Distinguished Citizens

Lakeland College awards honorary credentials to citizens who have made significant contributions to the community and have achieved provincial, national or international recognition.
In addition, the person must display the values Lakeland College strives to cultivate including respect, safety, trust, pride, ethics, quality and accountability.


Richard Starke - 2020 Vermilion Distinguished Citizen
Community is what you make of it.
Richard Starke has been doing his best to improve his community through volunteerism, service and support since he first moved to the Lloydminster area from Edmonton in 1983.
“The better quality of life in any given community is determined by the willingness of individuals to pitch in and make that community better,” Starke says.
The desire to improve his community is one of the guiding principles in Starke’s life. Among his many acts of volunteerism, he has been involved with the Rotary Club, the Lloydminster Regional Health Foundation Board, the Lloydminster German Heritage Society, coaching and officiating youth sports, including speed skating and soccer, and more.
In his professional career, Starke holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with Distinction from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. He became an owner of the Lloydminster Animal Hospital in 1985 and opened a second practice, Companion Animal Care Centre, in 2008. He sold both practices before entering provincial politics, serving as MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster from 2012-2019, previously having served on Lloydminster City Council.
“As MLA, I was always extremely proud to speak on behalf of Lakeland College to my colleagues in Edmonton,” Starke says. “I repeatedly told them that our college was doing things the right way when it comes to post-secondary education in Alberta. The college leadership, including Dr. Wainwright-Stewart, Mike Crowe and Georgina Altman, were always very helpful in my advocacy on behalf of the college. I'm proud of the many improvements that happened at Lakeland College during my tenure, including the Centre for Sustainable Innovation (CSI), Energy Centre, Rowing Club Boat Storage Facility, Dairy Learning Facility and Animal Health Centre, as well as the repairs to the roof of the Trade Centre.”
For Starke, being chosen as a distinguished citizen for Lakeland College is a particular honour.
“It’s very humbling. I’m grateful, obviously. You hear names like Beckie Scott, Jean Paré or Judy Woyewitka and these are people that I’ve looked up to for a long time. Two of the distinguished citizens, Bill Kondro and Don Mazankowski, were political mentors of mine and I was friends with both of them. When I see their names on this list and realize that now, I’m going to be on the list as well, it’s very humbling.”
It is with great respect that Lakeland College recognizes Richard Starke of Lloydminster as a Distinguished Citizen and awards him an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business Degree.
Robin Acton - 2020 Lloydminster Distinguished Citizen
There is a difference between optimism and hope, and Robin Acton considers herself very hopeful.
“I’m a big believer that if you want to change something, the way to do it is to get involved,” Acton says. “Lloydminster is an amazing community. I think our border status and our complicated way of being in the world have led to a lot of community activism. As Lloydminsterites, we’ve had to be active to better our community.”
Spending nearly the entirety of her life in Lloydminster, Acton has been bettering the community for decades, inspired by the desire to enact positive change and her children.
Alongside her career as a consultant and businessperson, Acton has been committed to building inclusive communities. She has been involved with Inclusion Lloydminster and Inclusion Alberta for over 25 years, in both volunteer and professional roles, including serving as president for both organizations. Acton is currently the president of Inclusion Canada. She dedicates her efforts to working with communities to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities are given the same opportunities as all Albertans and are seen as contributing and valued members of their communities.
Acton is actively involved in the development of inclusive education at the post-secondary level, including the Inclusive Post-secondary initiative at Lakeland College.
Acton’s many other community contributions include being both a member and past president of the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce, 20 years of involvement as a Rotarian, serving on the Physician Recruitment Committee, working to improve access to primary health care in her community, among others.
She also supports the family business, Acton’s Lower Shannon Farms.
Despite her many community contributions, being named Lloydminster campus’ Distinguished Citizen of the year took Acton by surprise. “I was very surprised and honoured,” she says. “I think Lakeland College is such an integral part of our community and having it in Lloydminster and Vermilion has enhanced our whole region.”
Acton’s endless drive and energy to improve her community comes from a place of hope.
“Optimism is when people just think things will magically work out, but hope requires action. Hope requires a bit of faith. You can believe in the capacity for things to change, but it requires action. I am always hopeful.”
It is with great respect that Lakeland College recognizes Robin Acton of Lloydminster as a Distinguished Citizen and awards her an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business Degree.
Doug Elliott - 2019 Vermilion Distinguished Citizen
Doug Elliott’s commitment to learning has played a key role in Lakeland College’s success.

From 2005 to 2011, Doug served as the chair of the Lakeland College Board of Governors. He oversaw progressive changes at Lakeland while always stressing the importance of financial stability, program quality and excellent student service. Lakeland’s programming increased, student enrolment grew and facilities and land base expanded during Doug’s tenure as chair. The former schoolteacher and lifelong farmer also served as a program advisory committee member for the crop technology program and was a panel member on producer forums organized by students.

“Education is absolutely critical because it’s the first step in a lifelong journey of learning. The best thing that any student can learn is how to learn and how much there is to learn,” says Doug. “The purpose of Lakeland College is to give our students an opportunity to reach their potential, achieve their goals and get a great start on life.”

A longstanding supporter of Lakeland, Doug purchased a lifetime alumni membership and established the Joan Elliott Memorial Scholarship in memory of his late wife.

Doug’s volunteerism goes beyond Lakeland. Over the years, he’s served as a board chair or director of several co-operatives and industry organizations, including the Eastalta Co-op, Vermilion Seed Cleaning Co-op Association, Alberta Canola Producers Commission and the Canola Council of Canada, among others. For his significant contributions and achievements, Doug was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“The highlight of my work has been the people. I feel very fortunate to have been surrounded by good people and they deserve so much credit.”

It is with great respect that Lakeland College recognizes Doug Elliott of Vermilion as a Distinguished Citizen and awards him an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business Degree.
Mary Holtby - 2019 Lloydminster Distinguished Citizen
An act of kindness is never wasted, according to Mary Holtby, whose accomplishments have significantly influenced her family and community.
While Mary and her husband, Harold, were building their multi-generation, mixed farm operation near Marshall, Sask., they were also building their community. Together, they helped with several initiatives including the Marshall Three Links Community Centre and the first covered ice-skating rink. With the Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodges, Mary spearheaded the Marshall School breakfast program. The surrounding community also benefitted from their community spirit. They contributed to the development of Lloydminster’s Junior A hockey team and projects such as the indoor swimming pool and the Vic Juba Community Theatre.
For over 55 years, Mary has been a proud member of the Marshall Golden Jubilee Rebekah Lodge #133 and served as noble grand (president) several times. She also served at the provincial and international levels. Mary was awarded the Decoration of Chivalry for outstanding service to the Rebekahs and community.
Mary served on the Lloydminster and District Co-op Board of Directors and as a Lakeland College Advocacy Committee chair. She was also a member of the Lakeland College Board of Governors and supported the Bill Kondro Wing addition. 
“It was important to us to be involved in the community and help build it to be a great place to live and raise our family. A leader works hard, tells the truth and always strives to do the right thing. They help where and when they can, and they never stop learning,” says Mary. 
It is with great respect that Lakeland College recognizes Mary Holtby of Marshall as a Distinguished Citizen and awards her an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business Degree.
What Students Say
With the Student-Managed Farm you learn to be accountable for what you’re doing and the choices you make. You get an understanding of what it’s like to be out in industry or on a farm making decisions that count.

– Anthony Biglieni

Agribusiness Class of 2006

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College has been a integral partner in growing our own through the school of business. As an alumnus of the college, I have first-hand learning experience in the school of business. The professors welcome Servus Credit Union to facilitate classes in the Business Ethics course each year.

– Sandi Unruh

Senior Human Resources Consultant

What Faculty & Staff Say
Vertex has had great experience bringing on students from Lakeland College. We have found the Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Management) program to provide students with good academic knowledge of the environmental industry and the criteria that governs the land reclamation

– Sean Fuller B.Sc., P.Ag.

Vice President, Environmental Services, Vertex.

What Alumni Say
There is no way I would be where I am today without Lakeland College. It inspired me to be a better person and to get a job in something I love doing. I am so thankful I had such a great experience at Lakeland and I hope future students do as well.

– Danielle Gaboury

Business studies, Class of 2016.

What Students Say
I recommend the UT program to people all the time. The smaller setting Lakeland offers, is very conducive to learning. It's less intimidating than the larger universities and allows for more class interactions and discussions

– Kelly Mykytuk

2nd year UT student, 2017-18

What Alumni Say
Choosing to attend Lakeland College was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life so far. The welcoming and friendly Lakeland environment encourages a place of excellence, and fosters the ability to be successful not only in school, but in life.

– Mariah Van’t Hof

University Transfer, Class of 2015

What Alumni Say
I have loved my experience at Lakeland. The teachers are personable, and quick to share about their own experiences. They encouraged me to run with my own ideas and see what would happen; they got excited about my designs, which gave me the confidence to do my best and be more creative.

– Payton Ramstead

Class of 2016, Interior Design student.

What Alumni Say
At Lakeland College you are guaranteed to have time out of the classroom where you can put everything you learned together and actually see that what you’re learning is relevant.

– Alisa Brace

Animal Health Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The friendships I made, the experiences we were provided with, and the welcoming atmosphere of the Vermilion Campus made my time at Lakeland extremely valuable and memorable

– Grayden Kay

Animal Science & Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
Lakeland College was a learning environment unlike any other school. It allows students to learn beyond the classroom, and staff and faculty genuinely want to see students succeed. It’s a place where you can feel comfortable asking questions and where everyone has a place and fits in.

– Carson Reid

Agribusiness, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The instructors were the highlight of my time at Lakeland. It made a huge impact on my college experience to have instructors who challenged, encouraged, and believed in me.

– Jessica Cadrain

Child & Youth Care, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
At the beginning of my first year, I was really stressed out as I felt I had no artistic ability. But with the instruction and time put in by the interior design faculty, I was able to develop my artistic abilities. Now I am fully confident in and exceeding well in the artistic side of this career!

– Naomi Mason

Interior Design Technology, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I just feel like you get the best education at Lakeland, especially from the time that the instructors can actually spend with you. I like the class sizes too – everything’s been great about my Lakeland experience.

– Dean Coulson

Heavy Equipment Technician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I do give Lakeland College credit for reigniting my interest and even preparing me for Miss Rodeo Canada. Lakeland helped me to grow enough to have the confidence to think I could take on that role and become that person. I think that I have and I am really grateful for that

– Ali Mullin

Agribusiness, class of 2014, former Miss Rodeo Canada.

What Alumni Say
I feel the professors at Lakeland actually prepared me for the profession. It’s impossible to be just a number here when there are 12 students in all of your classes. When the school advertised small class sizes, they actually meant it.

– Stephen Mark Visser

Real Estate Appraisal and Assessment, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
I was involved in the president’s gala in April where I was an emcee for the evening, it was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun doing it and would recommend it to everyone.”

– Lucas Tetreault

HOPE Power Engineering, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I would recommend Lakeland College for the simple fact that it's for everybody. As a mature student who went back to school much later than his 18th year, I was immediately accepted, and not ostracized in the least

– Donald James Shaw

Accounting Major, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
All the hands-on learning was great and very helpful once placed into the industry. Having clients leave with a smile after each service assured me that I was in the right field of work. I would recommend Lakeland to anyone.

– Courtnee Coolidge

Esthetician, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
The professors care so much about their students at Lakeland and are able to know each and every one of them by name, so much so that they are able to nominate a ton of students for awards.

– Stephanie Wakefeild

University Transfer, Class of 2016.

What Alumni Say
They really put you in the lead at Lakeland. Lakeland cares about its students, empowers them, and gives them opportunities to achieve their goals. I don’t see Lakeland as a stepping stone or a first step – I see it as a bridge and an integral part of my education.

– Alyssa Wells

University Transfer, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
I wanted to get experience in the field of assessment as it would give me exposure to what it’s like day to day. It was an invaluable experience as I find it hard to imagine what it would be like working in a particular field or area until I’m doing the work.

– Sheldon Farrell

Real estate appraisal and assessment, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
In the campus spa, they give you time to work with each client so nothing is rushed and you’re able to concentrate on providing the best service you can to your client.

– Daphney Couturier

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Alumni Say
It’s going to be a lot easier to start our first jobs having this experience and having been able to build our confidence in the campus spa. I love that we get to have this opportunity.

– Darby Watchel

Esthetician, Class of 2017.

What Employers Say
Lakeland is a great place to find employees. The college provides real world training that equips soon-to-be employees with knowledge and people skills that are highly sought after in the agriculture industry these days.

– Dustin Dinwoodie

Key Account Manager – Western Canada Arysta LifeScience

What Alumni Say
The hands-on field trips, quality of education i received, professors who are invested in your success, and all the friends I made. I exceeded my academic expectations and I also had a lot of fun. If i had to do it all over gain, i would choose Lakeland!

– Nicole (Audet) Pysh

Class of 2006, Environmental Protection & Class of 2008, Applied Environmental Degree