Look for “Industrial Hemp in West Virginia,” with instructor J. Morgan Leach, who works with the West Virginia Hemp Farmers Cooperative as WVU kicks off lecture series in capital city

WVU kicks off lecture series in capital city


By Marta Tankersley Hays – Staff writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Ever searching to learn and grow, about 75 men and women — all 50 years of age and over — filled the auditorium Tuesday at the West Virginia University building on the campus of CAMC Memorial Hospital in Kanawha City for three mini lectures, kicking off a new educational program in the capital city.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WVU is expanding to Charleston and the free event was designed to pique interest and add members to the rolls.

“I want to keep my mind active,” Barbara Hutchison-Smith said. “Being a retired teacher, learning has always been in the forefront for me.”

OLLI at WVU is a membership organization that promotes the joy of learning by providing a wide variety of educational lectures, events, workshops and social activities — designed specifically for seniors — throughout the year.

“This is an exciting time for OLLI at WVU,” executive program director Angela Faulkner-Van Deysen said.

“We know there is a lot of interest in the program in the Charleston area, and expansion here is good for the community.”

Topics for the evening included medication safety, presented by Dr. David P. Elliott, associate chairman of clinical pharmacy at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center; tips for buying a used car, presented by Richard “Dick” Daugherty, owner of West Virginia Auto Sales and West Virginia Powersports in Cross Lanes; and information on legal documents everyone needs, presented by attorney Brent Van Deysen, who specializes in senior citizen and elder law issues.

John and Hazel Palmer came to see what OLLI is all about.

“We came here to explore the details of membership, but haven’t made a decision yet,” John said. “The subject matter tonight was good, but most of the information I already have knowledge of. Sometimes, though, you know something but it’s not in the front of your brain and we need to be reminded. You never know when you’ll use it.”

Christine Daugherty, who is on the board of directors for Kanawha Valley Village People, an organization that serves seniors by helping them “age in place,” attended the kickoff both as an interested student and as a potential instructor, she said.

“I am personally interested in enrolling, but I’d also like to teach about Charleston’s sister city, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, where I worked in rural development for three years in the late 1990s,” Daugherty said. “I’d like to introduce people to what is going on there. For instance, last year during FestivALL, dancers came from Slovakia to perform.”

Six single-session classes will be held during Charleston’s pilot spring term, which runs from April 29 through May 22. A special trial membership is available for a fee of $25. An annual membership — which includes unlimited access to all classes and activities unless otherwise specified — runs $100. Other options are also available.

One of the classes on the spring schedule, “Behind the Scenes with Maestro Grant Cooper and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra,” gives students exclusive access to Cooper and a private rehearsal of the WVSO, on April 30.

Other courses offered during the spring term in Charleston include “Savvy Social Security Planning,” with instructor and former NBA basketball player and Charleston resident Gregory Dennis; “Spring Hike and Walk on the Sunrise Carriage Trail,” with instructor Joan Steven; “The West Virginia Legislature From the Inside,” with instructor Bob Wright, who served the Legislature as a messenger; “Introduction to Elder Lay,” with instructor and attorney Brent Van Deysen, who also spoke at the kickoff; and “Industrial Hemp in West Virginia,” with instructor J. Morgan Leach, who works with the West Virginia Hemp Farmers Cooperative.

In Morgantown, 483 nontraditional students are enrolled and taking advantage of more than 50 OLLI classes per term. Courses include single lectures and activities as well as class series that run for up to six weeks.

Organizers hope to expand in Charleston and bring more options to students here as the program matures.

For more information about learning from or sharing your knowledge with OLLI at WVU, contact Angela Van Deysen at 304-293-1793, visit http://www.olliatwvu.org or get in on the conversation on Facebook at facebook.com/olliatwvu.

Reach Marta Tankersley Hays at marta.tankersley@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1249 or follow @MartaRee on Twitter.

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