium of the Centre for Learning building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Okanagan College School of Business and the Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre sponsor the event.

For more information, go online:
www.okanagan.bc.ca/business and click on business community for a full list of participating employers.

More Campus Life articles