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!

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Jump Trading Simulation Center - Thursday, February 26

OLLI members participated in a learning trip this week to Jump Trading Simulation Center. The trip lasted 5 hours in total, but the tour was so insightful and educational, it left OLLI members wanting to learn more.

The facility allows many different providers to practice hands on training for many different scenarios. These simulations help the medical professionals to apply their knowledge prior to completing the application in real life. The facility has a few types of skills labs that put the core competencies to work for all medical personal.

As part of the tour, OLLI members engaged in hands-on training in suturing, and interactive paramedic training techniques. In addition, Heather King, Anatomical Coordinator, discussed how surgeons can prepare for surgery through a lab at the facility. We also witnessed heather work with pig and human cadavers as she discussed how this technique assist the surgeons in preparation. They also included a tour of the entire Jump Trading facility. Members were able to see how Jump is utilizing 3D printing for medical simulation purposes.

OLLI would like to thank Sarah Johnson at the Jump Trading and Simulation Center for an amazing tour! To learn more about Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center click here.

USDA NCAUR- Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Many of our OLLI members have mentioned that they regularly pass Peoria's National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research Center (NCAUR) on University Street, but have always wondered what exactly happens in that building on daily basis. Today, OLLI participants had the opportunity to get their questions answered.

OLLI had the unique chance for a behind-the-scenes tour of the NCAUR which focuses on bio-energy, new uses for renewable resources, and safe, healthy foods. We were able to meet with various scientist who were working on a number of projects for the agricultural lab site. We took 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. It was quickly evident that the scientists were passionate about their work and research.

It is truly fascinating what the NCAUR has accomplished over the years. In 1990, the Peoria lab’s official name was changed to the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), reflecting a successful research history generating far more than regional impact and the direction of research yet to be done.

Thank you to Clete Kurtzman for coordinating our tour, and to the staff at NCAUR who gave their time and energy for this OLLI trip.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ivex Paper- Tuesday, February 24

IVEX Specialty Paper recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and OLLI members visited the facility to learn about the history and future of the Peoria Papermill.

The tour was introduced with a background on the history of the company. The mill was originally the Illinois Paper Company, built in 1912 by Judson M. Bemis, an Illinois farmer. Manufacturing began in 1913. The plant was built with a paper mill and a small bag factory to produce white coated flour sack paper and consumer size flour bags. In the 1920’s the name of the plant was changed to the Bemis Bro. Bag Co. and in 1985 the mill was sold to a group of investors who changed the name to Petratex Paper Co. In 1987 Petratex filed for bankruptcy and the mill closed. IVEX Corporation reopened the mill in 1988 and successfully ran the mill until 2005 when the mill was acquired by Forest Resources LLC Mill Divis.

We were also given a guided tour of the facility to learn how IVEX uses both recycled and virgin fibers to produce natural and colored krafts. It was fascinating to see show much work was being accomplished at the plant even though there were more OLLI members on site than employees. The staff is fairly small in number, but many of IVEX employees have worked for the company for a number of years. One former employee, Ed Ward participated in the tour as an OLLI member. Ed seemed to be very nostalgic as he talked about his years with the company and reminisced with former colleagues on site.

The Learning Trip to IVEX Paper was a first-time tour for OLLI. We would like to thank Mark Reardon, General Manager, and his entire staff for opening their doors for an insightful OLLI tour.

Lucas & Sons Steel- Friday, February 20, 2015

Margaret Hanley and her staff welcomed OLLI to A. Lucas & Sons, the oldest manufacturing business in Peoria and the oldest steel fabricator in the country. Margaret is a three time graduate of Bradley University and President of A. Lucas & Sons. OLLI was grateful to spend a day with a Bradley Alum who continues to make Peoria proud.

Our tour began with an overview of A. Lucas and Sons Steel’s long history, especially noting the strong employee relationships, which have helped the company withstand economic downturns. Hanley also discussed what the future holds for the small family-owned company.

As part of the tour, OLLI members split into small groups and spoke with employees working within the various stages of production. Some OLLI members even had a chance get hands-on experience at welding a steel beam. The staff at A Lucas & Sons not only spoke about the steel fabrication process, but they displayed their skills as they worked on various projects.

OLLI would like to thank Margaret and everyone at A. Lucas for welcoming us and giving us insight to the fabrication process. We look forward to our next visit. ud.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Embassy Suites- Wednesday, February 18

OLLI members headed across the river today to visit the Embassy Suites East Peoria Hotel and Riverfront Conference Center. The hotel and convention center was built in 2008, but the Hilton brand has a rich history of bringing hospitality service to guests from all over the world.

Located on the Illinois riverfront, Embassy Suites East Peoria - Hotel & Riverfront Conference Center is within easy reach of the Caterpillar World Headquarters, Bradley University, Par-A-Dice Casino, Eastside Centre, Peoria Civic Center, and within walking distance of many restaurants and shopping venues. This Peoria, Illinois riverfront hotel is the "ideal option for East Peoria meetings and events, and boasts a 24-hour Embassy Business Center and a 35,000 sq. ft. conference center."

OLLI members were able to meet a number of staff members to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the hospitality industry and work. As part of the tour, Amy Carlson, Executive Meeting Manager, led OLLI members on a tour that included a stop in the laundry service area. It is truly fascinating to witness first-hand, the process of laundering mass loads of sheets, towels, table cloths, etc. for the hospitality industry.

The Embassy Suites hotel in Peoria, Illinois features 226 two-room suites, which OLLI members were able to tour one of the suites during the visit. Finally, the day concluded with lunch at the Riverside Café’. The café is known for its outdoor riverfront patio, but on a cold day like today, OLLI members ate in the private dining area designated for intimate gatherings.

OLLI would like to thank the entire Embassy Suites East Peoria staff for opening their doors to us on one of the coldest days of the year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Homeway Homes- Tuesday, February 17

There is often a misconception that Modular Homes can not be custom in design, but today OLLI members learned how more than 3,000 custom built homes have been designed and constructed by Homeway Homes in the Peoria area.

Brian Schieler, Homeway Homes President, graciously welcomed OLLI for a tour of his facility and answered numerous questions about the building process. Homeway Homes has constructed modular homes for over 10 years, and contrary to popular opinion, Schieler said customers can have a custom home designed and built at their facility. OLLI members also learned about the innovative techniques his staff uses to maximize efficiency without minimizing quality. For example, all walls and ceilings are insulated with Energy Strength spray-foam, and Homeway Homes homeowners find an energy savings of 40% with improved air quality and comfort.

As the day concluded, OLLI members turned in their yellow hard hats and headed to the sales department where they were able to tour two fully furnished model homes. Touring them model homes truly put into perspective how modular homes can be custom built and designed. OLLI would like to thank Brian and the entire staff at Homeway Homes for welcoming us for another tour this winter. We look forward to our next Learning Trip to Homeway Homes.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pat Sullivan's Le Vieux Carre- Wednesday, February 11, 2014

As Peoria approached the new millennium, very little development and activity existed on the Riverfront. Over a decade later entrepreneur's such as Pat Sullivan have worked tirelessly to bring business, residential space, and activity to the Peoria Warehouse District. Pat's Warehouse District mission is an effort to make Peoria a more attractive, safe, and happening place to live in and to visit. For our most recent Learning Trip, OLLI had the opportunity to tour the Warehouse District with Pat Sullivan himself to see how the downtown space is being utilized, and to discuss future construction and development plans.

OLLI members started out the afternoon with lunch at Kellehers. At the conclusion of the meal, Pat joined the OLLI group to give a history on how the Warehouse District came to fruition. Pat also provided a history of the building in which Kellehers sits in today. It is rumored that Water Street once housed Al Capone's whiskey and gambling devices.

Towards the end of the tour, OLLI members were even welcomed into Pat's gorgeous and spacious apartment. It was evident as soon as we walked into Pat's apartment that Pat truly values his family. Pictures of his children and grandchildren lined the hallway as you entered his living portion of the building. Pat is also a collector of antiques which seemed to be the centerpiece of decoration for each room. In 2000, Pat and his wife were one of the few Peoria residents that lived downtown and they still happily live in this space.

The Warehouse District on the riverfront is now home to number of businesses, restaurants, apartments, and condos. The arts scene is even beginning to flourish downtown with the emergence of the Contemporary Arts Center and Prairie Center for the Arts, and after our most recent Learning Trip with Pat Sullivan, development downtown is only getting started. A new brewery is being developed next to Kellehers, and Pat predicts that hundreds of new residents will call downtown Peoria home in the next few years. In addition, the owners of Salt, Cracked Pepper, and Sugar will be opening up a new restaurant in the Warehouse district called Thyme.

OLLI would like to thank Pat for welcoming us into your home. We look forward to our next visit.

Renaissance Coliseum- Monday, February 9, 2015

Members of the community are starting to get used to seeing the “OLLI at Bradley University” shuttle around Peoria during our various local Learning Trips. However, for today’s Learning Trip, the shuttle didn’t have to travel far as we toured the Bradley Renaissance Coliseum.

Dave Snell, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications, Led the tour. OLLI members truly enjoyed hearing all of Dave’s stories detailing the history of Bradley athletics throughout the years. The BU Athletic program has evolved over the years, and we can’t think of a better person to walk us through this tour and discuss the history than Dave Snell, “Voice of the Braves” for over 35 years.

Highlights of our visit included the Burkland Family Heritage Hall (home to the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame), and coaches offices, practice court balcony, Braves Club Room, conference and hospitality rooms, and administrative offices for the Athletics Department, and the athletic training rooms.

Cory Robertson, Assistant AD for Sports Performance, spoke with us regarding the strength and conditioning regiment that Bradley athletes undergo each season. The Renaissance Coliseum is a $50 million, 165,000 square-foot facility that strives to “Provide every student-athlete the opportunity for both a distinctive education and a championship experience.” We would like to thank Dave Snell and the entire staff in the Bradley Athletics Department for giving us a warm welcome today on campus.

Peoria Marriott- Pere Marquette and Courtyard by Marriott- Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Since 1926 the Pere Marquette has been one Peoria's most beloved hotels. Over the years notable guests such as: John. F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King Jr. have been known to stay at the Pere Marquette. Today, the guest of honor was OLLI. For our most recent learning trip, we learned about the history of the Pere Marquette and were taken on a tour to see first hand all of the renovation and expansion projects that started to take place back in 2011.

Our afternoon started with the Farm Table buffet lunch at Table 19. The Farm Table Buffet recently won the Diner's Choice award, and has become an extremely popular option for those in the downtown area during lunch. Many OLLI members were curious where the Table 19 restaurant got its name. We learned that in the original bar/restaurant area of the Pere Marquette, table 19 was the most popular table to dine at and was the area where many birthdays, anniversaries and proposals took place.

Immediately following lunch, Stephany Melcher, Sales Manager, led a tour of both the Marriott Pere Marquette and The Marriott Courtyard. OLLI members were able to see the various reception and meeting space options that both hotels have to offer. One of the most impressive spaces was the coveted Cotillion Ballroom. The newly renovated ballroom space had a fresh, elegant feel to it, but many of the old qualities were maintained and restored including the art work.

OLLI members also toured a variety of suites throughout both hotels, including the Bridal and Presidential suites. The Presidential Suite seemed to be a favorite among OLLI members and everyone enjoyed the view of Peoria from 12 stories high. We also viewed the pool and workout area and toured rooms at Courtyard by Marriott. Both hotels are wonderfully accommodating for their guests because costumer service is always a priority with Marriott.

OLLI would like to thank Stephany for leading a wonderful tour of this historic gem.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hindu Temple- Friday, February 6, 2015

The Central, IL Hindu Temple is a breathtaking space that welcomes a number of Hindu denominations to worship under one roof.

OLLI members learned on today's Learning Trip that The Mission of the Temple is to preserve and promote the Hindu Religion, Culture and Philosophy. The activities of the Temple are open to everyone and all activities shall observe dignity and respect for the sanctity of the holy place consistent with Hindu philosophy and way of life. In 2000, Peoria was home to the only Hindu Temple from St. Louis to Chicago. In recent years, additional Hindu Temples have developed in Illinois, but Peoria is still a place of worship for practicing Hindus throughout Central Illinois.

As we entered the temple, many OLLI members noticed that many of the structural elements, materials used, and decor throughout the temple was not of Indian influence. It was explained that the materials used and the design of the temple itself is often intended for aesthetic purposes. The Hindu Temple strives to achieve a welcoming space that will allow members to worship. This achievement in aesthetic pleasure can be seen in the display of the deities. The Deities are present as manifestations of one god and become the focus for worship for the various denominations.

OLLI members were also very interested in learning how politics come into play with the Hindu religion, and many were surprised to learn that the priests do not perform sermons. Prakash Babu, a founding member of the temple expressed, "there is no place for politics in the Central, Illinois Hindu Temple, it is truly a place to worship." OLLI would like thank everyone at the Central Illinois Hindu Temple for giving us a warm welcome and an extremely informative tour.


Spotted Cow- Monday, February 2

OLLI members were "spotted" enjoying ice cream on a cold winter day.

The Spotted Cow has become a favorite locally owned restaurant and ice cream shop in Peoria. Today OLLI members not only enjoyed lunch and ice cream at the Spotted cow, but we learned the inspiring story of how Frank Abdnour built a small business on the foundation of core family values.

It is hard to believe that in the 80's Frank Abdnour, owner of Spotted Cow, was selling ice cream cones from a food cart on Bradley Universities campus. However, with determination and creativity, Frank grew his business into a restaurant on Prospect Road in Peoria Heights that pleased customers for 19 years. Then in 2006, Frank opened the Spotted Cow restaurant as we know it today.

Located on the corner of Glen street and Sheridan Road in Peoria, Frank opened his doors for a private tour of his restaurant and spoke candidly about the difficulties of running a small business in today's economy. However, despite the various obstacles Frank has had to face, he maintains to be fully staffed and the quality of food and service has not been compromised. It is evident that Frank takes pride in his employees and the overall customer service of the business.

If you have been to Spotted Cow, you probably have seen Frank working behind the counter. You may have even seen one of his children helping Dad and his staff bring food to customers. Frank's wife is also involved with the business on the financial side. Family values mean a lot to Frank, and it is typical to see many families and community members dining with pride at the Spotted Cow. Community pride of The Spotted Cow will be taken to a new level, as the store will be featured in an upcoming Independent film. Frank seems thrilled to know that his business that started as a food cart, will now hit the big screen.

Thank you Frank for welcoming us to the Spotted Cow. The food was delicious!

Kress Corporation- Thursday, Febrary 5, 2015

Tucked away in the small town of Brimfield, IL, Cress Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer of specialty transport carriers—with machines operating worldwide in the metals/ material handling industry. Each Kress carrier offers exceptional maneuverability, heavy-duty construction, and high load capacity—providing customers with a durable, cost-efficient machine solution that is built to meet application requirements. Kress’ long tradition of excellence continues with the specialty transport carrier product line that has been engineered and constructed to deliver superior performance, outstanding reliability and enhanced lifecycle value.

This was a first time visit for OLLI at Kress Corporation. On Our tour, were able to see how the coal haulers and various carriers are manufactured. We were also fortunate enough to talk with two engineers who explained how they design and build machines to meet the customer requirements. Working right at their desks, the engineers showed OLLI members how they use software to draft machine plans.

At the end of the tour OLLI members were treated to doughnuts, and the day concluded with a presentation on how the coal haulers and various carriers are supported and serviced. The presentation helped put into perspective how Kress works with their costumers, and how their machines are used by select caterpillar dealers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Woodruff Career & Technical Center, Wednesday, January, 2015

Career and Technical Education was revived in 2011 in Peoria Public Schools, with most programs moving to one location, Woodruff Career and Technical Center. Housed on the basement and first floors of WCTC, the programs are open to all high school students in the District.

Students looking to gain hands-on experience, while using the academic skills obtained in their regular classes are encouraged to investigate this opportunity. Whether you are college bound or plan to enter the workforce following high school graduation, Career and Technical Education Programs will prepare you for a successful future.

Another aspect of the Woodruff Career and Technical Center is the Alternative Learning Program. This program provides smaller class sizes, different approaches to curriculum and instruction, and peer grouping. WCTC's Alternative Learning Program is open to all grades and provides a caring and supportive academic environment to every student.

The doors of Woodruff may have closed on the traditional structure of a local high school as we know it, but many wonderful educational programs and opportunities are still in existence for Peoria area students. Tom Bummer, Woodruff Career and Technical Center Principal, seems to have things moving in the right direction, and OLLI members were thrilled to see how the district is making this happen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Caterpillar Global Research and Development- Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The OLLI returns to the Caterpillar Research and Development Center for one of our Winter 2015 Learning Trips.

Caterpillar's Tech. Center was the site for the most recent Fall Learning Trip. The CAT Tech Center employs over 2,000 people, and spends $8 million per day on research and development. The tech site houses Caterpillar's testing, simulation, and validation work that ensures its equipment delivers value. OLLI members first learned about the CAT safety procedures and practices before taking a guided-tour of the facility.

OLLI members were able to see Cat employees at work, and how they help keep Caterpillar up-to-date on regulations, product certifications, and industry standards. Tour guides were on hand to provide detailed information about the research and development work that takes place at the Mossville facility. Technology has surely caused the process of testing and equipment validation to evolve over the years, but one thing that hasn't changed is Caterpillar's dedication towards making quality equipment that delivers value over its entire life cycle.

OLLI would like to thank Caterpillar for once again inviting OLLI to one of their wonderful area facilities.

Salvation Army- Friday, January 23, 2015

The Salvation Army assists more than 14.6 million people with basic social services each year, and our community is fortunate to have the divisional headquarters right here in Peoria. Today, OLLI visited The Salvation Army to learn about the services they provide for the homeless in our community and families in need.

Rich Draeger, Assistant Director of Development, gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the various facilities that are on campus at the downtown headquarters. Many OLLI members were surprised to learn about the variety of services that are available, and the magnitude of community members that utilize the services of the non-for-profit organization.

The downtown campus in Peoria features the Sylvia Fites Family Service Center, a Veterans Outreach Center, a Child Care Center, Family Shelter, and Food Warehouse. Families in need are able to utilize the Salvation Army as an effort to get back on their feet. We also learned that The Salvation Army works in conjunction with other non-for-profit organizations such as The Dream Center, to ensure those in need have an opportunity for assistance.

There are a variety of volunteer opportunities a The Salvation Army, which include: office help for the Christmas Center, assistance with the toy shop, serving of holiday meals, and basket distribution. Community volunteers and donor generosity is truly what makes The Peoria Salvation Army succeed. To volunteer or donate to the Salvation Army, click here.

Prairie Center for the Arts- Thursday, January 22, 2015

Prairie Center of the Arts proves that “Art is Alive” in Peoria.

OLLI’s visit to the Prairie Center of the Arts in downtown Peoria is excellent proof that Peoria has a rapid growing arts scene. Dawn Gettler, Program Manager and Gallery Coordinator, welcomed OLLI for a hands-on arts experience. We were able to tour the studio and see work in progress of the various studio artists.

The Prairie Center of the Arts houses artists from around the world with resources and a creative atmosphere to think and create. Michele Richey, President of the Prairie Center of the Arts has been committed to “engaging our community in artistic pursuits, while being provided opportunities for their own research and development of new works.”

OLLI members had the opportunity not only to learn about their work, but to see what it would be like to be an artist at the Prairie Center. We were able to print letters of love by using the Vandercook Letter Press. For this project, OLLI members were seen using hand-set antique metal type to make their own image for a Valentine’s Day card. We also had the opportunity to work with the local artists to make original print making designs.

We would like to thank Michele Richey, Dawn Getler and all of the volunteers for working hard to make our visit a memorable one!

WEEK/WHOI- Wednesday, January 21, 2015

OLLI Members had a chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the WEEK and WHOI production studios. Tim Campbell, Creative Services Manager, guided the tour which included a view of the editing bays, the control room, and recording studio.

Tim started the day by giving a detailed history of the WEEK/WHOI stations. He walked us through the changes that have occurred in the broadcast industry during his time with News25. Additionally, Tim discussed the evolution of technology for WEEK and WHOI, including the transition from studio camera operators to computer driven camera work.

OLLI members were the most thrilled that they were able to witness a live-recording of the morning news. During the news recording, WEEK Anchors Gina Morris and Maddie Heidenreich spoke about the routine of an anchor during a live televised recording. It was impressive how calm both anchors were in the fast-paced news recording, while being graceful in answering our questions.

Thank you to our friends at WEEK and WHOI for this wonderful opportunity!

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