Power Engineer Awards 2019

Power Engineer Awards 2019

GPRC Power Engineer Instructor, Ron Dennis accepts his Education Contribution Award from PanGlobal Training Systems on June 19.

Long-time GPRC power engineer instructor Ron Dennis was honoured by his peers from across the country with an Education Contribution Award from PanGlobal Training Systems.

PanGlobal Training Systems is the leading publisher of paper and web-based technical learning materials designed specifically for trades and energy technologies.

The Education Contribution Award recognizes educators and industry professionals for their contributions to excellence in power engineering.

Dennis received his award Wednesday, June 19 at the Interprovincial Power Engineering Curriculum Committee conference in Fredericton.

In addition to Dennis’s awards, two GPRC students were also recognized at the conference. Luke Hamre received second place and Dustin Blagborne received an honourable mention for the Outstanding Achievement Student Award – Power Engineer 4th Class.

Dennis is retiring from GPRC this month after a long teaching career at the College. Chris Laue, Dean, School of Trades, Agriculture and the Environment said Dennis’s award is “well-deserved recognition for his years of dedication to GPRC students.”

At last year’s awards ceremonies, GPRC power engineer instructor Jerry Chik received an Education Contribution Award and students Shane Drummond and Andrei Tchernyi received first and second respectively for the Outstanding Achievement Student Award – Power Engineer 4th Class. Paul Biegel also received an honourable mention for Outstanding Achievement Student Award – PE 3rd Class.

GPRC volunteers care for evacuees’ furry family members

Some of the GPRC faculty and staff who helped look after the evacuated animals Tiffany Duncan, Katey Johnston, Lin Roy, Bonnie Danielson, Dr. Chris Mizzi, Lisa Coady, Carl Ball, Rhonda Shaw, and Shannon Ball.

GPRC’s Fairview campus became home for some important members of families evacuated from northwestern Alberta due to wildfires.

First year Animal Health Technology student Dayna McKay who is living on campus during the summer is lending a hand.

The College’s Animal Health Technology program put out the call offering to house any animals for displaced families shortly after the mandatory evacuations started in northwestern Alberta. A few days later, when the Town of Manning was placed under evacuation notice, the local veterinary clinic reached out to ask GPRC to look after the animals it had been housing for evacuees.

“We wanted to make sure the animals were safe somewhere else,” said Kaitie Koch, manager of the Manning Veterinary Clinic.

Shaylene Syrota, RVT, Educational Lab Technologist AHT – Animal Sciences Department and Dr. Christy Barlund, DVM – Instructor – Animal Sciences Department were two of the faculty and staff volunteers.

The clinic had already housed animals from families evacuated from High Level for about 10 days.

When the animals arrived on campus, GPRC’s animal health faculty and staff did an amazing job, said Koch.

“They were incredibly helpful and knew what exactly needed to be done,” she said.

Over the course of the evacuation notice, GPRC housed a total of 11 dogs, one cat and one hamster. The program faculty and staff continued any treatments the animals needed and monitored them daily to ensure they were doing well, explained Rhonda Shaw, Animal Health Technology instructor.

The animals were weighed in and weighed out, had their appetite and attitude monitored daily, and were fed and walked twice a day. The dogs all got time to run in the College’s round pen.

Volunteers would send videos and pictures of the animals to their owners so the owners knew their pets were doing OK. Volunteers hoped the photos would help reduce some of the stress the evacuees were experiencing.

“We were grateful to be able to provide some comfort by having the evacuees know their animals were safe and well cared for,” said Shaw.

Lin Roy, Program Assistant – Animal Sciences Department and Rhonda Shaw, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department with the first evacuee heading home.

Jill Gaudet’s dog Spike was one of the animals that were cared for by GPRC staff on the Fairview campus.

“I have to thank Manning Veterinary for ensuring Spike was safe by taking him to Fairview,” said Gaudet. “And thanks to GPRC for taking care of Spike. During a very stressful time, it is a relief to know your pet is safe and well-cared for.”

Marcella Parenteau was also evacuated from Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement and her dog Lolly was at GPRC Fairview.

“I’m so grateful,” said Parenteau. “Being evacuated was very stressful and scary, and having Lolly looked after in Manning and then in Fairview was a relief for me. Thank you for watching her for me.”

Volunteer students, faculty and staff at the Fairview campus provided all this help. They even had a waitlist of people wanting to volunteer.

Cathy Srayko, Toolroom attendant motorcycle certificate program donated five bags of dog food to send home with evacuees when they pick their pets up.

“Staff have been amazing. We had an abundance of people helping,” said Shaw.

All the volunteers received a mini-training session before they had contact with animals.

“You were there for us in our time of need,” said Koch. “We really, really appreciated it. We know how much work it is to look after that number of animals. It took a huge stress and worry off our plate.”

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped feed, water, walk and play with the animals in our care:

  • Lin Roy, Program Assistant – Animal Sciences Department
  • Lisa Coady, Program Assistant – Motorcycle & Recreational Powersports Department
  • Katey Johnston, RVT, Educational Lab Technologist AHT – Animal Sciences Department
  • Shaylene Syrota, RVT, Educational Lab Technologist AHT – Animal Sciences Department
  • Rhonda Shaw, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
  • Shannon Ball, Toolroom Attendant – Automotive, Parts, & Engineering Department
  • Carl Ball – Instructor – Motorcycle & Recreational Powersports Department
  • Tiffany Duncan, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
  • Bonnie Danielson, RVT, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
  • Chris Mizzi, DVM, Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
  • Christy Barlund, DVM – Instructor – Animal Sciences Department
  • Dayna McKay, first year AHT student
  • Taryn Dodds, first year AHT student


GPRC Animal Health Technology Staff make sure the animals the college housed on the Fairview campus get to spend plenty of time outside.

Animal Health Technology students make the news

Have a read or give a listen to GPRC’s Animal Health Technology students’ work feature in local media.

Samantha Shirley, top left, Jaime Kuckuk, top right and Hayley Graham standing in front.

Students Samantha Shirley, Jaime Kuckuk and Hayley Graham appeared on Kix FM radio in Peace River about the work GPRC does with the Peace Regional SPCA. Check out the interview

Their fellow students Quinn Assinger, Stefanie Neukom and Dayna Faye Mckay also highlighted the benefits of adopting animals in their article that was published in the Fairview Post.

Quinn Assinger, Stefanie Neukom and Dayna Faye Mckay.

You can read it here:


The desire to become a Registered Veterinary Technologist (RVT) often stems from the wish to help, care for and save as many animals as possible. Coming to the GPRC Animal Health Technology program in Fairview has made many of us more aware of this desire.

GPRC students work closely with the Peace Regional SPCA (PRSPCA) to increase the adoptability of their dogs. For students  we have the opportunity to learn appropriate and accurate ways of handling all kinds of amazing animals.

Peace Regional SPCA already does a remarkable job of caring and finding homes for all their rescues. In 2018, it had more than 500 cats and dogs come through their door. Each animal is given their basic needs of life: food, water, love, and any medical treatment they need prior to finding their forever homes.

The staff at PRSPCA are trained to be able to place any and all kinds of animals into appropriate homes that will benefit both the future owner and the animal.

They have come to know and understand these animals and they have the knowledge to inform you whether or not they believe that the animal in question will make a good addition to your family.

When you adopt an animal from the SPCA you are giving that animal a chance at a good, loving home. Additionally you are helping to break the cycle of overpopulation often seen with mass breeding.

Often people get caught up in puppies and kittens, however, adopting an adult or almost full grown dog or cat from a shelter can give you optimal insight into their behaviour, size, energy levels and many other important aspects of your future pet.

A dog or cat adopted from the PRSPCA is microchipped, vaccinated, dewormed and spayed/neutered before they’re adopted out, these things are included in the adoption fee, so often you see more value in adopting rather than purchasing a puppy or kitten from a pet store or private breeder.

First year students in the Animal Health Technology program, come to know and love many of the animals who have come from the shelter, and many of us have wanted to adopt these animals.

We urge anyone who is contemplating on a new addition to their family, to look into their local shelter, like the Peace Regional SPCA.

Great work by our AHT  students!

Learning by Doing: GPRC Instructor Gifts his Students Axolotl Eggs for Study

Learning by Doing: GPRC Instructor Gifts his Students Axolotl Eggs for Study

Besides the students, staff, and faculty who frequent it, GPRC Fairview campus is also home to a group of unusual residents. If you attend this campus, you’ve probably noticed them in fish tanks in the offices and classrooms: tiny, aquatic salamanders known as axolotls, whose unique biological properties make them the perfect subjects of study for animal health students.

Dr. Chris Mizzi, Animal Sciences instructor at GPRC, has been breeding and raising the amphibious creatures as a hobby for around twenty years. He first became interested in the axolotl when his university chemistry instructor introduced him to them. “It kind of started my fascination with amphibians,” Mizzi said. “I’ve been involved with them ever since.”

An axolotl egg rests in a jar of water.

Students in Dr. Mizzi’s classes are always offered the opportunity to care for axolotl eggs during the two- to four-week incubation period. Mizzi notes that the students would probably never otherwise get an opportunity to see the rare creature up close. Axolotls are of special interest to the medical research community for their regenerative properties. “They can regenerate most of their body parts,” explained Mizzi. “If they get a leg cut off, they can regrow it. Eyeballs, parts of their liver – they can even heal their own spinal cord.”

Axolotls are also excellent case studies for embryotic development. “The eggs are so large you can actually see them develop with the naked eye,” said Mizzi, adding that the transparent membrane allows a clear window to the inner workings of the egg. “I’ve seen them change from one cell to two cells to four cells. You can see them form gills and the head and you can just watch everything.” Because most organisms go through a similar process in utero, studying axolotl eggs can teach students a lot about fetal development.

A young axolotl. So cute!

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen these guys,” said Kaytlin Evans, first year Animal Sciences student. “They started out looking like a tiny little bean. Now they’ve developed gills on the side of their face. Yesterday I noticed them moving.” Evans values the opportunity to work with an axolotl up close: “It’s a great experience to be able to deal with different types of animals, especially amphibians and reptiles. I hope to specialize in exotics, so this was a good learning experience.”

First year animal health student Kaytlin Evans (left) holds submerged axolotl eggs next to classmate Kaylee Shmyruk.
From the Road to the Classroom: GPRC Instructors Share their Experiences with Professional Leave

From the Road to the Classroom: GPRC Instructors Share their Experiences with Professional Leave

Two GPRC instructors shared their Professional Leave experiences with staff and faculty on Friday. Business Administration instructor Cibylla Rakestraw and Electrical instructor Charles Sanderson have both returned from twelve months of sabbatical leave, time that was mostly dedicated to research, travel, and rejuvenation.

Business Administration instructor Cibylla Rakestraw and Electrical instructor Charles Sanderson spoke at GPRC on Friday on their research done during their Professional Leaves last year.

Sanderson’s leave was spent researching solar power optimization. He has been interested in the topic ever since he began working with Dr. Weixing Tan on his Pollutants to Products research initiative more than a decade ago. “The whole premise of my sabbatical was to see if we could do this research [carbon capture with microalgae]—all the pumps, the refrigeration, the computer work—using solar energy, so that we were carbon neutral in our research for GPRC,” he explained. “The sun gives us about 1000 watts per square metre, but our best solar panels are only about 18–22 per cent efficient. So if we could harness the thermal energy for all of our heating loads, that may be more efficient.”

GPRC Electrical instructor Charles Sanderson presenting his research.

According to Sanderson, training electricians in today’s world may mean preparing them for a career in solar energy. “Because of this economy, we’re seeing some individuals who have steady jobs in oil and gas looking to see if they can move into [solar],” he said. Sanderson believes research he has done over the past year will inform his teaching and help him prepare his students for the future of the energy industry.

While Sanderson studied the efficiency of solar panels, Cibylla Rakestraw spent her leave in part developing a co-op internship opportunity for Business Administration students. Participants in the new course will complete a 420-hour internship between May and August where they will learn on-the-job skills while earning a pay cheque. “I think it will do lots of wonderful things for the students,” said Rakestraw. “It will help them to really get clear in terms of their career objectives. And then when they are finished with their studies, they go to the employer with some relevant experience – they’re not coming in totally green.” The program will pilot next summer.

Rakestraw has also been developing an optional study tour course, where students in the business administration program will have the opportunity to travel to places like New York, Panama, and China as part of their coursework. Her other two projects involved transitioning one business entrepreneurship course to an online format and making improvements to another online course.

Rakestraw and Sanderson both say that their Professional Leave has made them better instructors. Rakestraw valued the time she had to rest and rejuvenate while she studied.  “I’m feeling like I’ve got a lot more to contribute,” she said, adding that she will now be able to bring “a lot of richness” to her courses. Sanderson agreed, and added that his leave has given him the opportunity to become a part of something bigger. “For renewable energy, the door is opening,” he said. “It’s going to be happening, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

GPRC Business Administration instructor Cibylla Rakestraw presenting her research.