Niagara College faculty and staff shine with two Minister’s Awards of Excellence

When it comes to making education more inclusive and supporting the community, Niagara College is earning recognition for leading the way.

On February 6, NC staff and faculty members won two Awards of Excellence from the Minister of Colleges and Universities. A team of staff behind the College’s open-source, digital Accessibility Hub, was presented with an award in the Equality of Opportunity category for creating opportunities for marginalized or underrepresented groups. Also honoured was Chef Professor Olaf Mertens, who was presented with an Everyday Heroes award for stepping up and making a difference through his leadership of NC’s Feed the Community initiative.

“Niagara College is incredibly proud to see the extraordinary work of our staff and faculty being celebrated with a Minister’s Award of Excellence,” said NC President Sean Kennedy. “The provincial recognition of Chef Olaf Mertens and the collaborative team behind the Accessibility Hub are shining examples of excellence in teaching and learning at NC.”

The Minister’s Awards of Excellence recognize the exceptional performance of faculty, staff and graduate students from colleges, universities, private career colleges and Indigenous Institutes in Ontario who made a difference to the lives of students, to their communities and to the entire province during the 2021-22 academic year.

Niagara College’s two awards were among 22 selected out of more than 540 nominations received.

Equality of Opportunity: Accessibility Hub

Launched in the spring of 2022, the Accessibility Hub was designed for educators and non-educators alike to build accessibility-first habits into all aspects of their work.

Enabled by a $230,000 grant from the Virtual Learning Strategy, an eCampus Ontario-led initiative, the NC team developed over 55 articles, checklists, videos, and resources with straight-forward recommendations for those seeking to simplify the creation of accessible web content, learning materials, and experiences for students or anyone with a disability. The stories of NC students and recent alumni with lived experiences of disability are shared throughout the site.

“A great deal of hard work and collaboration was behind the Accessibility Hub, a testament to Niagara College staff and faculty who drive our continuous efforts to make inclusive teaching and learning a priority,” said NC’s Vice-President, Academic Fiona Allan. “It is thrilling to see their skills and talents recognized provincially.”

The developers behind the Accessibility Hub are a group of provincially and nationally recognized experts including staff from NC’s Centre for Academic Excellence, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, and Marketing and Student Recruitment departments. Members of the cross-functional team include Whit Ross, Educational Developer; Courtney Thaggard, Web and Digital Developer; Jim McEwen, Adaptive Technology Specialist; Lynn O’Keeffe, Instructional Designer; Sarah LoConte, Web and Digital Developer; Natasha Patrito Hannon, Director, Teaching and Learning Innovation; Shelley Panetta, Director, Marketing; Karen Csoli, Director, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, Welland Campus; and Jay Burdon, Director, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, Daniel J. Patterson Campus.

On Feb. 6, Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, presented the Equality of Opportunity award virtually to Ross and Thaggard, who accepted the award on behalf of the team.

Designed as a template with flexibility in mind, all materials in the Accessibility Hub are openly licensed. Since the launch, the Accessibility Hub has been adopted, adapted, and repurposed by several post-secondary organizations across the province to improve the accessibility of their professional communications, events, and courses. Accessibility Hub content has also formed the basis for a new Accessibility in Action! program at NC for employee professional development centered on best practices for teaching and learning environments.

Visit the Niagara College Accessibility Hub to learn more:

Niagara College’s Natasha Hannon (left), Director, Teaching and Learning Innovation, and Courtney Thaggard, Web and Digital Developer were part of the NC team behind the Accessibility Hub who won a Minister’s Award of Excellence at the February 6 ceremony.

Everyday Heroes: Chef Professor Olaf Mertens (Feed the Community)

Since 2021, students, faculty and staff from Niagara College’s School of Culinary Arts have been making a difference through Feed the Community, an initiative that helps those in need while boosting sustainability on campus, ensuring that no food goes to waste.

Feed the Community addresses food insecurity and supports health and wellness in the community. Fresh, healthy meals are prepared, packaged and transported to area shelters and food banks, as well as the Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton on a rotating basis. Some meals have also been provided to students living in on-campus residences.

Led by Chef Professor Olaf Mertens, who has been instrumental to organizing the initiative and to its ongoing delivery – the initiative relies on the dedication of a team of volunteers comprised of Mertens as well as other chef professors, culinary students and staff. The volunteers use top-quality products left from the kitchen labs and connect with shelters to transport meals to those who need them.

“Facing the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, Chef Olaf Mertens went above and beyond, making a difference in the learning of Niagara College students and inspiring the next generation of culinary graduates to contribute to their community in a meaningful way,” said Allan.

Approximately 5,000 meals were donated to shelters and food banks through Feed the Community from 2021 to December 2022. So far this year, approximately 800 individual meals have been donated through the initiative, which continues to expand its reach as part of a new academic-based foodservice model from NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division.

“I feel humbled and grateful, as it is not about being recognized but I hope to use the recognition to start a college wave or ripple effect to have others give to our neighborhood communities as our students apply their learning and skills,” said Mertens. “This gives me the boost to increase the effect the program has and get more donations for funding and next steps.”

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


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Jessica Torok
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Julie Greco
Communications Consultant
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[email protected]

Wine vs. beer student showdown on the table for College dinner event

Niagara College’s wine and beer students continue their battle for supremacy – along with a trophy and bragging rights – with the return of one of NC’s most anticipated dining events: Caps, Corks and Forks.

The sold-out dinner event will draw 200 guests to the College on February 4 to savour offerings from the College’s School of Culinary Arts, and School of Wine, Beer and Spirits. Celebrity Chef Michael Smith will be the event’s Master of Ceremonies.

“Caps Corks and Forks is back and so am I,” said Chef Smith. “Team Wine versus Team Beer. Who will reign supreme? Either way, the students!”

This will mark Round 16 for the popular dinner event, hosted by NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division. The sold-out event marks the highly anticipated return of the first full-capacity Caps, Corks and Forks since 2020.

“Caps, Corks and Forks is one of the most asked-about events that we host,” said Dean of NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division Craig Youdale. “It gives our guests a taste of the world-class education we offer at NC and the passion that our students are developing for their industries, and it’s a fun, cross-collaborative and engaging event for our students to be involved with.”

Guests will enjoy an elegant five-course meal prepared by culinary students, led by Chef Professors Tony DeLuca and Kyle Landry. While the food takes centre stage, wine and beer students vie to steal the spotlight. Each course becomes a battleground for the most votes in the friendly competition between the College’s wine and beer students.

Two beverages will accompany each course – one from Team Wine and one from Team Beer, carefully selected after months of preparation from across Ontario. As culinary students work behind the scenes, students from Team Wine and Team Beer will be in the heart of the action – pouring, serving and introducing their team’s pairings. Guests will vote on their preferred beverage pairing after each course –with a cap (beer) or a cork (wine). After votes are counted, the winner is announced at the end of the evening.

In this round of Caps, Corks and Forks, each beverage selection will be from Ontario. Students were also encouraged to use NC’s student-made products as much as possible.

Team Wine is made up of seven first-year Winery and Viticulture Technician students who plan to pour one wine from the NC Teaching Winery and four from other Niagara VQA wineries.

Professor Gavin Robertson, who co-leading Team Wine with College Winemaker Allison Findlay, noted that participating gives students experience with beverage pairings, as well as public speaking and marketing skills.

“It is a really high-pressure situation, as it is an enormous crowd, and they only have a couple minutes to make their case for each pairing,” said Robertson. “It’s incredible that the students are even willing to talk about a beverage that many of them knew nothing about when they started the program in September. By pulling this off, they gain a confidence that will stand them in good stead throughout the rest of their studies and in the industry as successful grads.”

First-year Winery and Viticulture Technician student Kayla Brown will be among students addressing the crowd to promote her team’s selections at the event.

“To prepare, I am putting together a two-minute speech that introduces myself and provides insights into why we chose a specific wine for the course,” she said. “This involves doing some more research into the producer of the wine we chose so we can provide enough details to the guests to ensure they can fully appreciate the pairing we made.”

Second-year Brewmaster student Nathaniel Perreault is among seven Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management students on Team Beer. He values the chance to explore an area of fine dining food pairing that is greatly underrepresented in the brewing industry.

“Most people think of pizza, wings and pub grub as appropriate beer pairings; which they are, but we believe beer also has a place in fine dining,” he said. “We can create a wide range of flavours and mouthfeel to complement the dishes with our array of malts, hops, and yeast strains.

“Discovering unique pairings between food and beer using drastically different styles has been very rewarding,” he said.

For Brewmaster students, the event corresponds with their learning experience in the program. In addition to brewing five different brews to potentially serve at the event, students learn about the art and science of pairing food and beverage in class. Participants benefit by gaining experience in real-world service and sales.

“Presenting their pairings is an exercise in salesmanship and storytelling,” said Victor North, who is co-leading the team with fellow Brewmaster faculty Adrian Popowycz. “It is also a kind of public speaking exercise: they have to be able to take the kind of theory that they discuss in class, translate it into something compelling and comprehensible to a dinnertime audience, and then compress it into a brief ‘elevator pitch’ that will be sticky and successful.”

Caps, Corks and Forks involves students from various programs. Students from the School of Hospitality and Tourism will serve the meal, Artisan Distilling students have crafted signature cocktail for a pre-dinner reception, and Baking and Pastry Arts students will prepare dessert.

“This entire event truly delivers the richest possible educational experience for the student volunteers,” said Maija Saari, Associate Dean for the Division. “It is so exciting to watch them become actively engaged in a project that brings so many puzzle pieces together in a such a real-world application of their knowledge and skills. It is an interdisciplinary project of the highest order that is not only a delight to celebrate. It is also delicious!”

Since Caps Corks and Forks launched in 2012, Team Wine has won eight rounds while Team Beer has won seven.

The sold-out event will be held on the evening of February 4 at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Information about upcoming events from NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division is available at or NC Culinary Services Facebook page.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


TOP PHOTO A group of culinary, wine and beer students gather on a menu tasting night, held in mid-January, in preparation for Caps, Corks and Forks.


Media inquires, please contact:


Julie Greco
Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-328-2532
[email protected]

Niagara College to receive $100,000 in funding from Bell Let’s Talk to create a Student Mental Health and Well-Being Framework

Niagara College (NC) is pleased to announce that it will receive $100,000 in funding over two years from the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund in support of its development and implementation of a Mental Health and Well-Being Framework.

Led by a new Mental Health and Well-Being Working Group, the College will align the National Standard for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students and the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace into a single Framework that reflects NC’s vision and values while supporting both staff and students with mental health supports.

“We are extremely grateful to Bell and the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund for not only supporting the mental health of post-secondary students but for also helping to support systemic change of mental health supports,” said Rick Anderson, Vice-President Student Affairs. “The entire College community shares the responsibility for the mental health and well-being of its students. This new Framework will support our ongoing work of proactively supporting students with workplace goals that strengthen the ability of NC employees to respond.”

This funding will allow Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services (HWAS) to complete Phase Two and Three of the College’s adoption of the National Standard which will include the facilitation of consultations with students, faculty and staff who have diverse lived experiences including international, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQIA+, and BIPOC students. Funding will also be used to create and execute knowledge-building campaigns to increase awareness of mental health supports, reduce stigma and create a culture of understanding and action that more effectively supports student mental health and well-being.

Phase One of the project began in 2021 with a review of the mental health supports that were currently in place at the College.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to provide a $100,00 Post Secondary Fund grant to develop a Mental Health and Well-Being Framework for students at Niagara College,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “Bell Let’s Talk is committed to continuing to support student mental health and well-being to create positive change for mental health.”

“A thriving community is one that supports the mental health and well-being of its members, and the development of NC’s Mental Health and Well-Being Framework will provide our staff, students and faculty with the tools and resources they need to support each other and those dealing with mental health issues,” said Karen Csoli, Director, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, Welland Campus.

This work will complement the mental health supports already available to staff and students at the College. These supports include HWAS supports, the HEADSTRONG Mental Health Summit, Mental Health First Aid training and the Centre for Professional and Organizational Development’s Queen’s Workplace Mental Health Leadership Certificate Program.

Niagara College’s Mental Health and Well-Being Framework is scheduled to be completed in October 2024.

To date, Bell Let’s Talk has awarded over $5 million in grants to Canadian post-secondary institutions, starting with more than $3 million in initial grants to over 125 schools in early 2021. This year, Niagara College has received the maximum amount of grant money available to one institution.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at

Media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney De Caire
Communications Consultant
Niagara College
[email protected]

Niagara College ranks No. 1 research college in Ontario, No. 2 in Canada

For the eighth year in a row, Niagara College ranks among the top 10 colleges in the country for research funding, according to a special report released on January 25.

Niagara College has earned the No. 2 spot in Canada as a top research college, and the No. 1 spot in Ontario. Since Research Infosource Inc. first published its Top 50 Research Colleges report in 2013, NC has been in the top 15 consistently.

In its report, Canada’s Innovation Leaders, Research Infosource Inc. announced the rankings based on total research funding numbers for 2021. The publication includes a national study, “Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges,” which shows NC’s steady placement in the top 10 for eight consecutive years and among the top 15 for 10 years – including a No. 1 ranking in Canada in 2019.

“I am so proud that Niagara College continues to receive recognition as one of Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “We are thrilled to earn the second-highest rank in the country and the No. 1 spot in Ontario.

“The expansion of our research and innovation capabilities has been a priority for the College, and today’s announcement is a testament to the important work of our Research & Innovation team to provide real-world solutions for industry and the community through applied research.”

Representatives from the Niagara College Research & Innovation division gather in the courtyard at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake during the summer of 2022.

Among colleges with applied research funding in Canada, NC earned the second-highest spot by attracting more than $18.1 million in funding to conduct innovative projects with industry partners in the food and beverage, advanced manufacturing, horticulture and the environment, and business sectors.

NC also moved up one place from last year’s standing to the No. 1 spot, in the category of completed research projects, with a total of 228, while NC’s total number of research partnerships was 190.

Marc Nantel, PhD, Vice-President, Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises at the College, stated that being in the top 10 for the eighth year is a continued source of pride for NC’s Research & Innovation division.

“This announcement is something about which we truly thrilled, and we have to thank the outstanding effort of our staff, faculty, and students who work on projects with industry partners to drive meaningful outcomes,” said Nantel.

Research funding allows the College to partner with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region to conduct projects and services, which provide innovative solutions for industry, including producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products and processes. NC Research & Innovation conducts applied research, technical services and business and commercialization solutions with industry partners through its Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre, Food & Beverage Innovation Centre, Horticultural & Environmental Sciences Innovation Centre, and Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

SoilOptix®, a high-definition top-soil mapping company based in Ontario, uses precision agriculture technology to help farmers understand and improve the distribution of nutrient and texture in their fields. SoilOptix® is now in a position of obtaining global reach with its technology, in part due to their collaboration with the NC research team through precision agriculture, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and data automation, which created process efficiencies of immense proportions and a user-friendly interface for customers.

Before working with NC experts, a previous process used by SoilOptix® took a data analyst about eight hours of work. Now, it takes less than an hour, increasing its efficiency by a factor of eight. The NC team is helping to get this down to seconds while expanding the technology and data automation abilities.

SoilOptix® team member drives a cab in the field analyzing the customer portal on a tablet that NC’s HESIC team helped program.

The College partnership has enabled the company to grow rapidly in several directions. For example, in 2019, the company was able to map about 110,000 acres; in 2022, it mapped about 500,000 acres, and its 2023 targets are set for approximately 800,000 acres. SoilOptix® has been able to almost double the volume of acres which generate revenue, year-over-year, by a factor of two, or 5.6 per cent growth by month – an uncommon growth pattern for many businesses.

NC graduates are benefitting from the partnership as well. To date, SoilOptix® has hired six graduates right out of school to continue working on the project.

“One of our best kept secrets to our success has been this working relationship with Niagara College. We have found it very rewarding, not only from the sophisticated systems that the student teams have developed, but to the extent of the real-life working opportunities and experiences we have provided for them. The success has been so strong that it has carried to us to the opportunity to hiring several students full-time,” said Paul Raymer, SoilOptix® Co-founder and President.

TOP PHOTO: Brock Husak, Laboratory Technologist with NC’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, sets up a Fortus 900 3D print machine for an industry partner.

Research Infosource annually compiles listings of the Top 50 research universities, corporate R&D spenders, and research hospitals. This is the seventh year a list has been released for the Top 50 research colleges in Canada. For more information on the Top 50 list, visit

NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division administers research funding support from various regional, provincial and federal agencies. Students and graduates are hired to work alongside faculty researchers and assist industry partners with leaping forward in the marketplace. Students come from a variety of the College’s programs, such as the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Culinary Innovation and Food Technology, Business Administration – Marketing, and Computer Programmer.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at

Research & Innovation videos

Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre: Niagara College helps aerospace company embrace the future of new technology:

Food & Beverage Innovation Centre – Restaurant teams up with Research & Innovation to launch product for retail sale:


Media inquires, please contact:

Julie Greco
Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-328-2532
[email protected]


College Performance Therapy clinic opens to community clients

Physiotherapy and in-demand pediatric Fine Motor Skills Development program available

The reopening of Niagara College’s Performance Therapy Clinic at the Welland Campus is a leap forward for students seeking experience in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, as well as community clients seeking treatment.

The Performance Clinic, which reopened at the College’s Welland Campus on January 16 for the first time since 2020, offers physiotherapy assessments and treatment sessions at a reduced cost for staff, students and the public, as well as an in-demand occupational therapy pediatric fine motor skills occupational therapy program for local residents, expected to help alleviate wait times in the community.

This learning enterprise from NC’s School of Allied Health, provides hands-on, on-site experience for students in NC’s Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant (OTA and PTA) program and opportunities to complete their required work placement hours (500 placement hours are required to graduate from the academic program).

“The Performance Clinic enables us to use our College expertise and state of the art equipment to serve the community while enhancing learning opportunities for our students,” said Eva Lemak. “We are thrilled to be able to provide physiotherapy and OT services at reduced costs, and to offer an option for Niagara children and their families who have been facing long wait lists, often for more than two years, for occupational therapy to develop fine motor skills.”

OTA-PTA program faculty Kelly Martindale (Physiotherapist) and Sarah Cole (Occupational Therapist) lead the initiative. They conduct client assessments at the clinic and work with students and staff to provide treatment. Graduates of the OTA and PTA program have recently been hired to work at the clinic and to provide treatments.

Performance Clinic staff James Monterosso demonstrates a shockwave treatment for students observing at the clinic.


Lead Physiotherapist and Professor Kelly Martindale performs initial client assessments and creates treatment plans for clients which are carried out by Physiotherapist Assistants and students.

Starting this year, all first-year OTA-PTA students will have an opportunity to rotate through the clinic and observe how it operates, while second-year OTA and PTA students may apply for a placement position at the clinic. Students who are selected for placements at the clinic will have an opportunity to demonstrate hands-on clinical skills with patients under a Physiotherapist’s supervision.

“This is an amazing opportunity for students to experience what it is like to work in a multidisciplinary clinic,” said Martindale. “Not only will it build their hands on clinical skills, but also their time management, documentation and communication skills.”

Martindale noted that the College community is poised to benefit.

“The clinic is convenient for staff and students to come on their breaks or before/after work and is covered by their extended health benefits,” she said. “It is beneficial for patients that do not have coverage or have limited coverage as the fee is reduced.”

OTA and PTA Professor Kelly Martindale (left) stands with Clinic staff James Monterosso (third from right) and a group of OTA and PTA students on opening day of the Performance Clinic at the Welland Campus.

Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapy side of the Performance Clinic offers a six-week Fine Motor Skills Development program.

This program targets the pediatric age group and focuses on developing fine motor skills in areas such as strength, dexterity, grasp, manipulation and coordination to improve independence in two main occupations: school participation in writing tasks and self-care tasks such as dressing, eating, grooming, and more.

Lead Occupational Therapist and Professor Sarah Cole completes all initial assessments and develops treatment plans for each child and supervises the treatment plans being carried out by staff along with OTA and PTA students.

Cole said the program will help children improve independence in school participation in writing tasks, and in self-care tasks.

The College’s current OTA and PTA students will have the opportunity to provide one-on-one support to children in each session that focuses on developing fine motor skills in areas such as strength, dexterity, grasp, manipulation, and coordination.

“I’m so excited to be able to provide services for a population in need in our community and also to provide our OTA and PTA students with a placement opportunity that will allow them to further develop their OTA-specific skills,” said Cole. “We had great success with the children when we first opened this clinic in 2018 and I loved hearing from parents and the children about their improvements and gratitude.

“I also enjoyed having the OTA and PTA students tell me about their excitement with being involved.”

Niagara Falls resident Felicia Keith-Williams, who graduated from NC’s OTA and PTA program in 2021, has now returned as a staff Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant.

“I was interested in working at the NC clinic because I learned the skills and practical experience while I was student. Also, I just love working alongside children by helping them to grow and thrive with their fine motor skills,” she said. “Being a part of the NC clinic will help contribute to the community by providing an opportunity for families to have their child(ren) receive the therapeutic attention they need.

“I have the opportunity to bring my skills, knowledge and expertise to life as I engage with these children to assist their fine motor skills.”

The six-week OT Fine Motor Development program is available for $300, including assessment and treatment. The program runs twice a week for 12 sessions.

The next block of the program will begin on March 7.

For more information or to register for the for the OT Fine Motor Development program email [email protected].

Performance Clinic information

NC’s Performance Clinic first launched in 2018 but has been closed since 2020.

Physiotherapy appointments are run from the Student Massage Therapy Clinic (SE 130) which opened in Fall 2022, and is open to community clients while providing experiential opportunities for students from NC’s Massage Therapy program.

Occupational Therapy appointments are located within the College’s new OTA-PTA lab at the Applied Health Institute (AH 127).

Appointments for the Performance Clinic may be booked online (, by email ([email protected]) or by phone (905-735-2211 ext. 7460). For information visit the Performance Therapy Clinic website at rapyclinic/.

The Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant program is a two-year diploma program within NC’s School of Allied Health. Applied learning opportunities are offered through field placements and lab work. Students are immersed in a unique interprofessional education experience as part of an allied health team.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


TOP PHOTO: Performance Clinic staff (OTA and PTA program alumnus) James Monterosso conducts an orientation session at the clinic for first-year OTA and PTA students

Media inquiries, please contact:


Julie Greco

Communications Consultant

Niagara College

Cell: 905-328-2532

[email protected]

Niagara College’s annual career fair returns in-person Feb. 6-9

This February, Niagara College students and community members can explore a multitude of job opportunities available in the Niagara Region at the College’s career fair, which returns to an in-person format for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Current students, alumni and community residents are welcome to attend and are encouraged to explore opportunities, hand out resumes, network, and meet with potential employers from a variety of industries.

Hosted by the College’s Career Services department and Community Employment Services, the career fair will kick off on Feb. 6 and 7 at the Welland Campus (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and continue Feb. 8 and 9 at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake (10 a.m. until 4 p.m.).

“We are excited to welcome employers, students and community members back to campus for Niagara College’s career fair,” said Shari Walsh, Director, Academic Advising and Career Services. “This is a fantastic opportunity for job seekers to learn more about the job market in the region while connecting with recruiters and representatives who can introduce them to exciting career opportunities.”

More than 100 employers are registered to attend this year’s event and are looking to recruit full-time, part-time, co-op and seasonal positions. Employers interested in participating in Niagara College’s career fair can register by visiting Registration is open until Jan. 20.

Career Services is also offering a variety of sessions and workshops in advance of the career fair to help NC students feel prepared when meeting with employers. Both virtual and in-person sessions are available and include resume and cover letter writing, interview prep, resume review clinics and a session on how to properly utilize LinkedIn.

Throughout the year, NC’s Career Services department offers students a full suite of employment services, including job search resources and coaching, resume and cover letter reviews, interview practice, and workshops. It also helps to connect employers with students seeking part-time, seasonal, or co-op work experiences, or new graduates seeking employment. Employers are encouraged to visit for information on how to post an opportunity or to find out more about how the Career Services team can support your hiring needs.

Niagara College Motus tower project gets flying start with donor support

A donation from a local nature club is helping Niagara College Ecosystem Restoration students spread their wings when it comes to tracking bird migration.

The Niagara Falls Nature Club is the most recent supporter of the College’s Motus tower project, which tracks the flight patterns of migratory birds and works in conjunction with hundreds of others across North and South America. The tower was installed last year at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and has recently become operational and online, connected to Birds Canada’s server.

“Thank you to the Niagara Falls Nature Club for their generous donation to our Motus tower project. This device and financial donation will be used to support student learning in a real-world way by providing environmental students with an incredible tool that they will be able to use and access for years to come,” said Alan Unwin, NC dean, Business and Environment, who was recently part of a historic Canadian delegation at the United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP15) in Montreal. “It also connects us into a larger more expansive database network that will benefit others, even outside of the College, as the data the Motus unit will produce will feed into the broader monitoring network.

“It fundamentally illustrates our institutional commitment to environmental education that will continue to focus on and elevate the importance of nature.”

NC’s Ecosystem Restoration students have been involved with creating and executing a plan as well as securing resources for the Motus Tower project since fall 2020. This year, students will begin using data collected from the tower in applied research projects.

“The Motus tower is a perfect example of why NC’s Ecosystem Restoration program is a go-to source for employers looking to hire skilled graduates,” said Evan DiValentino, associate dean, School of Environment and Horticulture. “The Motus tower is an excellent example of how experiential learning and strong community partnerships can benefit student skill development.”

Martin Smith, professor and program coordinator for Ecosystem Restoration, explained that NC’s Motus tower and hundreds of others are continuously collecting data. The ever-expanding dataset is summarized and interpreted by researchers from around the world. With the College now supporting the Motus network, students will soon have access to data collected across North and South America.

The first phase of the project began in spring 2022 and the tower was installed. The antenna became functional in December 2022. Ecosystem Restoration students will learn how to access and interpret data in their Wild Species Management course starting Winter 2023 term.

The initiative has recently received a $2,531.69 donation from the Niagara Falls Nature Club. The funds will be earmarked to develop the third and final phase of the project: a trapping and tagging field training program for NC students to be designed with Birds Canada specialists.

Smith noted the importance of the Motus network. Radio transmitters on tagged birds broadcast unique identifiers specific to each tagged bird.

“The network traces the exact path of a specific bird as it travels south,” he said. “In time, the data will also indicate the impacts of climate change and may serve to assist at-risk species.”

The project was applauded by its most recent community supporter.

“I am quite eager for the launch of the Motus project. As an avid birder, volunteering over the years as a counter in various bird counts across Niagara, and a principal atlasser for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, I know just how beneficial the collected data will be,” said Lisa Bacon, president, Niagara Falls Nature Club. “It’s no secret just how valuable any and all data collected on bird migration is. I believe the Motus initiative at NC will give students and the community a deeper interest with local and global conservation efforts and research.”

The local Nature Club received a bequest from the estate of its long-time members Jim and Marjorie Chase and sought to honour their interests in birding and education. After learning that NC students were seeking funding to expand the Motus network, the Club felt it was a perfect fit to donate a portion of the funds.

“Enabling expanded data collection to track bird movement while also supporting student research and learning is certainly a winning combination and in line with the nature club’s core aim of promoting a better understanding of Niagara’s natural environment,” said Kerry Kennedy, past president of the Niagara Falls Nature Club, who is a graduate of NC’s Ecosystem Restoration program and the spouse of NC president, Sean Kennedy.

“Hopefully, students will be able to use this technology to support project work and research on bird movements and will be able to share their findings with the local naturalist community as well as the broader research community,” said Kennedy.

Ecosystem Restoration student Christa Jackson is gaining experience with the Motus tower as she monitors the prothonotary warbler in Wild Species Management class.

“The Motus system is an amazing opportunity to learn more about birds and their migration habits and possible routes,” she said. “Working with the Motus system has left me wanting to work with birds even more.”

Ecosystem Restoration is a one-year graduate certificate program within NC’s School of Environment and Horticulture, based at NC’s 125-acre Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


Representatives from the Niagara Falls Nature Club meet with representatives from Niagara College near the lagoon at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, to present a donation for the College’s Motus tower project.

From left: Martin Smith (NC faculty), Christa Jackson (Ecosystem Restoration student), Evan DiValentino (associate dean, School of Environment and Horticulture), Lisa Bacon (Niagara Falls Nature Club, president), Jeff Schuts (NC residence services supervisor), Kerry Kennedy (Niagara Falls Nature Club, past president), Kevin Fochuk (NC residences, general manager), and Alan Unwin (NC dean, Business and Environment).

Media inquiries, please contact:

Julie Greco

Communications Consultant

Niagara College

Cell: 905-328-2532

[email protected]

New Pilot Program Aims to Grow Indigenous-led Early Childhood Education (ECE) Training in Niagara

Below is a media release issued by the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.

A new pilot program is helping to train Indigenous early childhood educators for First Nations communities in Niagara, widening opportunities for cultural learning while at the same time filling staffing gaps faced by licensed child care service providers.

Delivered as a partnership between the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, Niagara College, Six Nations Polytechnic and the Region of Niagara Children’s Services Division, the Indigenous-led Early Childhood Education (ECE) Pilot Program aims to grow the number of qualified staff in the workforce and increase access to high quality licensed child care for families.

The pilot project stems from critical staffing shortages across all communities but especially for Indigenous-led licensed childcare service providers because of the importance of cultural knowledge needed by Registered Early Childhood Educators.

There are 16 students currently enrolled in the program with no fees or costs to the students to undertake this program. An instructor from Six Nations Polytechnic will deliver lessons remotely and in person via the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre.

Classes commence on Jan. 9, 2023, and will conclude in April 2024.

As Registrar for the ECE program, Niagara College is responsible for the administration of student registrations into the program.

Niagara Region Children’s Services contributed funding to encourage the delivery of innovative strategies to support the recruitment and retention of Registered Early Childhood Educators.

Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre provided administration assistance for eligible students, space accommodations and other supports for students as they undertake the program.


“The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre is grateful for the relationship we have with the Niagara Region Children’s Services. This program is ReconcilliAction and an example that when we move beyond policy into innovative solutions, there are benefits to everyone. We are proud to help our people and be able to do this with established partners and new partners. When we as a community succeed, all of Niagara succeeds. This is an important lesson that innovation and ReconcilliAction are possible when people are priority over policy. Policy can change with good leadership guiding the way and we thank all of our partners for being good leaders with us.” Jennifer Dockstader, Executive Director, Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre

“Niagara Region Children’s Services is pleased to be part of this innovative pilot project led by the local Indigenous community and post-secondary partners. The success of this pilot not only means that we are continuing to learn and build stronger ties, we are ensuring Niagara families get access to high-quality licensed child care that meets the unique needs of their community.” Satinder Klair, Director Niagara Region Children’s Services

“Access to high quality, licensed childcare that meets the cultural needs of our community is so important for our region. With our history in offering a leading Early Childhood Education program, and a longstanding commitment to Indigenous Education, we’re pleased to work with our partners to address this significant need in Niagara.” Carol Phillips, Dean, Community Services, Justice and Fitness Studies, Niagara College.

“Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) is very pleased to work with our partners in the Niagara region to meet the need for Indigenous early childhood educators for First Nations communities. SNP’s culturally supporting approach to teaching and learning will strengthen the graduates’ cultural knowledge which in turn will support wholistic wellness among our children. Together we can make a positive difference for our collective generations.” Rebecca Jamieson, President/CEO, Six Nations Polytechnic.

Niagara College Canada



Media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney De Caire
Communications Consultant
[email protected]

Teaching Winery wins global gold for Icewine

Niagara College’s Teaching Winery has turned its ‘liquid gold’ into a gold medal at the world’s most exclusive fine wine show.

Judges from the 2022 Global Fine Wine Challenge awarded a gold in the Dessert Wines category to the NC Teaching Winery’s Dean’s List Savant Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019.

Exclusive to nations of the new world – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States – the annual invitation-only competition is open to the top 120 wines of each competing country. The best selections across 22 classes are made by representatives from each participating country, and the selected wines are transported to Sydney, Australia for blind judging.

“It was truly an honour to be invited to participate in the 2022 Global Fine Wine Challenge,” said Steve Gill, General Manager of NC’s Learning Enterprises. “To learn that our wine has been listed as a gold medal winner among the finest wines in the new world is a testament to how Canada’s first and only commercial Teaching Winery continues to raise the bar for wine education.”

Dean of NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division Craig Youdale applauded the achievement.

“The practical elements of our programs are the hallmark of what we are all about here at Niagara College,” said Youdale. “There is a strong tradition of Icewine production in Niagara and at our Teaching Winery, and to see their hard work being recognized with a gold medal is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff and students, and we could not be prouder.”

Dean’s List Savant Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019 comes from the Teaching Winery’s 2019 Icewine harvest, picked by NC wine students at a College-operated vineyard on Concession 5 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, then pressed in a student winemaking lab.

“I am proud to be a part of this team, where pushing the envelope and finding new exceptional ways to raise the bar continue to be at the forefront, said Allison Findlay, Winemaker at NC’s Teaching Winery, who is also an alumna of the College’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program (2014). “It is an honour to be recognized as a top contender on the world stage.”

Professor Gavin Robertson, who was Head Winemaker at the Teaching Winery from 2014 until he took on a full-time faculty role with the College’s School of Wine, Beer and Spirts this fall, recalled leading the production of the award-winning Icewine.

“We were striving to achieve a specific style within the Icewine category with this bottling: a single-vineyard, barrel-aged, complex, age-worthy dessert wine that would balance sweetness with acidity and grape and oak tannin structure, and which would evoke the true varietal character of the estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon we picked that cold night in December rather than being reduced to a more monotone, honeyed sweet wine which can happen with this style,” he said.

While the Teaching Winery has won several national awards for a variety of Icewines over the years, Robertson pointed out that this win was significant; it marked the Teaching Winery’s first invitation to enter the Global Fine Wine Challenge where it had an opportunity to compete against dessert wines “from a large swath of the wine-producing globe.”

“To stand out to a panel of Masters of Wine and other prominent wine judges and critics in that context is fairly remarkable,” said Robertson, who is an alumnus of NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program (2011) and a Nuffield Canada scholar. “It speaks to the quality we strive for, not just in winemaking but in education at the only Teaching Winery in the country, and it demonstrates to the students who picked and processed the fruit with us that they are all capable of forging a path to greatness in the global wine industry in their own right.”

The NC Teaching Winery’s gold was one of 12 awards listed in the Dessert Wines category at this year’s Global Fine Wine Challenge (view the 2022 results here). For information about the Global Fine Wine challenge visit

This isn’t the first award for the 2019 Dean’s List Savant Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. In June, it won bronze at the 2022 All Canadian Wine Championship.

Products from NC’s Teaching Winery are available for purchase at the College’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre (Daniel J. Patterson Campus: 135 Taylor Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake) or online at while supplies last. Proceeds from sales support student learning.

NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program is a two-year diploma program within the College’s School of Wine Beer and Spirits.

Niagara College’s Teaching Winery was the first and only  commercial teaching winery in Canada and is the only facility of its kind in the country today. It is located at the College’s Daniel J. Patterson Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, along with the NC Teaching Brewery and – the latest addition in September 2018 – the NC Teaching Distillery which were also the first of their kind in the country.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture, and esthetics. For more information visit



Media inquiries, please contact:


Julie Greco

Communications Consultant

Niagara College

Cell: 905-328-2532

Niagara College leads the way in palliative care training for Paramedic students

Niagara College’s Paramedic program has taken a leap forward when it comes to offering students critical training in palliative care.

Thanks to a new partnership with Pallium Canada, NC is leading the way as the first college in Canada to adopt Pallium’s award-winning Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative Care (LEAP) Paramedic course into their Paramedic program curriculum.

“We’re thrilled to see Niagara College lead the way as the first Canadian college to incorporate LEAP Paramedic into their leading paramedic program,” said Pallium Canada’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Moat. “We commend their initiative and vision to empower their students to provide high-quality, patient-centred palliative care.”

After incorporating LEAP Paramedic into the Paramedic program curriculum for the first time, 42 second-year students had the chance to complete the training and earn their certification from Pallium Canada for LEAP Paramedic training this Fall term.

“This training is currently offered to working medics and we are the first College to offer this to our students,” said Associate Dean, School of Allied Health, Eva Lemak. “This is critical during a time when there is a shortage of healthcare professionals in hospitals and paramedics can provide palliative care support to patients at home.”

LEAP Paramedic is a blended learning course for paramedics and Emergency Medical Service professionals that teaches the essential practical knowledge, attitudes, and skills to provide a palliative care approach on-site.

The course promotes teamwork, enhances transitions of care, and catalyzes quality improvement initiatives in daily practice and within teams. The modules cover palliative care topics including pain, dyspnea, delirium, palliative emergencies, and more.

“The partnership with Pallium Canada is incredible,” said Nate Alaimo, Instructor and Paramedic Technologist, for NC’s School of Allied Health. “The fact that we can train our students to be part of this initiative is very exciting.”

Alaimo pointed to the need for palliative care training among paramedics, to improve the Paramedic scope of practice in Ontario, and to help give patients access to alternate health care options over emergency rooms – to keep patients comfortable in their own homes, surrounded by their families during end-of-life times.

“As paramedics across the province are shifting away from responding to ‘emergencies only’ and moving toward helping in many community and non-emergency situations, palliative care is one of those areas that Paramedics can make a big difference in patients’ lives, said Alaimo. “This program gives our students the knowledge and assessment skills to assess and treat palliative patients, in turn keeping them out of the ER and in the comfort of their own homes.”

Second-year NC Paramedic student Nick Mortimer, said he found the training very helpful.

“Coming into this course, I didn’t realize that palliative care would be a part of this program, but I’m really happy that it is,” he said. “I think it’s awesome that we’re among the first to receive this training off the bat and I think it will help in the long term.”

Paramedic student Rachel Sussman noted that while it can be challenging to have difficult conversations with patients, she has learned that it is important to understand that the majority of people want to stay at home and to gain an understanding of how they would like to be cared for as they progress.

“I definitely think it will be key to this type of job because we see a lot of different types of populations, so getting to be a part of palliative care really gets you the knowledge and understanding,” she said.

“What are these people going through and [what is] the type of care that they really need? That might not always be going to the hospital.”

While the emotional aspect of palliative care can be challenging, Darian Pompa valued the opportunity to complete LEAP Paramedic training as a Paramedic student.

“I think it’s very important to know how to talk to not only the patient but their family … talking to the family is just as important as talking to the patient,” she said.

Pallium Canada’s LEAP training courseware provides practical, inter-professional and evidence-based training in the palliative care approach. LEAP equips health care professionals with the expertise and skills to provide palliative care to patients and families facing life-limiting illnesses in a more timely and effective way.

Pallium Canada is a national, non-profit organization based in Ottawa, Canada. For over 20 years, we have helped healthcare organizations build capacity by providing palliative care education and resources for health care professionals working in different settings. Learn more at

Niagara College’s School of Allied Health, based at the Welland Campus, offers a two-year Paramedic diploma program, as well as a one-year graduate certificate Advanced Care Paramedic program.

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture, and esthetics. For more information visit


TOP PHOTO: Second-year Paramedic students complete an in-class session for Pallium LEAP Paramedic training at the Welland Campus on November 21.


Media inquiries, please contact:


Julie Greco

Communications Consultant

Niagara College

Cell: 905-328-2532

[email protected]


Georgina Dunn

Manager, Digital Marketing and Communications

Pallium Canada


[email protected]