Campus Life  

OC passes 2020-2021 budget – virtually

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has passed a $126.8 million budget for the coming year, but the board also recognized that circumstances associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic will prompt change over the coming months.

It was passed Tuesday by the Board which gathered virtually through an online meeting platform, an indication of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operations at the institution.

“The very nature of the meeting drove home the fact that circumstances are changing rapidly. We fully recognize the budget was passed as a starting place while the uncertainty associated with the pandemic resolves itself,” explains President Jim Hamilton. The budget was developed before the pandemic was declared and before colleges and universities in the province moved to cease face-to-face delivery of programs.

“In the last three weeks things have changed dramatically and we cannot precisely forecast how these changed circumstances will affect our operations, especially revenue and expenses,” notes Curtis Morcom, Okanagan College’s Vice President Employee and Corporate Services. “There are uncertainties about how long the current situation will last and about what it will do to enrolments or costs. We have been and will be monitoring the impact on operations and will be adjusting expenditures accordingly.”

Okanagan College offers more than 150 programs at its four major campuses in Vernon, Salmon Arm, Penticton and Kelowna, as well as at several other learning centres. “We intend to continue to offer as many of those as possible,” says Hamilton.

Each year OC offers courses to more than 21,000 people.


How to play in today’s reality: A Q&A with Beverlie Dietze, Play Expert

Okanagan College Media Release

Play workshopSocial-distancing is the name of the game for all of us right now. But getting outside, whether it be in your backyard or your neighbourhood, when following the province’s guidance, remains an important way for us to keep moving says an Okanagan College outdoor play expert.

In early March, before the onset of COVID-19 halted such gatherings, the College hosted an outdoor play workshop alongside Outland Design and New Monaco in Peachland. This unique opportunity gave residents a chance to learn more about outdoor and unstructured play, and also gave children a chance to play with loose parts. The workshop also collected feedback from families and children on play preferences, including types of materials, activities and spaces.

With the emergence of COVID-19, the College’s Learning and Applied Research department has shifted its focus to facilitating connectivity for the College community. However, Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research and Education Technology at Okanagan College, recently took a few moments to share her perspective on the future of play, and how families can still stay connected and get outside.


Question 1: Can you tell us about the workshop the College hosted in early March in Peachland, and what it entailed?

Beverlie Dietze (BD): For the past five to seven years, across Canada, governments at all levels, health care providers, education and early childhood experts have expressed concerns about children’s lack of outdoor play and experiences with the concomitant increase in childhood obesity, mental health issues and related diseases.

Many national and international researchers recognize that there are a wide range of health benefits children gain from outdoor play. New Monaco, a land developer in Peachland is in the midst of creating a new neighbourhood that has woven healthy living into many aspects of the development, including the proposed park designs. Our community event was intended for Peachland residents and others to view the park space designs and provide feedback on them.

As well, children and families were invited to engage with the types of open-ended materials that will be promoted within the new park designs. The event brought families, educators, occupational therapists, playground designers, landscape architects, city planners and others to view how simple, open environments with loose parts can influence many hours of high-quality play and learning experiences for and with children. 


Question 2: For families who are struggling with being indoors more than they usually would right now, how can being outside benefit their health and wellbeing?

BD: Children’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development is influenced by their connections to nature. Children need nature, sun, space, and play. Outdoor play experiences are connected to later academic performance, health status, and care of the environment.

Outdoor play is where children can develop their ecological self. Children who have access to outdoor play on a daily basis exhibit lower stress levels, are fitter and leaner, have stronger immune systems reducing the number of colds, flus and related illnesses, have more active imaginations and communication skills, exhibit higher levels of curiosity which in turn influence their academic learning. Children who play outdoors have more self-confidence with peers, less bullying behaviours, and abilities to formulate relationships. Indoor environments do not provide children with these same opportunities and in some instances, will not address the developmental domains.

As Dr. Bonnie Henry has identified, being outdoors is important. We encourage families to go outdoors and play together as a family. Although other families are unable to join in the play, families can share ideas back and forth digitally about what they are doing with their children. For example, one family may decide to gather sticks from the nearby forest that children require to build a den. Other families may do the same and then share photos or have children facetime the other children as they build their den.

We understand that parents are navigating unprecedented waters alongside their children, and many parents are making the transition to working from home. We are all faced with challenges but there are opportunities to divest from screens and in this instance, parents can lead the charge. Instead, encourage children to use the “gadgets” such as their phones to find particular items in their neighbourhood – have families develop scavenger hunts in the neighbourhoods and share digitally with families for them to use.

Children who are not use to spending time outdoors may also need specific projects offered such as building bird houses and painting them. We need adults to be creative to connect their children to the outdoor spaces that do not violate social distancing.


Question 3: What benefits are there for kids and families with outdoor play?

BD: Think about the types of games children can play – what are those old-fashioned games that children may not have learned? What kinds of materials can the children use to create things with? What old electronics might be available for the children to take apart and make discoveries? The more children can engage in the outdoors with opportunities to seek vitamin D and movement, as well has the reduction of germs spreading from the indoors, the healthier they will be.


Question 4: How has technology changed the way families play?

BD: Many children have lost the skills of how to play. It is not only the technology that has eroded children’s play, it is all of the organized events that they partake in – swimming, ball, music lessons – etc. They don’t have free time now to just play – perhaps this is one of the rainbows that we can see in this situation. Bringing back outdoor play to children will be one of the most significant child development gifts we can give a child.


Question 5: How do we strike a balance between going outdoors and being active, yet maintaining and respecting the requirements and recommendations of our current reality? 

BD: Children and their families need to play together – but connect with other families electronically to share what kinds of play occurs. Think about the pleasure that seniors take from watching children play – another reason why we need to make children’s outdoor play visible.


As the College continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, resources are available to students, staff and faculty to promote connectivity, maintain learning and reduce feelings of isolation. One of those resources includes Blackboard Collaborate, which Learning and Applied Research is using to facilitate online classes. To date, there have been over 380 individual engagements on the platform, across a variety of departments on all four campuses. Blackboard Collaborate continues to extend the classroom setting to students, enabling the continuation of learning.

For creative ideas available to families, head here for a comprehensive list of websites offering alternative ways to play, from forts to puzzles, crafts and adventures.

To learn more about resources available at Okanagan College, go here.


Top marks for OC business students at Western Canadian Business Competition

Okanagan College Media Release


Before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on major events and gatherings in the province, Okanagan College’s School of Business students enjoyed a winning-weekend as home and host team at the Western Canadian Business Competition (WCBC) in Kelowna earlier this month.WCBC March 2020

Attracting eleven teams from seven different institutions across the province, it was OC students Kitty Le, Nelson Denby, Sloane Mazza, Josee Edgecombe alongside coach Dan Allen, who captured first place in the Senior Division of the Top Strategic Plan category. Students Chandler Barron and Mazza also placed first in the junior and senior Top Individual categories respectively, while the College’s senior team also tied for Top Team Spirit.

WCBC is a comprehensive undergraduate business competition that sees students contribute their knowledge and skills towards a simulated business scenario. The scenario is stretched out over a hypothetical multi-year timeline, and students are assigned sectors of the industry to look after: Finance, Operations, Marketing, Human Resources, with one student assigned as the Chief Executive Operator.

Mazza says of the competition, “WCBC taught us a lot over the last two weeks leading up to it and the 48 hours of work during. Our experience was a roller coaster of emotions with perseverance, hardships, success and great memories.”

Judging took place on the merit of each team’s overall strategic plan, their scores based on running their plan through real life scenarios, which ran over the course of the entire weekend, as well as their ability to convey results to the judges in a presentation.

Teams worked to strike a balance between their efforts in the strategic plan and working through the actual simulation, something Mazza notes was a challenging point of the weekend.

“We started off feeling good about our strategic plan but ended up at the bottom in the simulation. Despite it all, we made some great friendships with the junior team and other schools around B.C. Best strategic plan, placing third individually, winning team spirit and having one of our teammates win the top individual award really showcased the hard work we put into this competition. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Okanagan College School of Business professor Stacey Fenwick adds that, “it was a pleasure to host each of the 11 teams and students worked hard and were rewarded with ‘real world’ advice and mentoring from our community leaders who serve as judges for this event. I am so grateful for our community leaders, student volunteers and staff that make this competition so successful each year.”

Over the course of the weekend, 19 awards were given away, over the categories of Top Strategic Plan, Top Simulation Score, Top Individuals, Top Teams and Team Spirit. In addition to capturing the Strategic Plan and Individual Awards, the Okanagan College School of Business senior team tied for the Top Team Spirit, alongside the College of New Caledonia junior Team.

The competition would not be possible without the support of Interior Savings Credit Union and McDonalds, both sponsors for the event. For more information on the Western Canada Business Competition, go here.


Specialized Training Offered by Lillooet Tribal Council and Okanagan College

Okanagan College Media Release


The Community Adult Learning Centre in Lillooet, B.C., recently partnered with Okanagan College to offer the Introduction to Office Administration training program, a fast-track program designed to build essential office skills necessary to job readiness in the field.

Community consultation and local job vacancies highlighted a need for office administration. Yvonne LaRochelle, manager for the Community Adult Learning Centre, set out to close the gap between those in need of work and the office administration jobs available in her community.

LaRochelle has collaborated with Okanagan College in the past and was able to create a program that met community needs.

Melissa Roque March 2020Between September and December, 12 unemployed and underemployed members from Lillooet and the surrounding area completed a comprehensive program offering certificates in Computer Basics for Business and Basic Accounting as well as leadership skills training, math, essential skills and Sage 50, to name a few.

Melissa Roque completed the program in December. A Lillooet resident and former home-care coordinator, Roque experienced a workplace injury and needed training in a field that would be less physically taxing.

“The training offered me a newfound sense of confidence,” says Roque. Moving forward into her job search, Roque feels more competent with computer programs, accounting and communication strategies. “These skills compliment the ones I’ve developed over a dedicated career in home-care work and motivate me move beyond my injury.”

Roque had been taking courses through the Community Adult Learning Centre with the goal of obtaining her Adult Dogwood Diploma. This program was an opportunity to further challenge herself academically as well as open doors to future employment.

Since graduating, Roque has had several work opportunities and is excited about joining a new workplace. She plans to complete her Adult Dogwood Diploma and to contribute meaningfully to the community. She is especially grateful to her instructors for their genuine investment in the group’s success.

To celebrate the group’s achievement a graduation ceremony was held at the Community Centre at T’it’q’et on Dec. 20. The event featured guest speakers, drumming and a catered lunch. Students were invited to decorate their own tables and share in the celebration with their families.

The program included St’at’imc cultural workshops featuring traditional First Nations teachers, strategy workshops on success and conflict management, and other essential skills tutorials.

The Lillooet Tribal Council – Community Adult Learning centre received funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education’s Community Workforce Response Grant. The initiative supports skills training required to address both workforce challenges and emerging work opportunities.

Free tuition, books and supplies were included in the program. In addition, snacks and travel costs were covered. Learning resources and curriculum were provided by Okanagan College. The Community Adult Learning Centre provided onsite support throughout the program.

More information about the College’s Introduction to Office Administration training can be found at okanagan.bc.ca/cs.


OC student and printshop owner supports business community

Okanagan College Media Release


People helping others is a sign of the times, especially if Okanagan College student Bryan Carlton has anything to say about it.Snap Printing March 2020

In addition to studying part-time for his BBA, Carlton owns Snap Printing in Kelowna. Since the pandemic landed in North America, he found his clients in education, event management and business have either reduced hours, put projects on hold or cancelled events.

“I have a few clients who let me know how slow it was and wanted to see If I can do anything to possibly help them out. I figured banners were a quick and easy way to let potential clients know that the restaurant was open for carry-outs and deliveries,” he says, noting they’ve printed eight banners so far as of Wednesday morning and a few more lined up.

“Community is very important to Snap Printing. We have given to many charities and always tried to help them out with their printing needs.”

Carlton completed a Diploma in Business Administration from Grande Prairie Regional College before coming to the Okanagan in 2003. He established Snap Printing in 2011, growing from a home-based business into a cutting-edge digital and specialty printing business. Going back to school was just that next step in his growth.

“Times have changed and I just wanted to learn more about what is happening and how I can apply it to my business. Not to mention I have always felt a good business owner needs to be continuously educating himself in one way or another,” he says.

Management Principles (BUAD 123) Professor Laura Hetherington said it is no surprise that Carlton shifted to focus on other businesses.

“Bryan’s positive influence and compassion for others has been displayed throughout the term in our classroom, in-person and now virtually. His drive and ambition to continue to help our community at times like this demonstrates Bryan’s leadership qualities,” she says.

Restaurant owners looking for banners can provide him their business name, phone number and specifics on if they want carry-out or delivery/carry-out versions, by sending to [email protected] or calling 778-478-9553.

For Carlton, kindness can bind Kelowna together during these tough times.

“Support your local community, stay safe and we will get through this together,” he says.


Tom Budd sponsors health care tuition

Okanagan College Media Release

Local businessman and philanthropist Tom Budd is giving residents an opportunity to win free tuition toward a health care career at Okanagan College.

Budd, along with local radio stations Virgin Radio and Sun FM, are offering the contest called Wishin for Tuition across the Valley until April 12.

Residents can win up to $5,000 toward their tuition to one of any 10 Health Sciences programs at Okanagan College. The programs offered range from nursing to Early Childhood Education and Pharmacy Technician.

The prize money is coming from
a new fund Budd set up to honour his two sons, Payton and Dillon, who both lost their lives to suicide.

“The Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Fund’s primary focus is mental health,” explains Budd. “But our physical health is directly linked to our mental health, and so we have to take care of both.

“I’m proud to be able to help someone go to school and pursue a meaningful career caring for others.”

The tuition contest was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic as part of
Our Students, Your Health, the fundraising campaign behind the College’s new Health Sciences Centre, which is slated to open in September on the Kelowna campus. Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman says COVID-19 reinforces just how essential well trained health care professionals are.

“Tom’s gift is timely. Now more than ever we need quality health care professionals to care for our community, and the new Centre will provide a state-of-the-art regional training hub for those frontline health care workers,” says Jackman.

“We’re grateful that this contest will help not only a student pursue their dream but that student will go on to help countless community members who will be impacted by their care.”

To learn more about the contest and rules, visit any of these stations,
Virgin Radio Kelowna, Sun FM Vernon and Sun FM Penticton.


College Culinary Arts program drops off donation to food bank

Okanagan College Media Release


See a need, fill a need.Oudendag and Derrick March 2020

This is exactly what Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts department did earlier this week as culinary classes came to an unexpected halt in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tallying the vast amount of ingredients that would have been utilized in student labs and cafeteria plates, instructors gathered as much as they could and delivered it to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank. Initiated by Ross Derrick, interim Culinary Arts instructor and chef at Cod Fathers Market and Kelsey Oudendag, Culinary Arts instructor, the team loaded dairy products, vegetables and fruit onto pallets for transport.

“Once our department decided to donate the food, the process went so quickly,” says Oudendag. “All it took was one phone call to ensure they were accepting donations and within the hour we had dropped off two full pallets worth of fresh food including fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk. Without Ross generously donating the Cod Fathers delivery truck and his own time to drop off the food, we probably would have had to make multiple trips.

“Once we got to the foodbank, there were plenty of volunteers working hard to help unload and process donations safely. The whole process took about 10 minutes. They are operating in an extremely organized and efficient manner, all thanks to wonderful volunteers.”

Restaurants, hotels, and casinos throughout the Okanagan Valley and province find themselves in the same predicament. While many have been forced to close their doors and lay off employees, many businesses have also seized the opportunity to do something with food that otherwise would spoil.

“During this time of struggle, I’ve seen many people in our hospitality industry band together to support each other, whether it be with time, funds or food,” adds Oudendag. “I’m blown away at the adaptability and generosity in our community.”

The Central Okanagan Community Foodbank is still accepting donations from the public at their location at 2310 Enterprise Way.


College cancels remaining face-to-face classes while it completes the move to alternative delivery

Okanagan College Media Release

Effective Thursday, Okanagan College is cancelling any remaining face-to-face classes while it completes the move to alternative delivery as part of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than 90 per cent of academic classes have already been transitioned to an alternative form of delivery this week. Classes still being delivered in a face-to-face format will be cancelled for Thursday and Friday in order to provide instructors and professors more time to complete plans to move fully to alternative forms of delivery.

“The vast majority of our classes have already transitioned to alternative forms of classroom delivery. As you can imagine, given the diversity of programs we offer, this was no easy task for our faculty and staff,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“We continue to work on creative ways to deliver trades training programming, especially shops, following guidance from the Provincial Health Officer. We have already postponed more than 20 planned intakes of trades programs that were to start in the next few weeks.”

Okanagan College students currently on practicum placements can continue those placements unless advised by OC. The College is working with practicum providers to carefully assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to moving classes to alternative forms of delivery, the College is also providing many services for students online to ensure continuity of services.

While campuses and in-person services remain open, students are encouraged to utilize these alternative forms of service delivery where possible to encourage social distancing.

“Many of our student services are already available online and others are transitioning to ensure students feel supported while not on campus, such as counselling and accessibility services,” says Hamilton. “We know this is a stressful and uncertain time for students, as it is for all, and so we’re going to be taking a look at every way we can provide support and help students face whatever challenges they’re encountering as the situation unfolds.”

The College is also communicating out to employees means and opportunities for them to work from home, while maintaining those critical supports to students and other services to keep the institution functioning.

The College will continue to communicate directly with students, and updates will also be posted to the College’s COVID-19 information page, www.okanagan.bc.ca/covid.


OC Course Helps Make Sense of “Fake News”

Okanagan College Media Release


The term “fake news” came to the public’s attention during the 2016 American presidential campaign and today, as the U.S. heads into another election cycle, the potential impacts are hard to ignore.

But is fake news a new phenomenon? How does it differ from propaganda? And is there any way to defeat it?Henczel and Fratilou March 2020

Okanagan College instructor Edward Henczel has spent 20 years working as a journalist around North America and Dr. Raluca Fratiloiu has studied the phenomena since her time in Communist-era Romania where she was surrounded by fake news and propaganda.

Together, they will deliver a two-part series at Okanagan College exploring the past, present and future of this ongoing problem.

Fake News: From Yellow Journalism to orange politicians is part of the Fascinating Intellectual Topics series that began last fall at Okanagan College. The series is comprised of two-day sessions that cover a range of subjects sharing a central theme of global citizenship.

“It’s been said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on and a 2016 study by the Pew Research Groups shows this is still true in the age of social media,” said Henczel.

Come prepared to explore ways to spot fake news and learn how others are detecting and debunking it. Bring a phone, tablet or a laptop for each class, as we will engage in some critical digital media analysis together.

The course will take place April 21 and 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.


Campus-to-Campus half marathon cancelled

Sunday, March 15 – Today, Okanagan College and the University of British Columbia Okanagan announce that the campus-to-campus half marathon and celebration scheduled for Saturday, April 4 has been cancelled.

This decision follows the recommendations made by the B.C. Ministry of Health on March 12, which advise event organizers to cancel all events and gatherings of 250 people or more, in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

“While we are saddened to have to delay the resurgence of the run, it’s absolutely paramount to us to put the health and safety of OC and UBCO students, employees, volunteers and community members first,” said Tyler Finley, event co-organizer and Manager of Marketing and Communications for Okanagan College.

Adds Finley: “We are hopeful that the campus to campus will return in future, although we can’t speculate right now on when that will happen. Thank you to all of the students, staff and community partners who provided input, time and expertise in the planning for this event. We were overwhelmed by the positive response from our internal communities at both institutions and the external community to bringing back this great collaborative event.”

The organizing committee will be working to issue refunds to ticket-holders as soon as possible.

For those registrants who are interested, there will be the option to donate your refund to a fund for bursaries and scholarships for OC and UBCO students.

For information and current status of classes, services and events at the College, visit OC’s COVID-19 updates page here.


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