The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

Here, members can discuss what they learned, what they enjoyed, and offer suggestions to enhance future program offerings.

Take a look at the photos we're taking, and the discussions we're having as OLLI members.

Whether we're in class, in town, or out of town ... we're on the go, having fun, and constantly learning.

We look forward to reading your comments!

While you're online, be sure to visit our website to register for our programs.

Don't forget -- OLLI has its own YouTube Channel, where you can see video clips of Learning Trips, Classes, and Study Groups!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joan's Trophy & Plaque - July 16, 2014

How many times have you driven past Joan's Trophy & Plaque on Jefferson Ave. and wondered what goes on inside? Have you ever wondered what it takes to create the timeless memorabilia?

On this incredibly entertaining and interesting tour, OLLI members learned all about the many facets behind Peoria's iconic Joan's Trophy & Plaque. Upon entry, we found ourselves in the showroom--shelves, and display-cases filled with intricately carved glass, colorful plaques, and awards of every variety.

Our wonderful guides, took us through the various departments of Joan's Trophy & Plaque, where we got to see the process take place. It all begins in graphics, where clients can choose or create designs to have placed on essentially any item you could imagine--from glass to bricks! Once the design has been chosen, it is sent upstairs to the various craftsman that will bring it to life.

High-tech, powerful lasers can create crystal-clear images on glass or metal, and sand-blasters can intricately carve-out glass. The talent these craftsman possess is one of a kind, and we are grateful to have seen them in action!

Joan's Trophy and Plaque even had gifts ready for our OLLI members--each member on the trip received a custom-made name-tag! Not only did we get name-tags, but we helped produce them!

Now, some OLLI members are fully-aware of the work it takes to create these beautiful trophies and plaques. We are incredibly thankful to our wonderful friends at Joan's Trophy & Plaque for being such fabulous hosts!

We love our name-tags, and can't wait to come back soon!

For more information on Joan's Trophy & Plaque, check out their website!

OLLI at Bradley

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peoria County Emergency Management Agency - July 15, 2014

Ever wonder what happens in an emergency situation? Where the central location for management is located?

Well, on this learning trip to the Peoria County Emergency Management Agency, OLLI members were able to observe first-hand where the agency operations are housed.

Before our insightful visit to the Peoria Co. EMA, OLLI members enjoyed a fabulous buffet spread at the Kickapoo Creek Winery, complete with various dessert options, and my favorite--garlic mashed potatoes.

To no surprise, we had some difficulty locating the EMA. You see, the Peoria County EMA is actually located in an underground bunker. However, we knew we were in the right place once we found the Peoria County Diving Team's trailer and boat in front of the EMA. Quite amusing to see the emergency vehicles parked next to the OLLI Shuttle.

After learning about the history of the Peoria Co. EMA, we headed underground to see where the operations are held.

You would have no idea that underneath the dirt and grass, entire agency operations are taking place. It was fascinating learning about the many facets behind the Peoria Co. EMA, and just how much goes into preparing for emergency situations. The EMA is equipped with monitors, radio systems, and communications that allow staff to dispatch emergencies readily and efficiently.

Thank you to our wonderful guides for an incredibly informative visit!

As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

OLLI at Bradley

Monday, July 14, 2014

J.K. Williams Distilling 2 - July 11, 2014

Our second visit to J.K. Williams Distilling this summer provided members with the opportunity to learn more about the family's history, and to sample more cocktails! No better way to kick-start the weekend than by getting the chance to sample a variety of the distillery's fine products.

We were welcomed with a few of the distillery's original and delicious cocktails that include everything from a Lemon Drop Martini to a Whiskey Pom Pom!

We also had the opportunity to learn about the distillery's history. The Williams family began distilling well-before the 1920s, and became a top-name during the prohibition era. After a brief overview of the Williams roots in distilling, we had the opportunity to tour the facility. Our tour included a behind-the-scenes look at the distilling process, as-well as an inside peak at how the product goes from grain to bottle.

Most-charming are the family values the distillery holds so dearly. Brother and sister have taken initiative to reinvent the business--and they have turned it into a family affair. For everything from bottling parties to tours, the parents and children always lend a helping-hand. Even the labels are placed on the bottles by hand! Although every now and then they place a crooked label, it's the subtle charm in these imperfections that makes their products so unique.

Our lovely visit to J.K. Williams Distilling concluded with the opportunity for OLLI members to sample a variety of their products which include: peach whiskey, apple pie whiskey, blackberry whiskey, lemon whiskey, bourbon, and the original corn whiskey.

We couldn't think of a better way to start our weekend, and we are grateful to our friends at J.K. Williams Distilling for their warm welcome!

For more information on J.K. Williams Distillery, you can find them on Facebook!

And if you would like the recipes to some of the cocktails we tried,visit the distillery's blog!

OLLI at Bradley

Historic Heritage Corridor - July 10, 2014

Our delightful and fascinating trip through the Historic Heritage Corridor of Illinois kicked-off with a visit to the Weber House and Garden in Streator, IL. This charming cottage sits on two acres of English gardens, paths, roses, hollyhocks, and old oaks. The home is filled with stories of the rich and famous, and our fascinating docent Ted Weber, shared many of these fascinating stories. Ted Weber, a long-time Chicago radio and television personality, created the Weber House and Garden, which was a haven from the city for many celebrities.

Along the bus-ride North, we viewed Radium Girls, a documentary about the Radium Dial Company and the many women that fell victim to radium poisoning in Ottawa, IL. Before starting our tour of the historic Reddick Mansion, we were able to stop by the Radium Girl Memorial which honored the women who lost their lives. At the Reddick Mansion, we were welcomed by a wonderful docent dressed as Mr. Reddick's wife herself. After touring what was once the home of the philanthropist, and man who contributed so much to the Ottawa community, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch catered by the Cheese Shop.

Our next stop was to the Ottawa Scouting Museum. Did you know that the Boy Scouts of America was founded in Ottawa, IL? This museum holds the uniforms, artifacts, and stories of the Boy Scouts from the years past. The museum is also home to several exhibits that highlight the history of Ottawa, and the many influential people that have called this town home.

Our last stop before departing back to campus was to the Hegeler-Carus Mansion of LaSalle, IL. What a perfect way to end our trip through the Historic Heritage Corridor of Illinois! This stunning mansion boasts the oldest at-home gymnasium, over 50 rooms, and the birthplace of the Open Court Publishing Company. Barb and Ken, our wonderful docents, shared with us the many stories contained within each room of the mansion. One would need well over a day to view the entire house!

We hope you enjoyed your trip through the Historic Heritage Corridor of Illinois as much as we did!

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts!

OLLI at Bradley