Inquiring Minds

It’s all about the brainstorming:  Eve Hoover and Terri Wallace of Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning.

It’s all about the brainstorming: Eve Hoover and Terri Wallace of Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning. Photo by Tim Robison

Think back to your favorite high-school or college class. Chances are, it wasn’t called Human Spaceflight for Geeks or Mountain Elder Wisdom. You probably didn’t visit the county jail or tour the inner workings of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, either.

Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning, based at Blue Ridge Community College, gives the 50-plus crowd and their younger counterparts a chance to learn about fascinating topics from experts who have lived it all.

Bold Life spoke with three of BRCLL’s key players — program coordinator Terri Wallace, treasurer Toby Linder, and board president Eve Hoover — about some of the program’s most surprising learning opportunities.

Bold Life: What are some of the classes that get students fired up and really excited about learning?
Toby Linder: We’ve had classes on pirates, lighthouses, and stars. We just had a wonderful trip to the Duke Lemur Center. The group that went on that trip are true animal lovers.
Terri Wallace: We go up to Cataloochee to see the elk. It’s this narrow, winding road that scares the bejeebers out of you to get there, but once you get there you just sit and the elk come out.

Your classes run the gamut from classes on human spaceflight to a visit to the county jail. How do you come up these ideas?
Eve Hoover: We lay awake at night!
Toby Linder: We also have a wonderful programming committee. They only meet once a month, but I firmly believe that they’re working every day. They just get together and boy, they brainstorm.

How do you find instructors for these classes? Do you just happen to know former FBI agents or Fisher-Price toy designers?
Terri Wallace: I’m amazed at the people the volunteers come up with. If somebody knows a name or a topic comes up, they just dig into it and find somebody. There’s so much energy in the program committee, you’d think we were a bunch of pre-teens.

Do you ever hear about people who are inspired to take up a new hobby or pursue a new career after taking your classes?
Terri Wallace: The one thing we did that was really unique is we took a trip to the Tryon Arts Center. People tie-dyed silk scarves, and many had never done that before. I know one person who has gone on to take other classes there, and that could lead to more things.

If you could design a class about anything at all, what would it be?
Eve Hoover: Have we ever had a class on Hinduism?
Terri Wallace: Not yet! Our religion classes are always well attended. I just look for things that are unique and unusual.

Learn more about the programs offered by Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning, visit 828-694-1740

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