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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy OLLIdays Spelling Bee Brunch -- December 7, 2011

More than two dozen OLLI members were in attendance to participate in and cheer on spellers at our inaugural spelling bee brunch at Kickapoo Creek Winery.

After enjoying a brunch with mimosas and bloody marys, the spellers competed for over an hour, tackling words such as leviathan, orthographize, lugubrious, aborigine, and elucidate.

Mary Barthel spelled stalactite correctly to win the championship. Joanne Haupt was runner-up, and Pam Anderson was the third place winner (50 years to the day after winning her ninth grade spelling bee!)

OLLI thanks all of the participants and spectators for making this first-ever event a success. Happy holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Festival of Lights -- November 22, 2011

Just days before the East Peoria Festival of Lights parade, OLLI had the chance to see the “Folepi Construction Company” and some of its “employees:” a merry band of volunteers who design and build the floats.

We met volunteers who work year-round designing, welding, and maintaining the floats (and their 500,000 lights) and learned how the floats evolve from concept to actuality. OLLI thanks Rick Swan of the Chamber of Commerce and Ralph Dalton, volunteer, for hosting our gang!

For more information about the Festival of Lights, visit www.cityofeastpeoria.com.

Historic Galena -- November 10, 2011

Bernie Drake, frequent OLLI instructor and Ulysses S. Grant expert, was our guide as we visited the historic town of Galena.

The day included a step-on tour of the town, a private tour of the Grant home, lunch and tour of the new Galena Brewing Company, free time to explore the town’s historic Main Street, and a visit to the Galena History Museum.

182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard -- November 16, 2011

OLLI traveled to the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard in mid-November for a tour of the base. During our visit, Colonel William Robertson (’83), the Wing Commander, led our group as we learned about the Wing’s mission of maintenance, flying operations, and air support to the Army, Security Forces, and much more.

Thanks to COL Robertson for an intriguing look at our citizen soldiers and their worldwide missions.

For more information about the 182nd, please visit www.182aw.ang.af.mil.

Illinois State Museum -- November 17, 2011

Dr. Michael Wiant, Director of Dickson Mounds Museum and frequent OLLI instructor, was our host as we visited two Springfield sites dedicated to historical preservation: the Illinois State Museum and the Illinois State Research and Collections Center.

Dr. Wiant and Dr. Bonnie Styles, Director of the Illinois State Museum, provided a glimpse of the state’s collections, which ranges from hundreds of dragonflies to a dozen mastodons, with archaeology, geology, and decorative arts in between.

OLLI thanks Drs. Wiant and Styles for an amazing day of learning and adventure! For more information about the museum, please visit www.museum.state.il.us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Excel Foundry -- November 9, 2011

On this trip, we learned about Excel, which specializes in the design, manufacture, and supply of replacement parts for equipment used in open pit mining and aggregate production.

During the tour, we saw first-hand how the company engineers site-specific spare parts for cone crushers, hydraulic excavators, electric rope shovels, and more.

Rockford - November 1, 2011

Jim Wilhelm, host of WTVP’s “Illinois Adventure” series, was back by popular demand to accompany us on another trip – this time to two unique sites in Rockford.

Our first stop was a tour of Historic Auto Attractions, a 36,000 square-foot facility that features the world’s largest collection of presidential limousines. After lunch, we toured the 1865 Tinker Swiss Cottage, a rare example of Victorian exotic architecture.

Gilded Age Homes -- October 27, 2011

OLLI teamed with the Fine Arts Society of Peoria for unique tours of the Samuel Nickerson Mansion (Driehaus Museum), the Glessner House, and the Clarke House.

Between tours, we dined at Lawry’s Prime Rib, formerly known as the Leander H. McCormick Mansion, and learned about its storied history.

Bennett Johnson, retired architect and frequent OLLI instructor, accompanied our group to provide insight throughout the day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rocky Glen Hike -- October 17, 2011

Rocky Glen, comprised of 97 acres along Kickapoo Creek Road in West Peoria, is a hidden gem of geologic importance.

We learned about the site during a two-hour private hike with Ed Stermer, geology expert and earth science professor at Illinois Central College, and David Pittman, President of the Friends of Rocky Glen.

For more information about Rocky Glen, visit www.friendsofrockyglen.org

Irish Ethnic Dinner -- October 13, 2011

October brought about another OLLI tradition – the ethnic dinner! The after-hours event at Kickapoo Creek Winery was a celebration of Irish culture and cuisine, themed “Eirinn Go Brach,” Gaelic for “Ireland Forever.”

The Bogside Zukes, a local favorite, began the evening by playing some favorite tunes and providing insight about the history of traditional Irish music. After dinner, which included Irish favorites such as Guinness stew, cabbage, and soda bread, Leo Jordan, OLLI member and a founding member of Friends of Clonmel, delighted us with a presentation about Irish culture and Peoria’s sister city relationship with Clonmel, Ireland.

Culinary Arts in Mount Carroll -- October 11, 2011

OLLI spent the day in Mount Carroll with stained glass and wood carving artisans, sustainable farmers, and innovative culinary chefs.

Upon our arrival in small northwest Illinois town, we met our step-on guide and enjoyed private tours and presentations. At the Kraft Building, 320 N. Main, we split up for some small workshops: a wood sculpting demonstration with sculptor Jack Kromer of Kromer Art, and three doors down, a glass workshop with stained glass artisan Mary Kiernan from New Morning Glass.

Our culinary presentation was led by Pat Lehnhardt of Learn Great Foods, a company that specializes in educating consumers about sustainable food. Our three-course lunch featured Greek salad with Israeli couscous, fresh green salad with herb vinaigrette, locally raised beef and mushrooms over polenta, and apple crepes from Fairhaven fruits.

Our last stop of the day was a visit with Tom Nedbal at his apple orchard, Fairhaven Fruit Farm, corner of Fairhaven and Creamery Roads, Thomson, Illinois.

Utica -- October 6, 2011

The autumn colors provided a beautiful backdrop for a hike at Starved Rock State Park, a trolley tour of Utica, and a boat ride along the I&M Canal.

Our morning hike included a walk to the bottom of a canyon and to the top of Starved Rock, where we were fortunate to see bald eagles soaring above the river.

Later in the afternoon, The Volunteer took us on a historic journey to 1848, where costumed narrators aboard the boat explained the construction of the canal while we are pulled along the waterway by mules (Larry and Moe).

Midwest Technical Institute -- October 4, 2011

In early October, OLLI visited Midwest Technical Institute is a year-round vocational school providing course offerings in a variety of vocational fields.

Our tour of the East Peoria campus included insight into the eight programs it provides for future welders, heating/air conditioning/appliance repair technicians, medical and dental assistants, medical coders, massage therapists, basic nursing assistants, and pharmacy technicians.

For more information about the institute, visit www.midwesttech.edu

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peoria Public Works -- September 23, 2011

David Barber, Director of Public Works for the City of Peoria, led OLLI on a tour of the city’s operations and maintenance facility on Dries Lane. Our visit included a look at the traffic control shop, the sign shop, and the maintenance garage, plus discussions with department managers and engineers to learn more about the city’s snow plan and capital projects.

For more information about the City of Peoria, please visit www.ci.peoria.il.us

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peoria County Coroner's Office -- September 22, 2012

On this trip, we learned about the responsibilities of Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll, an elected official charged with investigating sudden, unusual, and traumatic deaths and assuring those bodies are examined, identified, and, if necessary, autopsied.

Our visit included the observation of a jury inquest, which is held weekly to determine the manner of some deaths occurring in Peoria County.

Historic Fulton -- September 21, 2011

Situated along the bank of the Missisippi River just north of the Quad Cities, Fulton is know for its Dutch heritage. OLLI's visit included a tour of an authentic Dutch windmill, a walk through Heritage Canyon (an 1800s working village located inside a rock quarry), a tour of the Martin House Museum, and a tour and tasting at Lavender Crest Winery.

OLLI member David Conner, a Fulton native, accompanied our group to provide insight about his hometown.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peoria Area Churches -- September 16, 2011

The third in OLLI's series of area church tours was held on September 16, and more than 30 members participated in the popular trip.

Throughout the day, we got a closer look at the beliefs, architecture, and history of First Baptist Church of Peoria, St. Thomas Catholic Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, and the Apostolic Christian Church.

Edward J. Barry Jr., Senior Architectural Manager for Farnsworth Group, Inc., accompanied the group to discuss the architectural highlights. Representatives from each church were also on hand to discuss the their congregational practices.

Thank you to OLLI member Shirley Cunningham for helping to organize the trip!

Federal Correctional Institution, Pekin -- September 15, 2011

On September 15, nearly two dozen OLLI members visited the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Pekin.

The FCI is comprised of a medium security facility housing male inmates and a minimum security satellite prison camp that houses male offenders. During our tour, Executive Assistant Marie Wynia. along with assistant wardens and other staff, guided us through the FCI and provided insight about the security, programming, and population of the prison.

For more information about the FCI, visit www.bop.gov/locations/institutions/pek/index.jsp

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Kickoff Luncheon -- September 14, 2011

More than 300 OLLI members attended the official kickoff to the Fall season on Wednesday with a luncheon at Bradley University's Michel Student Center.

Jerry Milam, a Peoria entrepreneur, musician, and photographer, shared many of his memorable stories and photographs in a presentation titled "Time Well Spent: Capturing a Lifetime in Photographs."

Fall classes take place on October 5, 12, 19, and 26 at Bradley University.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Toraason Glass -- September 8, 2011

One of OLLI’s most intriguing local favorites was back by popular demand! Nearly 20 OLLI members enjoyed an exclusive, up-close look at local artist Hiram Toraason’s 4,000-square-foot glass blowing studio and gallery.

Hiram, a graduate of Southern Illinois University who apprenticed under William and Katherine Berstein in Celo, North Carolina, demonstrated his techniques of working with 2,000-degree molten glass and created a one-of-a-kind work of art.

He also discussed his artwork at Peoria's Methodist Medical Center, which includes a wall sculpture of 240 pieces of hand-blown glass in the new $11 million Hamilton Boulevard entrance and glass flowers encased within lighted glass columns on the Methodist Foundation donor recognition wall.

For more information, please visit http://toraasonglass.com.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

G&D Integrated -- September 7, 2011

Our first learning trip of Fall 2011 was a visit to G & D Integrated, a privately owned company headquartered in Morton, Illinois.

G & D provides extensive logistics services for clients across the globe. During our tour of its North American Track Assembly facility, we found out how the company works to identify and implement supply chain solutions that streamline operations, eliminate waste, and improve productivity.

For more information about the G & D, visit www.gdtr.com

Parsons Company -- August 25, 2011

The last summer learning trip of 2011 was a tour of Parsons Company in Roanoke, Illinois.

Parsons, which specializes in metal fabrication, precision machining, welding, assembly, and painting, has been a supplier to Fortune 100 manufacturers since 1971.

In 2004, the plant was destroyed by an F4 tornado, but all 150 employees survived, as they were protected by specially designed tornado shelters. Just eight months later, the company had rebuilt and was fully operational.

Our tour highlighted the processes of the company, as well as its story of determination in recovering from the tornado’s destruction.

For more information about Parsons, please visit www.parsonscompany.com

Vicksburg: Grant Moves South, Day 1

More than three dozen OLLI members began their 9-day exploration of major battlefields of the Vicksburg Campaign and related historic sites in the South today.

The first day of the trip featured explanations of the 1861 Battle of Belmont, which was Ulysses S. Grant's first Civil War battle. And, like General Grant, the group stayed in Paducah, Kentucky for one nigiht before continuing the journey south.

Bernie Drake, OLLI member and former President of the Peoria Historical Society Board of Directors, is accompanying the group to share his expertise.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pullman / Devil in the White City -- August 18

Forty-two OLLI members spent a beautiful day in Chicago touring several historic sites in the city.

The day included a visit to the Pullman State Historic Site, where we were escorted through the surviving portions of an industrial complex developed in the 1880s by George Pullman. The tycoon, whose company built luxury railroad passenger cars, designed the country's first planned industrial community to house workers employed by his factory. Pullman believed that superior living quarters in a setting far from urban problems would attract good employees and enhance productivity.

We also discovered the mystique of the Hyde Park neighborhood, home of sites associated with the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and described in Erik Larson's bestseller The Devil in the White City.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Canoeing at Emiquon -- June 29, 2011

The rainy spring led to high water levels on the Sangamon River, so we made a last-minute change to our canoeing itinerary and headed to Emiquon Preserve in Lewistown instead!

Scott Hewitt, expert canoeist and interpreter, accompanied our group and provided a canoeing lesson followed by several hours on the water.

OLLI thanks Scott for his wonderful presentations and assistance on this trip.

Illinois Shakespeare Festival -- June 23, 2011

OLLI's summer tradition of a patio picnic and performance at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival continued with a visit to Ewing Manor to see the opening night performance of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged).

We extend a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Susan Hillabold, frequent OLLI instructor, who accompanied our group to provide further insight about the play.

Manito -- June 16, 2011

Nancy Proehl, retired member of the Continuing Education staff, was our guide as we spent the day learning about the attractions and small businesses in Manito, Illinois.

Our visit included a tour of the Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery, stops at Dianna's Chocolates, the Old Manito SChool and Jail, and Corr's Bakery. Between tours, we dined at Hawk's Grove Family Inn and enjoyed a wine lesson and tasting at Willett's Winery.

OLLI thanks Nancy Proehl for her time and effort in arranging this wonderful day of learning.

Weaver Farm -- June 21, 2011

This working farm is home to three generations of Weavers and serves as the home office of Weaver Enterprises. Our tour was the last opportunity to see the private museum collection of vintage stage coaches and carriages that date back to the 1700s.

Our host, newly elected Peoria City Councilman Chuck Weaver, provided an excellent tour of the grounds and educated us on the Weaver Polo Program.

OLLI thanks Chuck for his wonderful hospitality! For more information about Weaver Farms, please visit www.weaverangusfarm.com.

Peoria Police Department -- June 9, 2011

On this trip, we visited the Peoria Police Department and viewed holding cells, line up rooms, interview rooms, and a museum that houses equipment, photographs, and evidence collected over the last 80 years.

Our tour also included the adjacent Emergency Communications Center, where we observed and learned how the trained staff handles emergency calls for all of Peoria County law enforcement, fire, and ambulance services while providing critical information in emergency situations to both officers and citizens.

OLLI thanks Officer Doug Burgess and the Peoria Police Department for their hospitality! For more information, please visit the department's website: www.ci.peoria.il.us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

OLLI Summer Picnic -- June 8, 2011

The annual tradition of OLLI summer picnics continued as we met at Wildlife Prairie State Park on June 8 to enjoy a buffet lunch on the park's Hespell Deck.

Jeff Rosecrans, Operations Director of the park, presented an informative look at the park's past, present, and future. Staffers from the park's education department also introduced the OLLI gang to an owl and oppossum!

OLLI thanks Jeff and the crew at Wildlife Prairie State Park for an enjoyable and educational afternoon. For more information, please visit the park's website.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bocce Ball and Brewing -- June 1, 2011

Our first summer trip of 2011 was spent in St. Louis and focused on two intriguing aspects of the city: the Italian culture that is celebrated in The Hill neighborhood, and the impact that brewing has had on the area.

Our private docents, Joe and Charlie DeGregorio, met us at The Hill to guide us through the beloved Italian neighborhood. Our first stop was at Mama Toscano’s, one of the few markets in the country that makes ravioli by hand, to see the ancient and meticulous art of pasta making. We then visited a private bocce ball club for a hands-on sporting experience.

After lunch at Mama Campisi's, we experienced an Italian concert at St. Ambrose Church, enjoyed gelato from a family-owned store, then headed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for a private beer class followed by a guided tour and a stop in the hospitality room.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio -- May 26, 2011

During a walking and narrated motorcoach tour, OLLI enjoyed a day of discovery about Frank Lloyd Wright in historic Oak Park, Illinois.

On the private tour of Wright's home and studio, we saw how he used it as an architectural laboratory to test design concepts before sharing them with clients. We also took a walk along Forest Avenue to see some of the 25 Wright-designed buildings in the neighborhood, including the Hartley House and a home once occupied by Mamah Cheney, his lover and focus of the novel Loving Frank. Our day also included a private tour of the Unity Temple, where we learned even more about how Wright and his associates developed the Prairie Style of architecture.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ancient Earthworks, Day 3 -- May 21, 1011

The final day of our three-day adventure to ancient earthworks in Ohio began with a private guided tour of the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park in Chillicothe, Ohio.

The park in south-central Ohio contains remarkable groups of large geometric earthworks as well as artifacts crafted by those of the Hopewell culture. We visited two of the five noncontiguous units within the park: Seip Earthworks and Mound City Group.

Next, we toured the Ohio Historical Center, headquarters of the Ohio Historical Society and the flagship museum of the society's network of more than 50 historic sites and museums. During our visit, we explored the 15,000 square-foot exhibit gallery that chronicles Ohio history through its plants, animals, geology, geography, and climate.

Lunch was a festive affair at Schmidt's Banquet and Meeting Haus in the Historic German Village near Columbus, where we were entertained throughout our meal by a strolling accordionist.

OLLI extends its heartfelt thanks to Dr. Michael Wiant, Director of Dickson Mounds State Museum, for his amazing commentary and guidance throughout this trip.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ancient Earthworks, Day 2 -- May 20, 2011

The second day of OLLI's Ancient Earthworks learning trip began with an early morning visit to Fort Ancient State Memorial in Oregonia, Ohio. Park archeologist Jack Blosser welcomed our group and provided an in-depth look of the 9,000 square-foot museum and adjacent grounds, which feature more than 18,000 feet of earthen walls.

Next, we drove to Peebles, Ohio for a walking tour of Serpent Mound, known as the largest and finest serpent effigy in the United States. Nearly a quarter of a mile long, Serpent Mound represents an uncoiling serpent whose head is aligned to the summer solstice sunset. This public park, in operation for more than a century, also contains exhibits on the effigy and the geology of the surrounding area.

Archeologist and national park ranger Bret Ruby met our group at the day's third site, Seip Mound. Seip, the central mound in a group of geometric earthworks, is 240 feet long, 130 feet wide, and 30 feet high, and was built by the Hopewell Indians as a burial site.

Following lunch at the Chillicothe Country Club, we enjoyed a private tour of the Adena Mansion and Gardens, a 2,000 acre estate once owned by former Ohio governor and United States Senator Thomas Worthington. Our last stop of the day was a look at Story Mound, a large, rounded earthen mound located on just under an acre of ground in the heart of a residential neighborhood in Chillicothe.

Day Two ended with a delicious dinner at the Pump House Center for the Arts, catered by Old Canal Smokehouse.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ancient Earthworks, Day 1 -- May 19, 2011

Dr. Michael Wiant, Director of Dickson Mounds State Museum, is accompanying 31 members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University on a three-day trip to unique aboriginal earthworks in Ohio.

We began the trip with a visit to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. The museum, opened in 1989, has served as the primary venue for Native American art and culture in Indiana. It is also the only museum in the midwest to offer extensive collections of both Native American and American Western art.

Next, we took a tour of the Miamisburg Mound in Miamisburg, Ohio. According to the Ohio Historical Society, the Miamisburg is the largest conical burial mound in the state. Archaeological studies of the surrounding area have shown the mound to be 68 feet high, 852 feet in circumference, and containing 311,353 cubic feet of dirt.

We wrapped up the first day with dinner at The Golden Lamb, recognized as the oldest continuously operating business in Ohio. Between courses, we were treated to an enlightening presentation by the hotel/restaurant's resident historian, who shared stories about The Golden Lamb's many prominent guests (including several United States Presidents).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Historic Nauvoo -- May 12, 2011

Jim Wilhelm, host of WTVP’s “Illinois Adventure” series, accompanied OLLI on our day-long trip to Nauvoo and provided insightful commentary and anecdotes about the historical town and its founders.

Our adventure included a step-on tour by and commentary about the Reconstructed Nauvoo Temple, a visit to many of the historical sites along Main Street (including a brickyard, bakery, gunsmith shop, and post office), a blacksmith shop tour and demonstration, and a guided tour of the Joseph Smith Historic Site. We also enjoyed a wagon ride through the 1840s historic district, heard the stories of early settlers by actors dressed in period clothing, and saw the restored homes and businesses on the “Flats” as they existed over a century ago.

After lunch, we visited Baxter’s Vineyards and Winery, the oldest winery in Illinois that was featured on the Food Network’s “Alton Brown Feasting on Asphalt” series.

Sullivan's Downtown -- May 2, 2011

In early May, OLLI enjoyed a tour of a complex of downtown buildings that have been revitalized by local entrepreneur Pat Sullivan.

During this tour, we got a private, behind-the-scenes look at the Le Vieux Carre (“small quarters”) building on Water Street, a former buggy and implement warehouse built in the 1800s which was also rumored to have once housed Al Capone’s whiskey stills and gambling devices. Pat also gave us a peek at the headquarters for Water Street Solutions (the former post office), and discussed his efforts to create a new urban neighborhood in Peoria’s warehouse district, recently awarded $10 million in federal grants and renamed Rivertown.

Powerton Generating Station -- April 28 & May 11, 2011

OLLI took two separate trips this spring to the Powerton Generating Station in Pekin.

On both visits, we experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the electric generation station located southwest of Pekin. The coal-fired boilers wereshut down, so we had a rare opportunity to see inside the mechanisms that produce enough electricity to meet the needs of 1.8 million households. We also learned how the electricity generated by the station is transmitted for distribution to commercial, retail, and industrial customers.

Central Peoria Churches -- April 26, 2011

Our second foray into local churches led us to four houses of worship in the Central Peoria area.

During this trip, we got a closer look at the beliefs, architecture, and history of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Salem Lutheran Church, and Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria. Representatives from each church were in attendance to talk about the practices of each congregation, and archiects from Farnsworth Group joined the group to discuss each building's design and architecture.

OLLI thanks Father John Sardis of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church for arranging an amazing lunch for our participants.

Harrison Community Learning Center -- April 19, 2011

In our second trip to District 150 schools this season, OLLI visited the brand-new Harrison Community Learning Center.

We met with Principal Veralee Smith and toured the 109,000 square-foot facility that opened at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Like the new Glen Oak Community Learning Center, the pre-K thru sixth grade school features four “villages” of learning communities, four integrated learning areas for art, cooking, and life skills, plus a fitness room, nature exploration classroom, and walkways through a park and playground. During our visit, we also saw a sculpture in the main entrance made by two Bradley University art teachers.

For more information about the school, please visit www.psd150.org.

Daarul Uloom Islamic School -- April 15, 2011

On April 15, OLLI toured the Daarul Uloom Islamic School in Peoria. Opened in September, 2010, the school serves approximately 125 students in grades pre-K to 6 with a focus on Islamic and secular education under the banner of a full-time, fully accredited school. The school, which outgrew its former location on Mount Hawley Road, features ten classrooms and a multi-purpose facility used for sports, youth activities, and social gatherings, as well as room to grow to serve older students in the future.

Principal Mona Rustom and Board President Mohammed Salem led our tour and gave participants an overview of the school’s mission, walked us through some of the classrooms, explained the prayer services, and discussed how the Peoria area’s Muslim community is supporting the full-time and weekend instruction.

For more information about the school, please visit www.dupeoria.org.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alton Adventure

Our Alton Adventure began with a private tour of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and Museum. Next, we toured the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, the Beall Mansion, and concluded the day at the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower, where we observed the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers from the 180-foot-tall observation deck

Historic Alton

Our first stop on today's trip is a guided tour of the Jerry Costello Confluence Field Station, which serves as an international center for river studies.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 29, 2011

Distilling, Picking and the Abyss

During a daylong trip to LeClaire and Davenport, Iowa, we toured a new microdistillery, visted an antique shop featured in a popular cable television show, and experienced a film in a format that just arrived in Peoria: IMAX.

Our first stop of the day was the Mississippi River Distilling Company, the first microdistillery in the Quad Cities since Prohibition. During our private tour with the owners, we saw the entire distilling process, including cleaning, milling, and cooking of the grain, to the fermentation, blending, aging, and bottling of spirits. We learned how the company purchases fresh grain directly from farmers within 25 miles of LeClaire and ended the tour with samples of the distillery's own River Baron Bodka in the grand tasting room.

After lunch at Sneaky Pete's (where one of our participants "lost" his necktie), we headed to Antique Archeology, the home base for History Channel's "American Pickers," a show that follows three foragers who travel coast to coast in search of forgotten American treasures. While there, we learned how the owners pick through dilapidated barns and overgrown yards in search of rare finds and sensational stories.

Our last stop of the day was the Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre for a look at the Titanic exhibit and viewing of "Ghosts of the Abyss," a film that follows director James Cameron to the site of his greatest inspiration: the wreck of the Titanic.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Amazing Women

Mary Bitterman, President of The Bernard Osher Foundation; Susan Stamberg, Special Correspondent for National Public Radio; and Kali Lightfoot, Executive Director of the OLLI National Resource Center stand united in learning prior to the closing of the OLLI National Conference.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Roundtable on Social Media and Marketing

President Keithley sitting in a round table on social media and marketing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Social Networking

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Prior to our presentation on social media

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

President Keithley

We have arrived at the OLLI National Conference

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 8, 2011

O'Brien Steel -- March 31

O'Brien Steel, established in 1975, is a steel service center specializing in hot rolled carbon steel products such as plates, beams, channels, and structural tubing. The company buys in volume from the steel mills and then distributes it, usually in smaller quantities, from that inventory. O’Brien also does a large amount of processing (including laser cutting, flame cutting, and robotic plasma beveling) of the steel to customers' specifications so that they can use the parts in the manufacturing of their products. During the tour, participants met with Vice President Mike O'Brien, saw the steel inventory, watched various cutting processes, and learned more about O’Brien’s ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications.

For more information about the company, please visit www.obriensteel.com.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Peoria Charter Coach -- March 31

On this tour, we experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the company that provides transportation for OLLI’s regional trips and more than 400,000 passengers on school outings, airport transfers, sporting events, and civic events. We saw some of the 61 motor coaches that travel more than five million miles annually, viewed the staging process used to prepare the coaches for each trip, and watched as mechanics repaired and fueled the vehicles (which use approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel each week). We also visited the offices to learn more of the history of the company and see how the customer service staff handles the logistics involved with each trip.

OLLI thanks Bob Henderson for providing such a thoughtful, in-depth tour!

For more information about the company, please visit www.peoriacharter.com.

Glen Oak Community Learning Center -- March 29

OLLI had an insider’s look at the new Glen Oak Community Learning Center when we toured the 126,000 square-foot facility in the heart of Peoria’s East Bluff. During our visit, we learned how the school has developed from a one-room frame house in 1898 to a state-of-the-art learning facility that encompasses the block of Wisconsin, Republic, Maryland, and Kansas avenues. The school educates approximately 850 students, grades pre-K to 6, and features four “villages” of learning communities, four integrated learning areas for art, cooking, and life skills, plus a fitness room, nature exploration classroom, and walkways through a park and playground.

For more information about the school, please visit www.psd150.org.

A Day in Delavan -- March 23, 2011

OLLI spent a beautiful day touring this historic town in southern Illinois with Mayor Liz Kinner and Glenn Holmes, past president of the Delavan Historical Society. Our day included visits to an original Colony House (one of seven homes built in 1837 to house colonists until their permanent homes could be constructed) and the Ayer Public Library, a Carnegie Foundation library built in 1907. In addition, we toured the Hoeft private residence in one of the city's quaint neighborhoods and explored the 19th century storefronts in the business district.

In between tours, we dined at The Harvest Cafe, a farm-to-table restaurant that services locally grown products. We also learned more about the renovated 1890s iron-front building that houses the cafe and traced its history from the 1888 headquarters of the Delavan telephone exchange to its current incarnation as a restaurant. In addition, we viewed the Third Street Bridge, the oldest metal truss bridge in Illinois, visited the Delavan Historical Society Museum, and learned how the city's Illinois Army National Guard armory has played a vital part in community events.

Toraason Glassworks -- March 10, 2011

Hiram Toraason, owner of Toraason Glassworks, 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, he led our group to Methodist Medical Center, where he discussed his wall sculpture of 240 pieces of hand-blown glass in the new Hamilton Boulevard entrance.

For more information about Toraason Glass, visit http://toraasonglass.com

George O. Pasquel Co. -- March 9, 2011

Owner Pete Pasquel was our guide as we took a private tour of the restaurant equipment and wholesale food distributor in downtown Peoria. Opened in 1946, the company sells more than 10,000 different types of restaurant equipment, such as china, crystal, glassware, silverware, paper goods, grills, coolers, and more. Our visit included a tour of the 3,000 square-foot retail showroom, product warehouse, and used inventory and equipment building. In addition, Pete shared his personal memories of his six decades with the business, and showed some of the hundreds of mementos he has collected from some of Peoria’s most famous restaurants.

For more information about the company, please visit www.pasquel.com

The OLLI Study Group Committee

Using our brains:

Planning our summer Study Groups.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Myths of Ulysses S. Grant

Bernie Drake debunks the myths surrounding Ulysses S. Grant, famous resident of Galena, General-in-Chief, and United States President.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 1, 2011

Quincy: Villa Kathrine Castle

After touring the Golden Windmill, OLLI visited the Villa Kathrine Castle, a unique example of Mediterranean architecture that sits on the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

For more information about our Quincy sites, please visit the Quincy CVB website.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Historic Quincy -- April 1, 2011

Our day in Quincy included visits to several historic sites. Our first stop on the daylong trip was a tour of the Golden Windmill, which still operates with its original millstones and woodgear mechanism. Next, we toured the Villa Kathrine Castle, a Mediterranean-style villa on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. After lunch, we took private tours of two homes in the city's historic East District.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Carmen" at The Chicago Lyric Opera

OLLI and the Opera Illinois League joined forces for a day and had an amazing day enjoying a matinee performance of “Carmen” at the Chicago Lyric Opera.

"Carmen," the most famous of Georges Bizet's operas, is set in Seville around the year 1830 and deals with the love and jealousy of Don José, who is lured away from his duty as a soldier and his beloved Micaëla by the gypsy factory-girl Carmen. Stan Ransom, frequent OLLI instructor, accompanied the group to enrich our understanding of the opera’s subtleties.

After the performance, participants enjoyed dinner at Pegasus, one of the top-rated restaurants in Greektown.

OLLI thanks the Illinois Opera League for this first-time (and successful) joint trip.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

OLLI Staff Hearts their Grand Marshall Kenny Carrigan

Hooray for Kenny!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jon and a Leprechaun


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Beautiful Flowers

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Before the luncheon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Before the Luncheon

Happy Smiles

Monday, March 7, 2011

Goodwill Industries -- March 3, 2011

On this trip, we visited the Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois warehouse in East Peoria, where we learned all about the donation and distribution process that serves 21 counties throughout central Illinois.

Local Goodwill staff discussed the organization’s nine area retail stores, three donation centers, and the General Wayne A. Downing Home for Veterans, which provides a safe haven for homeless veterans in the community. In addition, we found out more about Goodwill’s youth mentoring program and classroom and online training courses.

For more information about Goodwill, please visit its website.

NCAUR (Ag Lab) -- March 2, 2011

In what has become one of OLLI's most popular learning trip offerings, we spent another fascinating afternoon touring the National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research (NCAUR).

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. Our tour included a chance to see the science at work and speak with several professionals who conduct the groundbreaking research.

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

Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences -- February 24, 2011

The Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences features exhibition galleries, a planetarium, the Illinois Folk Art Gallery, a Discovery Center, and educational programming for all ages.

The heart of the museum is its permanent collection, and its legacy is how that collection inspires visitors. In this private tour with Kristan H. McKinsey, VP of Collections and Exhibitions, we found out what goes into building a museum collection and specifically what comprises the Lakeview Museum art and science collections. Kristan discussed how the Museum purchases art and explained how the Museum cares for and uses its collections. Participants also had an opportunity to see renderings of the new Peoria Riverfront Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2012.

For more information about Lakeview, please visit its website.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Conversational Spanish Lunch -- February 17, 2011

In Spain, dinner is usually served between 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. (and sometimes as late as midnight), leaving significant time between work and dinner. As such, Spaniards often eat tapas – or appetizers – in the hours between finishing work and having dinner. We experienced this Spanish dining tradition when we met at Noir Tapas in Peoria Heights for OLLI’s first-ever conversational lunch, which also served as a preview for Dottie Strickler’s Study Group Journey in Spanish: Conversational Spanish and Travel.

For more information about Noir Tapas, please visit the restaurant's website.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Energy Knowledge Cafe -- February 16, 2011

Dr. Bob Podlasek and OLLI Past President Kenny Carrigan coordinated and organized an informative and engaging Energy Knowledge Cafe on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

Dr. John Engdahl, Bradley University Fites Chair of Engineering and Technology, presented a program titled "The Future of Nuclear Power." Twenty OLLI members, 65 Bradley University undergraduate students, and several faculty members attended the presentation.

The Energy Knowledge Cafe meets monthly to discuss emerging issues related to energy use, production, and conservation.

The next intergenerational gathering of the Energy Knowledge Cafe will be on May 18 and feature Dr. David Zietlow, who will lead a discussion on the comparison of high-hybrid and electric vehicles.

For additional information about the Energy Knowledge Cafe, please contact Suzy Thompson of the Bradley University College of Engineering and Technology at 309-677-3541.

To read more about this presentation, please read Lydia's Blog.

Peoria Public Library -- February 16, 2011

The Peoria Public Library is in the midst of a $28 million construction overhaul with renovations at the Main Library, an addition to the Lincoln Branch, and the development of a new North Branch near Allen Road.

On this trip, we visited the construction site at the Main Library, located in downtown Peoria at the corner of Main and Monroe streets, and saw how the library is operating at a limited capacity while a new elevator tower is built and four of the five floors are renovated.

We saw the beginnings of a new lounge area, created from the old entrance area, where patrons can relax with a drink or snack, as well as new gallery space for exhibits and a local history and genealogy room. We also learned how the auditorium is being refurbished to offer the large space so many Peorians depend on for meetings and programs.

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

ICC Culinary Arts Institute -- February 15, 2011

One year after a total renovation of the kitchen at Illinois Central College North, the school’s Culinary Arts Institute is back open for business – in fact, enrollment in the program has tripled since 2009.

During our tour, we met with Chef Charles Robertson and learned how the former kitchen and cafeteria of Zeller Mental Health Center, circa 1949, has been transformed into two industrial-sized kitchens and a bake shoppe that daily serves 150 students in three classes.

We also toured classrooms, saw equipment, and talked with instructors about how the school’s culinary arts certificate is preparing students for careers in the foodservice industry by providing the skills necessary for entry-level positions.

For more information about the ICC Culinary Arts Institute, please visit the school's website.

Quest Charter Academy -- February 10, 2011

The seeds of Peoria’s first charter school were planted in 2006 by research conducted by members of Bradley’s Institute for Learning in Retirement (OLLI’s original name).

During this tour, we found out how that research, which included exploration of best practices, evaluation of models, and development of a set of recommendations, evolved into the Quest Charter Academy. We toured the building, visited classrooms (all of which are named after universities in order to promote the goal of college graduation), and talked with Engin Blackstone, principal, about how the school’s math, science, and technology-based curriculum is providing new educational opportunities for Peoria’s fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students.

For more information about Quest, please visit the school's website.

Peoria City Hall -- February 4, 2011

Peoria City Hall, constructed 112 years ago on the site of an outdoor produce market at the corner of Madison and Fulton, has been celebrated recently with a 52-page booklet about its priceless art and architecture.

The author of that booklet, local historian Dr. Peter J. Couri, was our guide as we took a private tour and learned about all the planning, politics, and Peorians involved in constructing the Flemish Renaissance-style building.

During our visit, we saw the Italian marble wainscoting, copper cupola bell tower, ornamented stepped gables, and the open atrium rotunda with a stained glass skylight, as well as the historic murals, lithographs, ironwork, sculptures, and paintings by renowned artists Triebel, Peaco, and Roberts.

For more information about Peoria City Hall, please visit the city's website.

Toraason Glass -- January 20, 2011

A learning trip to Toraason Glass is always in demand. During this visit, 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 led our group to Methodist Medical Center, where he spoke about his wall sculpture of 240 pieces of hand-blown glass in the new Hamilton Boulevard entrance.

For more information about Toraason Glass, visit the studio's website.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Classes Gathering -- January 11 - 14, 2011

It was our largest Winter ever -- 186 members gathered for classes on the campus at Bradley University from January 11 through 14.

Our classes are gatherings of OLLI members who enjoy learning with peers and who prefer a non-credit, no-stress, no-test environment. This season's topics varied across a broad range including the practical and the theoretical as well as the playful and the serious. Each of the four consecutive days began at 8:30 a.m. and concluded at 3:30 p.m. with classes changing every hour. Between classes, participants enjoyed camaraderie and conversation in the Michel Student Center atrium.

For more information about OLLI, please visit our website or call 309.677.2523.

Ice Age Hike -- January 10, 2011

Nearly 20,000 years ago, the landscape of Central Illinois was under sheets of ice. Large lakes were being formed where moraines dammed the water from melting glaciers, and storms were depositing thick layers of dust over the area.

During a two-hour private hike at Forest Park Nature Center with Ed Stermer, geology expert and earth science instructor at Illinois Central College, OLLI members learned how Central Illinois was sculpted by these Ice Age glaciers. Stermer, who has led two previous OLLI geology hikes in the warmer months, guided our group through the geologic evidence of the glaciers (including changes in rocks and fauna), explained how plate tectonics and changes in the earth’s orbit affected the glaciations of the Peoria area, and discussed the reasons for past and possible future ice ages.

OLLI thanks Ed for providing yet another fascinating adventure for our group.

For more information about Forest Park Nature Center, please visit www.peoriaparks.com

Renaissance Coliseum -- January 6, 2011

Our first learning trip of 2011 was a private tour of the new Renaissance Coliseum at Bradley University.

Dr. Michael Cross, BU Athletic Director, and student-athletes from the BU women's basketball team personally guided us through the $50 million, 165,000 square-foot facility. Highlights of our visit included the Burkland Family Heritage Hall (home to the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame), athletic training rooms, player suites and coaches offices, practice court balcony, Braves Club Room, conference and hospitality rooms, and administrative offices for the Athletics Department.

OLLI thanks Dr. Cross and the women's basketball team for providing such an informative tour of the new facility.

For more information about the Renaissance Coliseum, please visit www.bradleybraves.com.

Blog Archive