Celebrating 20 Years!

Celebrating 20 Years!

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 www.bradley.edu/continue/olli 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!

Like us on Facebook!

Follow us on Twitter:

Follow by Email

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Festival of Lights (FOLEPI) -- November 18, 2010

On our last trip of the Fall season (and one week before the world-famous East Peoria Festival of Lights parade), OLLI had a rare opportunity to visit the "Folepi Construction Company" and its "employees:" a merry band of volunteers who design and build the parade's 40+ floats. During our tour of the building, constructed in 1994 to house activities for the already-burgeoning festival, we met a group of dedicated volunteers and employees who work year-round designing, welding, and maintaining the floats (and their 500,000 lights).

For more information about the Festival of Lights, please visit the City of East Peoria webpage.

Midland Davis Corporation -- November 17, 2010

Midland Davis Corporation can trace its roots back to 1892, when a 20-year-old immigrant named Louis Livingston began collecting pieces of discarded iron and steel to sell to local foundries and mills. During our tour of the Pekin business, we learned how the fifth-generation company has evolved into a full-service recycling provider that processes more than 168,000 pounds of cardboard, 42,000 pounds of newsprint, and 21,000 pounds each of paper and co-mingled plastics each week. We also had the opportunity to watch the entire scrap metal recycling process, from hopper sorting to semi-loading!

For more information about the services provided by Midland Davis, please visit the corporation's website.

Getz Fire Equipment Company -- November 16, 2010

The Getz family has been in the fire protection business for more than 52 years, and in November they opened the doors of their Adams Street facility to show OLLI how the business has grown and diversified into a multi-million dollar company. During our tour, we learned how the company's 100 specialists provide commerical, industrial, and residential fire alarm services, training, surveillance systems, and equipment development. Our visit to the 30,000 square-feet building also included a look at pressure test rooms, a wheeled unit room, and a fleet of service vehicles.

For more information about Getz Fire Equipment Company, please visit its website.

Advanced Technology Services -- November 11, 2011

On this trip, we learned how ATS, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, provides managed services for factory maintenance, industrial parts services, calibration, and innovative technology solutions. The local, privately owned company, formed in 1985 as a Caterpillar Inc. spinoff, has become the recognized leader in outsourced production equipment maintenance. During the tour of the company's headquarters, we discovered how top manufacturing companies use ATS to improve equipment reliability, increase uptime, and facilitate lean manufacturing.

For more information about ATS, visit the company's website.

New Orleans Ethnic Dinner -- November 10, 2010

The ethnic dinner has become another OLLI tradition. This fall, we “laissez le bons temps rouler” (let the good times roll) during our after-hours dinner at the Michel Student Center.

OLLI members celebrated the culture and cuisine of “The Big Easy” with a private evening of traditional New Orleans jazz music, a presentation by Carl Anderson, affiliate instructor of music business at Bradley University, and, of course, authentic New Orleans-style food.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Toraason Glass -- November 2, 2010

In early November, we experienced a behind-the-scenes look at local artist (and OLLI favorite) Hiram Toraason’s glass blowing studio in downtown Peoria. Hiram led a tour of his gallery and demonstrated the techniques of working with 2,000-degree molten glass to create a one-of-a-kind work of art. After our tour, Hiram took our group to Methodist Medical Center, where he talked about his wall sculpture of 240 pieces of hand-blown glass in the new Hamilton Boulevard entrance.

For more information about Toraason Glass, visit his website.

Historic Oregon -- October 28, 2010

In late October, OLLI traveled to Oregon, Illinois, located about two hours north of Peoria, where we spent a beautiful autumn day learning about the art, nature, and cultural attractions of the town.

Our stops included a tour of Art Casting of Illinois, where owner Karly Spell and her staff (which includes some Bradley graduates) provided a tour of the bronze foundry. Next, we visited the Chana School for a private tour of the historic one-room school. After the tour, local artist Jeff Adams hopped on our bus to provide commentary as we drove through the town’s Sculpture Trail. Following lunch at the White Pines Inn, we ended the day with a private tour and blacksmithing presentation on the grounds of the John Deere Historic Site in Grand De Tour.

For more information about the attractions in Oregon, please visit the town's website.

A Day in Galesburg -- October 21, 2010

On an all-day trip to nearby Galesburg, we were delighted to have architects, theatre professionals, authors, and professors as our guides when we learned all about the historic city. Dr. R. Lance Factor, Knox philosophy professor and author of Chapel in the Sky, and Owen Muelder, director of the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, gave private presentations and a tour of Old Main, a national historic landmark on the campus. We will took private tours of the Central Congregational Church, Orpheum Theatre, and enjoyed lunch at the always-popular Packing House.

For more information about Galesburg, please visit its Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

The Lion King -- October 20, 2010

Forty OLLI members enjoyed a day of musical theatre and insight when we traveled to Chicago for a performance of Disney’s The Lion King. Jim Ludwig, retired faculty member of Bradley University’s theatre department (and current OLLI member) joined us for insightful commentary during the trip, which included a pre-performance tour of the Cadillac Palace Theatre and a post-show talkback with members of the cast.

Fitness Nature Hike -- October 12, 2010

OLLI's first-ever fitness hike was led by Blair Gorsuch, Exercise Physiologist and Director of Proctor Hospital’s Burkland Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, at Fox Ridge State Park in Charleston. Blair helped our group navigate the park’s miles of scenic trails and talked about how hiking can benefit a healthy lifestyle.

Energy Knowledge Cafe -- September 22, 2010

As one of OLLI's original Study Groups, the Energy Knowledge Cafe meets monthly to discuss a variety of issues related to energy. In September, Jim Moroz, a research director at Caterpillar Inc., made a presentation to the group concerning the current technologies in photovoltaics. This presentation had a twist, however; OLLI members were joined by two undergraduate Bradley University classes for an intergenerational discussion.

For more information about OLLI's Study Groups, please visit our website.

Kickapoo Creek Winery -- September 28, 2010

In late September, a group of 30 OLLI members joined us for a tour of Kickapoo Creek Winery in Edwards (with owner and OLLI member Dr. David Conner).

Our trip included an incredible "Grape Train" tour of the vineyards, a plated lunch in the pavilion, a tasting of five different wines, and a presentation on the winemaking and bottling process.

OLLI thanks Dr. Conner and his staff at the winery for providing another great learning adventure!

For more information about the winery, visit Kickapoo Creek Winery's website.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spoon River Anthology -- September 23, 2010

In another OLLI exclusive, participants took a trip through Fulton County as immortalized by Edgar Lee Mastesr in his 1915 Spoon River Anthology. Joan Johnson, retired English teacher and Masters expert, joined us to present historical commentary about how the book is still relevant, nearly 100 years after its original serialization.

Stops during the day included the Rasmussen Blacksmith Shop and Museum in Lewistown, Ipava Pioneer Museum with Camp Ellis memorabilia, restored Freeman School, Harold Lee Welch Art Studio, a chicken and noodles luncheon at Smithfield Red Brick School, the Canton railroad depot, and historic downtown buildings.

The day culminated in a fascinating reading from Spoon River Anthology amongst the tombstones used by Masters to glean names and stories for his poems.

Peoria's Religious Art and Architecture -- September 22, 2010

In this first-ever local trip, OLLI members visited five downtown Peoria churches to discuss the architecture, stained glass, organ, building history, congregation history, and religious beliefs of each church. Local architect Les Kenyon also accompanied the group to enrich our understanding of the architectural aspects of the places of worship.

Mark Twain's Hannibal -- September 16, 2010

In mid-September, OLLI enjoyed a beautiful day of exploration and education in Hannibal, Missouri.

During our visit, we learned all about the hometown of Mark Twain as Hannibal celebrates the 175th anniversary of Twain’s birth, the 125th anniversary of the publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death.

For more information about Hannibal, please visit www.visithannibal.com.

Peoria Production Shop -- September 14, 2010

On our tour of Peoria Production Shop, we discovered how the non-profit agency, initially founded in 1941 to provide employment for recovering tuberculosis patients, has evolved into a comprehensive packaging, manufacturing, assembly, and custom labor business that employs individuals with all types of disabilities.

For more information about Peoria Production Shop, please visit www.peoriapros.com.

Vaughan Manufacturing & Pella Windows -- September 9, 2010

OLLI members enjoyed a beautiful fall day for our tour of Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing and Pella Windows in Bushnell and Macomb, Illinois.

On this tour, we learned how Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing has grown from a small maker of hand tools to one of the world’s largest producers of hammers, pry bars, hatchets, and more. After lunch in Macomb, we visited Pella Windows, one of the corporation’s 12 window manufacturing facilities in the United States.

For more information about our tours, visit hammernet.com and www.pella.com.

National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research -- September 8, 2010

In early September, we took our first of three tours of the National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria.

During our visit, we had the rare opportunity for a first-hand look at the lab, home to more than 100 Ph.D. research scientists who invent industrial and food products and develop technologies to improve environmental quality. We also had a chance to see the science at work and speak with professionals who conduct the groundbreaking research.

For more information about the NCAUR, visit its website.

Catholic Diocese of Peoria -- September 2, 2010

During our visit to the Spalding Pastoral Center, Patricia Kellogg, Associate Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools, explained how the various offices of the Diocese provide services to more than 250,000 people in 26 area counties. Our tour also included the Diocese’s museum, which houses artifacts and displays about the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose beatification is underway.

For more information about the Diocese, please visit its website.

Art Institute of Chicago -- September 1, 2010

On the first trip of Fall 2010, OLLI traveled to Chicago to visit the Art Institute.

Participants enjoyed a keynote lecture on Henri Cartier-Bresson by curator Matthew Witkovsky, gallery talks, artist demonstrations, and lunch in the Millennium Park Room. Some of the exhibits visited included “Looking After Louis Sullivan,” “A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today,” and “Arthur Pope and a New Survey of Persian Art.”

For more information about the exhibits, visit the Art Institute of Chicago website.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

O'Brien Field Tour and Chiefs Game -- August 30, 2010

Our last trip of Summer 2010 featured a visit to O’Brien Field, home of the Peoria Chiefs minor league baseball team.

Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen led a behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark and facilities. We even had a surprise visit from Chiefs patriarch and Peoria legend Pete Vonachen before the game. After the tour, we enjoyed our box seats in Wrigleyville, dined on a buffet dinner of hot dogs and burgers, then watched the Chiefs take on the Clinton LumberKings (the final score was Clinton 7, Peoria 2).

For more information about O'Brien Field and the Peoria Chiefs, visit the team's website.

Area Organic Farms -- August 19, 2010

Twenty OLLI members enjoyed a mid-August trip throughout Peoria County to visit local farms and business owners dedicated to organic growing practices.

The original itinerary was changed due to the June 5 tornado that hit Elmwood, Illinois, and damaged Basil's Harvest. As a result, we changed the tour to include lunch at Kickapoo Creek Winery in Edwards, then tours of Hart's Honey and Twisted Chicken Acres in Brimfield.

Janet Hart of Hart’s Honey gave a tour of her apiary in rural Brimfield. She discussed her beekeeping techniques, demonstrated how colonies are built from beeswax, and gave a (non-graded) quiz about bee facts and figures.

Leslie Schenkel, owner of Twisted Chicken Acres, was our second host of the day. She explained her growing techniques and her involvement with the Good Earth Food Alliance. In addition, Scott Wallace, District Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, was in attendance to explain how Leslie was awarded federal funds to construct two hoophouses.

Beer Tasting Class -- August 5, 2010

Pat Hartzler, local beer expert and account representative from Specialty Distributing Company, led more than a dozen OLLI members through the finer points of both domestics and imports during a beer tasting class at Two25 Restaurant in downtown Peoria.

During the two-hour class, participants explored six types of beer, including a pilsner, ale, weiss, pale ale, stout, and lambic. Pat also talked about craft beers, explained the brewing process, and discussed the "green" beer movement.

For more information, please visit the websites of Two25 Peoria and Specialty Distributing Company.

Lake Geneva -- August 11, 2010

Once again, the weather cooperated when OLLI visited Wisconsin for a tour on the U.S. Mailboat-Walworth in Lake Geneva and Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay.

Forty OLLI members were aboard the boat, which delivered mail to about 60 homes around the lake. The two-hour tour, which included commentary about many of the homes, featured a postal carrier who jumped off the bow of the boat while it was still moving, delivered the mail, grabbed any out-going parcels, and leapt back on to the stern of the boat before it passed by.

After a pasta buffet at Gino's East, we headed to nearby Williams Bay for a private tour of Yerkes Observatory, part of the University of Chicago's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. The hour-long tour featured a discussion of the latest astronomical research conducted at the observatory, plus a demonstration of the work'd largest lens-type telecope in the 90-foot dome.

For more information about our tours, please visit the websites of Lake Geneva Cruises and Yerkes Observatory.

Princeton and Festival 56 -- July 28, 2010

OLLI members spent a beautiful summer day exploring Princeton's cultural heritage in late July. The day began with breakfast and a presentation by Dexter Brigham, Executive Artistic Director of Festival 56, Illinois' largest summer theatre festival.

Brigham, a 1998 alumni of Bradley University, spent the morning with OLLI, sharing the history of Festival 56 and colorful anecdotes about growing up in Princeton. Before he left to prepare for the weekday matinee, he guided the group through a tour of the theatre's prop department.

After lunch at the locally owned Wine Cellar, we took a guided tour of Princeton's historic homes and buildings, then enjoyed the performance of "Moon Over Buffalo" at Princeton High School.

For more information about Princeton, please visit with city's website.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Peoria International Airport -- July 15, 2010

OLLI got a glimpse of the construction progression at the new terminal at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.

Gene Olson, Airport Authority Director, addressed the group and answered questions about taxes, budget for the new facility, and future development. In addition, a representative from Turner Construction of Peoria, general contractor, gave a tour of the new terminal building, which is set to open in January 2011.

For more information about the airport, please visit www.flypia.com.

OLLI Summer Picnic -- June 7, 2010

This summer's picnic was a celebration of the past and present on lower Grandview Drive.

More than 50 OLLI members met at the pavilion on lower Grandview Drive to enjoy lunch and listen as Marilyn Leyland, immediate past president of the Peoria Historical Society, gave a presentation about the history of the Grandview area.

One of the highlights of the presentation was the description of Al Fresco Amusement Park, a riverfront attraction on Galena Road from 1906 to 1929. The park, fashioned after the "White City" World's Exposition in Chicago, featured a Ferris wheel, aeiral swing, and roller coaster. Thousands of people would pack the park, many traveling via streetcars and paddleboats to watch concerts, boxing matches, and even Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

OLLI thanks Marilyn Leyland and all of its members who braved the summer heat to enjoy a day of history and camraderie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Illinois Shakespeare Festival -- June 24, 2010

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival at Ewing Manor in Bloomington has become another OLLI summer tradition.

This year, we had platinum plus tickets for an evening performance of "The Tempest." Dr. Susan Hillabold, who teachers a Shakespeare class and study group for us, accompanied our group of 40 to enrich our understanding of the play's subtleties.
During the ride to Bloomington, she encapsulated the plot of the play, pointed out the important characters and themes, and gave us four important points to watch for our discussion on the way home.

At the venue, we ate a gourmet catered picnic on the patio with wine, took a personalized backstage tour with the show's director, Deb Alley, enjoyed a musical performance in the dining area, then watched the show from our center section seats.

In all, it was another great evening of camraderie, learning, and travel with OLLI. Special thanks to Dr. Hillabold and the staff at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival for making our evening even more special!

Canoe the Kankakee -- June 30, 2010

Our 2009 canoe trip was such a success, we decided to do another one this year! On an incredibly beautiful, mild summer day, we tackled the Kankakee River in a 12-mile journey with scenic views and opportunities to observe creatures in their natural habitats.

The immense amount of rainfall in the previous month made our original route through Kankakee State Park impossible, so we instead paddled our way through Momence to Aroma Park, which was studded with numerous small islands and channels. Stacy Johnson, an interpreter from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, led our group of 26 canoes down the river, pointing out heron, swans, beavers, turtles, and even a river otter!

After our four-hour journey, Stacy spoke on the bus about the history of the river, the challenges wildlife are facing now, and answered a variety of questions about the habitat along the river.

OLLI thanks Stacy and the staff at Reed's Canoe Trips for helping us navigate the river safely and learning a bit along the way!

Emiquon and Dickson Mounds -- June 16, 2010

OLLI spent an amazing, beautiful summer day visiting the Emiquon floodplain restoration project and touring Dickson Mounds, one of the major on-site archaeological museums in the country.

In the morning, officials from The Nature Conservancy led us on a short hike atop a bluff to view the incredible watershed project. We were also treated to a presentation at an archeological dig conducted by Michigan State University students. After lunch, we traveled to Dickson Mounds Museum, where Alan Harm, an archeologist with 41 years experience, gave an amazing tour and presentation about the latest research and studies underway at the museum.

OLLI extends a big thank you to Deanna Zercher, Conservation Coordinator at the Nature Conservancy, and Alan Harm of Dickson Mounds for providing an incredible day!

Reception with Nancy Pearl -- June 14, 2010

OLLI members were treated to an exclusive private reception and book signing on Bradley's campus with Nancy Pearl, award-winning author and regular commentator on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

Nancy discussed her new book on travel, recommended fiction and non-fiction books, and signed copies of her bestselling “Book Lust” series during the reception.

Immediately following the OLLI-only event, Nancy gave a public presentation on "Dive Into a Good Book." Throughout the hour-long talk, she discussed her adventures as a judge for the Pulitizer Prize, her new favorite reads, and a list of recommended fiction and non-fiction books.

Her recommended reads are as follows:

Alan Bradley. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Frank Baker. Miss Hargreaves
S. J. Bolton. Blood Harvest
Justin Cronin. The Passage
Guy Gavriel Kay. Under Heaven
Michael Gruber. The Good Son
Georgina Howell. Gerturde Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
Emma Larkin. Finding George Orwell in Burma
Emily St. John Mandel. Last Night in Montreal and The Singer’s Gun
Daniel Mendelsohn. The Lost: A Search for 6 of 6 Million
Lisa Moore. February
Karl Marlantes. Matterhorn
Nathaniel Philbrick. The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and The Battle of the Little Big Horn
Helen Simonson. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Tatjana Soli. The Lotus Eaters

OLLI extends a big thank you to Nancy for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with our members.

Photo Experience II: June 11 and 18, 2010

One of our first summer trips of 2010 was a two-part photography adventure at Luthy Botanical Gardens in Peoria.

On day one, OLLI members met for a breakfast buffet at The Butcher Block at Junction City. Photography experts Ray Keithley and Barb Hoffman gave an interactive presentation about how to best photograph plants in the summer sun, and dispensed advise about how to utilize the tools in our digital cameras.

After breakfast and the presentation, we traveled to Luthy to explore the gardens, and photograph the plants, flowers, and statuary under the helpful guidance of Barb and Ray.

One week later, we met on campus to share our photos, discuss our themes and techniques, and then created three collage displays to showcase at our Fall OLLI class gathering.

Kudos to Ray and Barb, OLLI members and dedicated instructors, for another job well done!

Illinois River Update -- June 5, 2010

Steve Jaeger, Director of the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District (TransPORT), provided an interesting and informative presentation on the status of Illinois River commerce during a two-hour cruise on the Spirit of Peoria.

OLLI members enjoyed a buffet lunch on the first deck, then Steve explained how his group is charged with the task of fostering commerce through Central Illinois. TransPORT's enabling legislation mandates the responsibility to stimulate and promote commerce and cargo shipping within its district, and appoints it as an advocate for legislation that supports the attraction, maintenance, and growth of businesses within the region.

OLLI extends a big thank you to Steve for spending part of a Saturday afternoon educating its members on the latest regarding the Illinois River and its related commerce.

Greater Peoria Sanitary District -- May 27, 2010

Paul Keturi, Compliance Supervisor for the Greater Peoria Sanitary District (GPSD), led a tour of the facility on a late Spring day.

During our visit, we learned how wastewater is collected and treated to protect the environment in Peoria County, especially the creeks, streams, and Illinois River. Our private tour included a peek at some of the 650 miles of pipes used to collect the wastewater, details about how the plant treats an average of 25 million gallons from residential, commercial, and industrial customers, and a look at how the laboratory monitors the treatment process in order to meet the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency.

OLLI thanks Paul for providing an excellent tour and informative presentation!

Chicago Architecture -- May 26, 2010

As a follow-up to his incredibly popular Fall class on Chicago architecture, Bennett Johnson, retired architect and past president of the Chicago Art Deco Society, helped plan this walking tour and discussion of Chicago’s reputation as a world-class architectural city.

We were guided by Kathleen Murphy Skolnick, a colleague of Bennett, as we visited buildings with Chicago School, International, Deco, and Post-Modern designs, and took part in a wonderful discussion of the architects who brought the buildings to life. After lunch at the brand-new Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier, we boarded a boat at Ogden Slip for a delightful sightseeing cruise along the Chicago River.

OLLI thanks both Bennett and Kathleen for developing an interesting and educational trip to the Windy City!

Eureka College -- May 19, 2010

OLLI members spent a beautiful spring afternoon on the campus of Eureka College, alma mater of President Ronald Reagan.

Dr. Brian Sajko, who wears many hats at Eureka, including Vice President for Admissions, Communications and Integrated Marketing, Professor of Theatre Arts and Drama, and Curator of the Ronald Reagan Museum, was our guide throughout the day.

Brian gave an overview of the college, then led us on a private, guided tour of the Ronald Reagan Museum and the adjoining outdoor Peace Garden, which features a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Eureka College is home to 770 students on a 112-acre wooded campus in the small Woodford County town of the same name. The Ronald Reagan Museum features a collection of over 2,000 items from President Reagan's student days at Eureka, his movie and television career, his eight years as Governor of California, his campaign for presidency, and his two terms in office.

OLLI thanks Brian for spending time with us and providing such an interesting tour.

Archeology Adventure -- May 13, 2010

One of OLLI’s favorite instructors, Michael Wiant, Director of Dickson Mounds Museum, led us on an archeological adventure to two historic sites in Illinois: Starved Rock and Sinnissippi Park.

During this trip, Dr. Wiant uncovered the far-reaching story of Starved Rock and discussed the late Ice Age landscape between Peoria and Utica. After exploring Starved Rock, we ate lunch, then headed to Sterling to visit Sinnissippi Park, home to some of the few remaining Native American cemetery mounds in Illinois.

Once again, OLLI thanks Michael for yet another fascinating day of adventure, learning, and discovery!

A Day in Peoria Heights -- May 11, 2010

During this trip, we met local entrepreneurs who have made an impact on the village and heard first-hand accounts of how family-owned businesses began.

The day began with a family-style lunch at Basta Mangiare, followed by a visit to Village Hall with Manager Matt Fick and Mayor Mark Allen. We had planned to visit Tower Park for a panoramic view of the Illinois River Valley, but a mechanical malfunction sidetracked the visit to the top of the tower.

We then took tours and met with the owners and staff Pearl Insurance, I Know You Like a Book (bookstore), and Picture This Gallery.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people in Peoria Heights who welcomed OLLI and taught us about its history and economic development.

Fermilab and Cantigny -- May 20, 2010

It was another incredible day of educational variety when OLLI traveled north to visit Fermilab in Batavia and Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Fermilab's Tevatron is a landmark particle accelerator; at 3.9 miles in circumference, it is the world's second largest energy particle accelerator (CERN's Large Hadron Collider is the largest).

OLLI spent more than 90 minutes touring Fermilab's Wilson Hall, then had the opportunity for a private question-and-answer session with a scientist (who himself was retiring in three days). After a short drive to Wheaton, we arrived on the grounds of Cantigny, the former esttate of Robert R. McCormick. There, we dined at Le Jardin and took private tours of the First Division Museum, the McCormick Museum, and roamed the largest display gardens in the midwest.

Thank you to the staff at Fermilab and Cantigny for providing educational presentations throughout the day for our OLLI members.

Geology Hike -- May 7, 2010

Ed Stermer, Earth Science Professor at Illinois Central College, was back to lead us on a hike and fossil hunt at Kankakee River State Park and Mazon Creek.

During the hike, Ed discussed the geological aspects of the Rock Creek Canyon Trail, including limestone cliffs and waterfalls. After lunch, we explored the fossil beds at the Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area.

OLLI extends its thanks to Professor Stermer for providing another incredible day of learning in the outdoors!

Day in Pekin -- May 5, 2010

Janet Lange, Executive Director of Continuing Education, was our guide as we spent the day touring attractions in her hometown.

The City of Pekin, population 33,857, is located along the eastern bank of the Illinois River and is rich in both agricultural and industrial heritage.

Our first stop was the Pekin Union Mission, where Director Scott Lange talked about its history and influence on generations of Pekin's "river folk." Next, we walked to the historic Tazewell County Courthouse for a tour of the building and a talk with legal professionals. We then drove along the Illinois River and through older neighborhoods for a look at historical homes.

Next, Henry Cakora met us at Mineral Springs Park Sunken Garden to discuss his creation known as the World's Greatest Sundial. During his talk, he explained how how the sundial was his quest for an education in celestial naviagation, then showed OLLI members how to predict the point of sunrise and sunset using the device.

After lunch in the park pavilion, we heard a presentation by Terri Gambetti of the Pekin Park District, then traveled to the Dirksen Congressional Center to learn more about the late Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, a civil rights leader from Pekin. Our day concluded with a brief tour ofthe Dragon Dome, an indoor recreation facility on the edge of town.

OLLI thanks all of our hosts for making us feel so welcome during our visit to Pekin.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Civil War Tour, Day 8 -- May 5, 2010

On Tuesday morning, we left Columbus, Ohio, and drove south to Cincinnati for our visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum, where no cameras were allowed. We were greeted by our guide, Christopher Davis, who directed our “Highlights Tour” and told us why Cincinnati was so important to the Underground Railroad.

Kentucky was a slave state, and Ohio was a free state. With Covington, KY directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, many slaves crossed the river on their route to freedom. The historical perspective was presented in a two-part film, with the first part narrated by Oprah Winfrey. She introduced the main historical figures John Parker and the Rev. John Rankin, who were abolitionists in nearby Ripley, OH. The second part of the film was shown in an "experiential" theater and portrayed a young female slave who was trying to escape her captors. The presentation was very suspenseful as we watched the sons of Rev. Rankin help the woman up a large hill just in time to evade the slave hunters.

We learned that – of all the slaves captured in Africa – only 5% came to America, but during our visit we saw many exhibits that told the stories of life as a slave. Exhibits include an authentic “slave pen,” a building used to hold slaves before they were sold. The building, from the early 1800’s, was donated to the Freedom Center by a Kentucky farmer who found the structure on his land. Another feature of the museum is a genealogical research center, where visitors can use the resources for free. We left the National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum with a deeper understanding of slavery, past and present.

After a fantastic dinner at the Beef House in Covington, Indiana, our band of travelers boarded the bus for the final leg of our trip home.
As a group, we had traveled over 1800 miles and thoroughly enjoyed nine museums, three Civil War battlefield sites, sixteen unique meals, six historically significant restaurants, eight days and seven nights of travel, and the teaching of two phenomenal Civil War experts.

Many thanks to Bernie Drake (Peoria Historical Society) and Rev. Dr. Randy Saxon (United Presbyterian Church) for their engaging learning activities and “on-the-move” lectures. They kept us on our toes and patiently answered our questions while enriching our understanding of the Civil War, military strategy, and the people and places affected by the “War of Northern Aggression.”

Thanks also to Peoria Charter Coach for providing our transportation and to Don Farden, Professional Motorcoach Driver…extraordinaire. Don maneuvered our coach in and out of some very narrow streets and many tight spaces while delivering excellent customer service at every stop.

Finally, thanks to Michelle Riggio, Continuing Education Program Director, who created and maintained the blog while the group was on the road.

We hope that you have enjoyed following our adventures as we explored the places, people, and events of the Civil War. Until next time…

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Civil War Tour, Day 7 -- May 4, 2010

We boarded the bus early in the morning for a travel day. Driving from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Columbus, Ohio, we made a lunch stop in Washington, Pennsylvania.

The Spring House is part of a working dairy farm that was started in 1975 by Sam and Bev Minor and their five children. The family milked the cows and processed and bottled the milk on site. The restaurant where we enjoyed our lunch was originally a roadside cheese stand, and the official drink of the Springhouse is chocolate milk. Many members of our group tried the milk and declared it delicious! Our travelers also enjoyed the baked goods and yummy ice cream.

After lunch, in the heart of Washington, PA, we toured the home of Dr. Francis LeMoyne, an abolitionist. We learned from our guides that Francis enjoyed “stirring up trouble” wherever he went. Before he began working against slavery, he initiated education for young women in his area and established the Female Seminary in Washington County. LeMoyne attended Harvard and his roommate was none other than John F. Kennedy; the two young men became quite close. According to our guide, while President Kennedy occupied the White House, he reserved a suite of rooms and made them available for Francis LeMoyne’s visits. When LeMoyne died, many of the Kennedy family members attended his funeral.

We were not able to take photos in the LeMoyne house, so we don’t have any to share. However, the tour was interesting, and we were amazed at the number of causes Francis LeMoyne adopted.

We drove on to Pickerington, Ohio, where we enjoyed a less historical dinner at Max & Erma’s, and then we checked into the hotel for the last night of our tour.

Civil War Tour, Day 6 -- May 3, 2010

On Sunday, May 2, we departed from Gettysburg and stopped the bus for a moment of silence to remember the people who were affected by the fighting. We then moved south for our tours - Antietam in the morning and Harper’s Ferry in the afternoon.

Lt. Col. (ret) Jim Rosebrock met us at the visitors’ center and gave us an overview of the Battle of Antietam before taking us out to the site. The battle, which was the bloodiest day in U. S. history, occurred on September 17, 1862, about nine months prior to the three-day battle at Gettysburg. The military leaders included Union General George McClellan of the Army of the Potomac and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.
McClellan was known to be a procrastinator in battle. We learned that he was well versed in battle strategies but was not as aggressive as President Abraham Lincoln would have liked; consequently, Lincoln and McClellan were sometimes at odds.

The Battle of Antietam yielded over 26,000 casualties for that one day. We visited The Cornfield, where 8000 soldiers were wounded, killed, or considered missing early that morning. The area around the Sunken Road added to that number.

Our afternoon was spent at the area around Harper’s Ferry, which was a booming metropolis in its day. Sitting at the point where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River, Harper’s Ferry was highly prized for the supplies that were available there, particularly munitions. Bolivar Heights offers spectacular views and three states – Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia come together there. We also visited the Murphy farm, from which we were able to look down on the Shenandoah River. Upon arrival in lower town Harper’s Ferry, we walked the brick streets and enjoyed ice cream on a hot day.

On our way to Hagerstown, Maryland, we stopped in Boonsboro for dinner at the Old South Mountain Inn.

Civil War Tour, Day 5 -- May 2, 2010

Since the Battle of Gettysburg spanned three days, we asked for three separate two-hour tours so we could learn more details of the fighting and personal stories of the people involved. Yesterday was our first tour, and we were lucky to have the same guide, David Hamacher, showing us around the battlefield areas in the morning and the afternoon.

Because the Gettysburg landscape is full of hills and valleys, we were reminded that holding the high ground was critically important to the soldiers. Little Round Top looked like a small hill until we saw the breathtaking view from the top. Although the climb would have been difficult, soldiers used teams of horses to pull cannons up a logging path on the back side of the hill. Then they set up their artillery to repel the enemy forces below.

We learned that battle locations were named differently, depending on the point of view. Union forces named battles based on topographical features while Confederates named battles using their names for the towns. Therefore, what the North called the “Battle of Antietam” (based on Antietam Creek) was named by Southerners as the “Battle of Sharpsburg,” which was the closest town.

Names of locations also changed depending on the events that occurred in the area. For example, “Plum Creek” became “Bloody Run”; the base of “Little Round Top” was changed to “Slaughter Pen” because of the number of soldiers who died in those areas. The small town of Gettysburg (population around 2400) was suddenly invaded by almost 176,000 soldiers and had to turn its homes into hospitals to treat the wounded. Standing in the now-peaceful places, we thought often about the casualties of war, and it was difficult to imagine the sights and sounds of the three-day battle.

We ended our day with a buffet dinner at Dobbin House, which was built in 1776. The home, now a restaurant, is the oldest building in Gettysburg.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Civil War Tour, Day 4 -- May 1, 2010

Our first stop of the day was the Gettysburg Visitor’s Center, where we saw an introductory film and the recently restored Cyclorama – a 360-degree painting of the Battle of Gettysburg. First exhibited in 1884, the painting-in-the-round measures 377 feet around and 42 feet high and creates a multimedia experience for visitors with lights and sound. Hearing the sounds of battle from all directions was quite an experience, and we left the exhibit feeling rather shell shocked.

After viewing some of the exhibits, we embarked on a side trip to the Eisenhower Farm, the only property that Mamie and Dwight D. (Ike) owned. The weather was perfect – sunny, not too hot, but with a lovely breeze.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed the first of three battlefield tours and learned about the events of day one’s battle. David Hamacher, a licensed battlefield guide, joined us on our motor coach and gave us great insights into the Battle of Gettysburg. By standing in the battlefields, we learned how the lay of the land affected the fighting through the first day, and we are eager to learn more tomorrow!

Our dinner destination was the Farnsworth House, a restaurant near our hotel. We learned that the building, like many private homes, had been turned into a hospital after the battle began. Our server also told us that the place is known to be haunted. Whether or not that is a fact, we saw film crews from the Discovery Channel filming stories about ghosts in several Gettysburg locations!

Civil War Tour, Day 3 -- April 30, 2010

We ate our breakfast on the hotel’s enclosed veranda and then loaded our luggage onto the bus. After a short jaunt across the river, we arrived at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. Interestingly, the museum opened in 2001, but no one on our tour had seen it. The museum sits high on a hill and offers a beautiful panoramic view of Harrisburg’s hills and valleys.

Bob McClosky, a retired social studies teacher, greeted us as we entered the museum and shared some stories with us. He also showed us reproductions of the items that Civil War soldiers would have carried, and we were surprised to learn that bayonets were most often used as candle holders!

Entering the main part of the museum gave us the opportunity for interactive immersion into Civil War times. We viewed many artifacts including flags, weapons, medical kits, decoding devices, and items from slave trading. A sword from the Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic of Peoria, Illinois, is proudly displayed in a glass case. The sword was a gift to President Ulysses S. Grant at his second inauguration.

Our days, even the meals, are filled with history. Today, we ate lunch at the Appalachian Brewing Company. Our hosts told us that the building had been a paper factory at one time and was destroyed by the second largest fire in Harrisburg. After our lunch, we boarded the bus again for a one-hour drive to Gettysburg and a wonderful dinner at the historic Fairfield Inn, which is located about eight miles outside of Gettysburg. As we entered, the manager welcomed each guest and then told us about the 252 year-old building. After dinner, we drove back to the 1863 Inn at Gettysburg for the night.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Case International Harvest Plant -- April 29, 2010

OLLI traveled to nearby Woodford County for a private tour of the Case International Harvester plant in Goodfield, Illinois.

During our tour, learned how the facility, founded in 1961 by a local farmer, now produces the “Cadillac” of tillage equipment.

Case International Harvester is a world leader in the agricultural and construction equipment business, employing 31,500 people worldwide with a network of 11,300 dealers in 170 countries.

The Goodfield facility’s product offerings include vertical tillage units, disk rippers, and disk harrows.

OLLI thanks Kari Schmidt and the staff at Case IH for making us feel welcome during our visit. (We love our hats, too!)

For more information about the facility, please visit the Case IH website.

Civil War Tour, Day 2 -- April 28, 2010

Our day began with breakfast at our hotel and an hour’s drive to New Concord, Ohio, the birthplace of Senator (and hero astronaut) John Glenn. We saw a short film about the Glenn family and then toured the home. This site is very special for two reasons: first…because local actors re-enact parts of daily life during WWII; and second…because our hosts opened the home for us when they are usually closed.

During our tour, we “met” John Glenns’s mother, Clara, who explained the difficulties of life when food, fuel, and other necessities were rationed. She showed us her milk bottles, the sign for the ice man, and the coupons that she used to buy gasoline. Clara also asked how we ever accumulated enough gasoline coupons to drive our large charter coach!

The cozy home, which had been purchased through the Sears catalog, has four bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, and one bathroom. Munsinger University, which is located in New Concord, had no residence halls for students in the early days, so many area families, the Glenns included, rented rooms to students. “Clara Glenn” is very proud of her son and showed us many treasured photos of him.

During our visit to New Concord, we learned that the town sent 70% of its young men to fight against slavery in the Civil War.

After our delightful tour of the John and Annie Glenn home, we drove east along The National Road (Route 40) to historic Cambridge, Ohio, and enjoyed a scrumptious buffet lunch at Theo’s. Of course, the pies were the most popular item!

For the afternoon, we continued east along Interstate 70 through Ohio, a corner of West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania toward Harrisburg. After checking in at the Radisson Hotel just west of Harrisburg, we ate at an award-winning restaurant, the Firehouse. The building, formerly a fire station, was full of interesting artifacts and news clippings from the early days of firefighting.

After our dinner, we returned to the hotel for a good night's rest before starting the next adventure.

The Civil War Tour, Day 1 -- April 27, 2010

Our adventure began at the United Presbyterian Church very early on Tuesday, April 21. Thirty-seven happy travelers (some a wee bit sleepy!) boarded our charter coach for the drive to Dayton, Ohio and our first destination.

Upon arrival at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, our guide stepped on the coach to tell us about the highlights of the site. We had a quick lunch and then took off to explore the three hangars that house the exhibits. From examples of the earliest attempts at flight to some of the more sophisticated fighter planes from WWII, we were able to see the progression of the development of flight. One section of the museum is devoted to comedian Bob Hope, who entertained generations of troops.

Several of our group members left the main museum to tour the hangar of presidential planes, including Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman (The Independence), Dwight Eisenhower (Columbine), and the first Air Force One (used for Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and George H.W. Bush). One building holds many types of experimental planes that were developed to test theories of flight. After two hours of exploration, we traveled to Columbus, Ohio for dinner at the Schmidt Haus in German Village. Everyone enjoyed the brick streets, the quaint old buildings, and a delicious German buffet before retiring for the night in Pickerington, Ohio.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Day in St. Louis -- Friday, April 23, 2010

Terese Bolla, expert on St. Louis' hidden gems (and wife of our Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs) was our guide as we spent a day exploring some of the city’s fascinating sites.

The day began with a private tour of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, best known for its large mosaic installation and burial crypts. The Cathedral was designated a basilica by Pope John Paul II on April 4, 1997.

Next, we took private tours of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA), and the Samuel Cupples House and Gallery, both located on the campus of St. Louis University.

MOCRA is the world's first interfaith museum of contemporary art that engages religious and spiritual themes. The current exhibition, Good Friday, includes works by over 30 artists of diverse backgrounds who have used the events of the day of Jesus’ death as inspiration for their own reflections on such themes as faith, suffering, loss, compassion, and unconditional love. Cupples House, a historic 42-room, castle-like mansion, is a rare example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in St. Louis and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Following a drive through the neighborhoods of Lafayette Square and Soulard, we dined at the fabulous Soulard's Restaurant and Bar. OLLI thanks Dan Badock and his staff for a warm welcome and wonderful food!

OLLI ended the day with a tour of the Old Historical Courthouse, and tram ride to the top of the St. Louis Arch.

For more information about the sites we toured, please visit these websites:

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis


Samuel Cupples House

Soulard's Restaurant

Old Historical Courthouse and St. Louis Arch

Italian Ethnic Dinner -- Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Ethnic Dinner is fast becoming an OLLI tradition. This season, we celebrated the Italian culture (and the 81st anniversary of the Italian American Society of Peoria) with a relaxing evening of Italian music, a presentation about the Italian-Americans in Peoria, and, of course, delicious food.

Kathie Bartolo, a member of both OLLI and the Italian-American Society of Peoria, discussed her Italian heritage and demonstrated how to make pasta. The evening’s menu included baked mostaccioli, chicken breast cacciatore, Italian green beans, fresh Italian green salad with olive oil vinaigrette, garlic herb bread, fresh parmesan cheese, and fresh cannoli with pistachios and chocolate chips.

OLLI thanks Kathie for her lively presentation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

OLLI Endowment Announcement -- Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To read media coverage about this event, click on the following links:

Peoria Journal Star

Bradley University website article

Lydia's Blog

San Francisco-based The Bernard Osher Foundation awarded Bradley University a $1 million endowment to continue lifelong learning at Bradley University. The announcement was made by campus officials on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.

“The progress the Institute has made since receiving its initial support from the Foundation…has been outstanding, and we congratulate you…on your remarkable achievements,” said Osher Foundation President Mary Bitterman.

The endowment funds will be invested by Bradley University with the resulting interest being used to partially fund salaries and other costs to support OLLI. This gift will enable Bradley to direct resources to increase programs and services for new and existing OLLI members.

With this achievement, OLLI at Bradley now embarks on a new quest to grow its membership and expand its programming. Significant is that this growth will be influenced by the members who work hand-in-hand with the Continuing Education staff to guide the program.

Bradley University President Joanne Glasser considers OLLI a great attribute Bradley offers the central Illinois community. “This gift is recognition of the great value OLLI brings to our community and our campus. It is my hope that OLLI members will forever consider Bradley your educational home.”

With the $1 million endowment from The Bernard Osher Foundation, OLLI at Bradley is now nationally recognized as a program of distinction for learners age 50 and beyond.

The grant was announced Wednesday at a luncheon on Bradley’s campus before more than 125 OLLI members.

OLLI at BU is an organization that specializes in the learning found in three settings—classes on campus led by university and community volunteers, educational travel throughout the state and country hosted by behind-the-scenes experts, and study groups where members are both resources and participants. The result is a vibrant community of learners who are continuing their education well into their post-career lives.

Bradley University Continuing Education, in affiliation with the The Bernard Osher Foundation and the Elderhostel Institute Network, sponsor the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Illinois Historical Water Museum -- Thursday, April 15, 2010

OLLI had the chance to take one of the last tours of the Illinois American Water Plant and Historical Water Museum this spring before it closes for construction updates.

The museum, which recently reinstated its public tours for the first time since September 11, 2001, is housed in a 119-year-old red sandstone pumping station that features turrets and gargoyles on the roof.

During our tour, we visited the observatory, laboratory, and had the opportunity to view historical instruments, displays, and replicas inside the station.

For more information about Illinois American Water, please visit its website.

Ropp Jersey Cheese and Twin Groves Wind Farm -- Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We've seen the massive wind turbines popping up all along the interstates, and OLLI got a chance to learn about the technology first-hand when we visited Twin Groves Wind Farm.

The farm, located in eastern McLean County, houses 240 Vesta turbines that produce enough energy to power nearly 118,000 Illinois homes each year. Our tour, which included time on an outlook platform to view a turbine, was guided by one of the 130 landowners who participate in Twin Groves with long-term leases that cover the wind rights.

Also included in this trip was a visit to Ropp Jersey Cheese, a family-owned dairy farm in Normal. While at Ropp's, we had the opportunity to watch the cheese-making process, feed calves, milk cows, and sample fresh cheese!

For more information about these farms, please visit Twin Groves Wind Farm and Ropp Jersey Cheese.

Larry Kanfer Gallery and Frasca International -- Thursday, April 8, 2010

OLLI members experienced an incredible day of private, behind-the-scenes tours when we traveled to two commercial ventures in Champaign County.

Our first stop was a visit to the gallery of Larry Kanfer, a premier photographer of Midwest landscapes whose artwork is showcased in collections nationwide. Kanfer spoke about his photography and led us through the gallery he opened nearly 30 years ago, which features five rooms of original artwork, an atrium gallery, and an outdoor courtyard.

After lunch at the historic Silvercreek restaurant, we headed to Frasca International in Urbana, a company that designs and manufactures a variety of flight simulators and training equipment for airlines, flight schools, and military organizations worldwide.

For more information about the sites we visited, please visit these websites:

Larry Kanfer Gallery


Frasca International

Peoria County Sheriff's Department and County Jail -- Thursday, April 1, 2010

Peoria Sheriff Mike McCoy led OLLI members on a behind-the-scenes tour of his department and attached jail earlier this spring.

During the tour, we learned how highly qualified officers handle criminal investigations and protect County residents. Our visit included administrative offices, briefing rooms, and the crime lab. In addition, we walked through the lockup portion of the facility and experienced the jail's new technological advances, including the closed-circuit bonding system, computerized mug shot and booking system, and the live scan fingerprint processing system.

OLLI thanks Sheriff McCoy and his staff for making us feel welcome during our visit.

For more information about the Peoria County Sheriff's Department, please visit its website.

OSF Milestone Project -- Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OLLI members had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Peoria's largest construction project during a tour of the OSF St. Francis Medical Center's Milestone Project.

Slated for an August 2010 opening, the 456,000 square-foot building has nine floors for an emergency department, surgery and cardiovascular procedures, neonatal intensive care, pediatric critical care, St. Jude Midwest Affiliate, adult heart unit, general pediatrics, and helipad.

Our private, hard hat tour was given by one of the two managers of the $280 million project that began in July 2007. Of special interest was the interior design of each floor, which was based on a prayer composed by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224. The Canticle of the Sun praises God with His creatures: the sun, moon, wind, water, fire and earth.

As we toured the new expansion, OLLI members saw special symbols on each floor, each one a reference to the prayer. The symbols and color palette are designed to be soothing and reassuring for patients, and provide an easy way to identify each particular floor. The Emergency Department's decor is "All Creatures," the Surgery Floor is "Earth," the 2nd floor is "Fire and Light," the neonatal ICU is "Wind and Air," the Pediatric Critical Care floor is "Water," the adult heart unit is "Sun," and the general pediatrics floor is "Moon and Stars."

OLLI thanks Rebecca Heisler of OSF for coordinating this incredible tour. For more information about the Milestone Project, please visit its website.

United States District Courthouse -- Thursday, March 25, 2010

Federal courts are established under the U.S. Constitution by Congress to decide disputes involving the Constitution and laws passed by Congress. During this trip, OLLI learned about the legal process during a visit to the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

We received a private tour of the facility from Holly Kallister, Division Manager of the Federal Court Clerk's Office, viewed a trial in session, and visited with Magistrate John A. Gorman, who answered our questions about the court.

For more information about the District Court, please visit its website.

Rock Island Arsenal and John Deere Experience -- Friday, March 19

Our trip to the Quad Cities began with a guided tour of the Rock Island Arsenal, an active U.S. Army facility located on a 946-acre island on the Mississippi River. A step-on docent highlighted more than a dozen sites at the National Historic Landmark, including the Confederate Cemetery, Colonel Davenport House, Fort Armstrong, and the Government Bridge. Before we left the island, we had a chance to visit the Arsenal Museum, renowned for its premier firearms collection.

After lunch, we toured the John Deere Harvester Works and Seeding Factory, the largest, most modern combine manufacturing facility in the world. OLLI members rode on moving carts during the tour of the 200-acre plant and experienced the main production line from start to finish.

After a brief stop at Country Manor Chocolates, where OLLI members had the opportunity to create edible cups, we ended the day at the John Deere Pavilion, Illinois' most popular and comprehensive agriculture exhibit.

For more information about the sites we visited, please visit these websites:

The Rock Island Arsenal

John Deere Attractions

Country Manor Chocolates

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Murray Center for the Arts -- March 11

Read a local news link related to this trip.

Lori Luthy, creative director for Bradley’s Undergraduate Admissions Office (and freelance artist), was our personal guide as we toured the Murray Center for the Arts.

The 76-year-old industrial building in downtown Peoria houses the largest group of working artists in the area. During our visit, Lori introduced OLLI to a handful of the 25 local artists who rent studios in the facility, including herself, Ken Tiessen, Jim Jenkins, and Tyler Brandon.

OLLI thanks Lori and each of the artists for talking about their work, how they got started as artists, and for demonstrating their talent while we observed.

Cranes and Equipment -- March 10

Our second learning trip of the Spring took us just down the hill from Bradley University to Cranes & Equipment Corporation.

We spent over two hours with Company President Joan Ausbury, who led our tour and explained how the company evolved from a part-time business in her basement to a five-acre facility in downtown Peoria that sells and services cranes around the world.

Special thanks to Joan and her staff for providing an informative tour!

For more information about Cranes & Equipment Corporation, please visit its website.

Midwest Food Bank -- March 3

On our first trip of Spring 2010, we took a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the Midwest Food Bank in Peoria and spoke with Larry Herman, division director, about the donations, distributions, and volunteers that allow the non-profit facility to feed more than 225,000 people each month.

The food bank distributes food to over 600 organizations that provide food goods to members of their communities in need. It is able to distribute the food at no cost due to the immense numbers of volunteers; according to Herman, 99.87% of all donations go to program costs rather than administrative expenses. He estimates that each donated dollar ultimately funds nearly $20 in wholesale value food.

Midwest Food Bank, located at 9005 N. Industrial Road, receives food from manufacturers, distributors, grocers, food drives, and individuals. The overall distribution of the facility (and its sister sites in Normal and Indiana) approaches $2 million monthly.

The Peoria facility is currently partnering with ADM and the University of Illinois to develop nutritious dry mix meals known as Tender Mercies. Using rice from Arkansas, vegetable protein from ADM and flavoring from Watson Company, the bags of food will be heat-sealed, labeled, and distributed to Haiti and within America. The facility had enough product on hand during our visit to make 600,000 servings; volunteers will package it and the overall cost will be less than ten cents per serving.

OLLI extends its thanks to Larry Hermann and Chris Roecker from Midwest Food Bank for making us feel so welcome during our visit.

To learn more about Midwest Food Bank, please visit its website.

"Let's Think About This" Study Group

Greg Peine, OLLI member and Caterpillar Inc. retiree, facilitated this group from February 16 to March 4. During the meetings, he incorporated several activities to help members identify and discuss the contradictions that can exist between intuition (beliefs) and reality (the state of things as they actually exist).

Focusing on the topics of chance, geometry, and cause-and-effect, the group used coin flipping, dice rolling, cutting and pasting geometric figures, making a mobius strip, building hula hoops, running a class factory, and more to help learn how their intuitions match reality.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Leading Across Generations -- February 19, 2010

Who would guess that a pair of shoes could cause friction? That’s where last week’s “Leading Across Generations” workshop started—with a pair of flip flops.

Hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Bradley, the workshop placed over 100 Bradley students, staff, and OLLI members in multi-age work groups discussing generational differences. The shoes served as a perfect analogy for identifying how your age can influence your behavior.

“Flip flops were the lowest form of footwear when I was young,” said facilitator Haydn Shaw. “You wore them to the shower at the campground. But today, flip flops are worn at work,” he continued.

Hayden’s workshop highlighted that for the first time in history, four generations are in the workforce: Traditionalists (born between 1901 – 1943); Baby Boomers (born between 1944 – 1964); Gen Xers (born between 1965 – 1981); and Millennials (born between 1982 – 2003). Each generation has its own perspectives, styles, and biases, and these make the work place an environment where values may collide.

“Beyond work, these values show up in our families, our churches, our little leagues, and the way we live,” said Shaw.

Workshop participants, representing the four generations, engaged in activities and discussions about their generational differences. “I wore a suit and tie for 37 years,” said retiree, Gil Nolde, as his student counterparts, dressed in jeans and, yes, flip flops, shook their heads sympathetically.

Throughout the 4-hour workshop, the tone shifted from hilarity to reflection as participants challenged their own generational stereotypes and learned that differences, while sometimes tense, are also good starting points for real dialogue.

“We observe that younger generations have advantages that we didn’t have, but we don’t see the challenges they have that we didn’t,” said Shaw noting that most children in his generation could play “til the streetlights come on” but that today’s parents are concerned about safety and focusing on “stranger danger.”

“When it comes to the challenge of leading across different generations, great leaders see opportunities where others see only problems,” writes Shaw in his guide, “21 Day Challenge.” “Great leaders don’t ignore differences…they embrace them.”

Special thanks to Carla Montez, Marketing Director for Continuing Education, for writing this article!

To learn what Lydia Moss Bradley thought of the workshop, be sure to visit her blog!

Blog Archive