Friday, March 20, 2009

Team Photo

The District’s 2009 Rotary Group Study Exchange team leaves on a five-week cultural and vocational exchange to Northern Australia on March 28th. The six member team will represent the international Rotary District 5060, which spans from Clearwater in British Columbia to Prosser, Washington and has 3000 Rotarians in 61 clubs. The team, led by Kathy Butler a Kelowna Rotarian and past president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna (Downtown), will stay with Rotarian families, experience the host country’s institutions, culture, including aboriginal cultures; while sharing knowledge with their professional counterparts and making presentations to Rotary clubs and other groups in Australia about the various regions within District 5060, plus share their Canadian and American culture.

Other members of the team are non-Rotarians: David Zirnhelt, an online furniture broker from Kamloops sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kamploops Daybreak; Andrew Van Dokkumburg, a mortgage specialist with Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union sponsored by the Salmon Arm Rotary Club; Chad Eliason, a Salmon Arm city councillor, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm – Shuswap; Erika Pfahl, a practicing pharmacist from Osoyoos and sponsored by the Osoyoos Rotary Club; and Erin Snelgrove, a journalist with the Yakima Herald and Rotary Club of Yakima – Downtown.

The team will make 18 vocational visits and club presentations, plus 16 formal visits and social events, as well as participate in the two-day Rotary District 9550 conference in Cairns, Queensland before returning to Kelowna on May 4th. Stops along the way include Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu National Park, Tennant Creek, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Charters Towers, Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef, Ingham, Mission Beach, Innisfail, Mareeba, Port Douglas and Cairns.

Funded by the Rotary Foundation through contribution from Rotarians, the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers.

Covering 1.5 million square kilometers in the Northern Territory of Australia, District 9550 is vastly diverse. The region includes the World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Parks, the tropics, outback, multicultural Darwin. The District is renowned for agriculture, cattle, fishing, horticulture, mining, sugar cane and tourism.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet Our Team!

Team Leader - Kathy Butler

The 2009 Group Study Exchange team is being led by Kathy Butler. Kathy is a resident of Kelowna which she has called her home for the last 24 years. She is a mother of two and is the Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations At Okanagan College. Kathy has been involved with Rotary since 1994 and was the president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna (Downtown) in 2003-04.

Erika Pfahl

Erika, 25, hails from BC's Desert - Osoyoos. She is a high energy, enthusiastic person and is looking forward to Scuba Diving on the Great Barrier Reef. She is a second generation Pharmacist by trade where she does far more than just dispense medication. Erika works closely with other Health Professionals to help her community become more educated on their health and on the importance of a complete and balanced lifestyle. Erika is the youngest member of this years GSE Team and will therefore be the one doing all the laundry.

Erin Snelgrove

Erin, who is turning 31 during the trip, is the lone American on our team. She lives in Yakima, Washington, where she works as a reporter. She is passionate about reporting because every day is exciting and presents new challenges. She also enjoys getting paid to spend time pursuing her interests and writing about fascinating people. Erin is excited about meeting Australian journalists to discuss how they cover news Downunder!

Chad Eliason

Chad is one of two members of the 2009 GSE team who is from Salmon Arm, BC. Chad is not new to Rotary Exchanges, as he was fortunate enough to be selected to go to Brazil on an Exchange in 1996. He spends his days working in the Mortgage Industry, as well as for the City of Salmon Arm where, at 27, he was the youngest to ever be elected to Council. Now 30, Chad is into his second term on Council and is working hard to help Salmon Arm continue to be a strong and prosperous place.

Dave Zirnhelt

Dave, 32, calls Kamloops, BC home. Dave is an innovative person who is not afraid to try new things, even going so far as to create his own Online furniture business. In 2003 Dave, with his business partner Serge, started Wholesale Furniture Brokers ( and they have grown from a 2 person operation to now employing over 20 people! Community is something that is also very important to Dave; he is a founding member of Kamloops' Rotaract club. Dave is looking forward to exploring district 9550 and can't wait to see the Great Barrier Reef.

Andrew Van Dokkumburg

Andrew, 26, is the second member of this year's GSE team to come from Salmon Arm, BC. Not only are Chad and Andrew from the same small town, Andrew is also a Mortgage Specialist too! Might be a little bit tougher to buy a house in Salmon Arm until they get back in May! Andrew spends a lot of his spare time involved in Minor Sports, so he is looking forward to experiencing some Australian sports like Cricket or Rugby.