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OLLI: Celebrating 25 years of facilitating lifelong education

This year’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) open house is going all out for its 25th anniversary. From 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, in the Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University, 1118 Siskiyou Blvd., community members can browse through more than four dozen exhibits presented to highlight the many educational and cultural opportunities in the Rogue Valley, preview the 139 courses offered this academic year and meet instructors and OLLI partners.

There will also be refreshments and door prizes, including tickets to the Britt Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, wine tasting and restaurant certificates, an iPad, and more, according to volunteer Anne Bellegia.

“This is an opportunity for people to come mingle,” Bellegia said. The public is welcome and admission is free, but registration is required prior to the event by going to tinyurl.com/y9rhfrf5 or by calling 541-552-6048. Registration is requested by Monday. There’s more information on the event at inside.sou.edu/olli.

Exhibitors such as Ashland New Plays Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, the American Association of University Women of Ashland and Medford (AAUW), Jackson County Library Services, League of Women Voters, Rogue Valley Symphony, ScienceWorks, SOU affiliates and a dozen others will table again at the event. This year they’ll be joined by local K-12 school districts, Rogue Community College, Rogue Valley Genealogy Society, SMART Reading, SOU Youth Programs and other organizations serving those at the younger end of the learning continuum.

“Consistent with our theme, which is learning for life ... we have exhibits which showcase the ways to share our mission — mental stimulation and social connections for older adults,” Bellegia said. “We’re not in competition with organizations that share our mission. We share the ability to get people to a place that might do them some good.”

Bellegia said that, in addition to the traditionally showcased organizations, this year's inclusion of organizations focused around the younger population helps emphasize the notion that learning is something that happens throughout life.

“Our society is better with educated citizens, so we want age 50-plus citizens to pay attention to what’s going on in K-12 and the universities,” Bellegia said. “Because it really makes the quality of life in our community better.”

Courses offered in the fall term include a variety of categories from art to movement, with titles like “Climate Pollution in the Rogue Valley,” “Physics for Nonphysicists: Elementary Particle Zoo” and “Beginning Pickleball.”

Bellegia said they’re expecting between 700 to 900 attendees at the open house based off last year’s turnout. There are currently approximately 2,000 OLLI members.

The cost for the academic year is $125, which covers as many courses as the student wants to take. Members can make unlimited course selections (space permitting), from more than 300 courses each year for a single annual fee of $125 and no per-course tuition and attend classes on either or both of OLLI’s Ashland and Medford campuses. Scholarships are available upon request.

Free parking on the day of the open house event at SOU is in lot 36 off South Mountain Avenue.

“Learning is something we as a species thrive on,” Bellegia said.

Contact Daily Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Courtesy photoVisitors to the 2017 OLLI Open House browse the displays.
Courtesy photoVisitors to the 2017 OLLI Open House browse the displays.