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!

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.

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