Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech


Courses and Field Trips

Spring 2023 courses are both online and in-person. Five field trips are also available. You must be a currently enrolled member to register for courses.

January 6 - Mail date for summary flyer with the weekly course schedule and basic registration information. Keep this on hand so you can follow along during the Preview and circle the classes you may be interested in.

January 31, 10:00-11:30 - Preview of Spring program is on Zoom
Missed the Preview? See the webinar recording:

February 20 - Classes begin.

painting class



1. Paint Your Own Barn Quilt
TIME: Mondays, 9:00 – 10:30
FEE: $35 Materials fee: $35
DATES: 5 weeks: Mar 6, 13, 20, 27, Apr 3
LOCATION: Blacksburg Community Center, Community Room

Barn quilts, colorful designs typically painted in traditional quilt patterns and hung on the exteriors of barns, houses, and garages, are familiar sites in the New River Valley. In this course, you will learn to make your own. After a brief introduction to this homegrown art form, participants will learn the techniques necessary to design, measure, draw, and paint on an aluminum board using semi-gloss enamel paints. The class will work on a common project, the Indian Star pattern, with opportunities for individuals to select their own colors and customize the design.


  1. Discuss barn quilts and color theory. Learn to measure and plan the project. Prepare the board. Draw the design on the quilt board. Learn taping. Some will start painting.
  2. Continue taping and painting.
  3. Taping and painting.
  4. Final touches, class photo. View other quilt possibilities.

Joe Ivers completed a 33-year career in the public schools in New Jersey and Virginia. After moving to Blacksburg, he served on the MCPS school board for eight years. Joe previously taught Chinese cooking for LLI as well as the course in painting barn quilts in 2021. Dean Spader taught law, criminal justice, and ethics at the University of South Dakota for 27 years. He connected with LLI after moving to Blacksburg five years ago and has taught TED Talks and justice classes for our program.

2. Law and Order and the Criminal Justice System
TIME: Mondays, 10:30 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 20, 27, Mar 6, 20, 27, Apr 3, (skip Mar 13)
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Crescent Room, 2000 Kraft Dr, Suite 2100

In this class, the popular NBC police procedural and legal drama Law and Order will be used as a lens to examine the US criminal justice system. Six episodes of the series will be viewed in class and then analyzed. The episodes will raise questions about how well our criminal process and judicial system function and about the wisdom of decisions made by police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and juries.

The length of the class may vary from week to week, but two hours have been allotted to allow us to view a complete 45-minute episode together, take a break, and then re-convene for an open and wide-ranging discussion.

Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Radford University, Jack Call used his JD and his PhD degree in political science as the basis for teaching law-related courses at RU. He has taught numerous courses for LLI over the last several years.

3. Neurological, Psychiatric, and Neurodevelopmental Conditions: Biological Bases and Potential Therapies
TIME: Mondays, 11:00 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 5 weeks: Feb 20, 27, Mar 13, 20, 27 (skip Mar 6)
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018
Anne McNabb, Roger Avery, Richard Veilleux


February 20. Collateral Vessels: A Hidden Reserve for Restoring Blood Flow to the Brain after Stroke
Neurological recovery from stroke is often dictated by pre-existing pial collateral or “by-pass” vessels. These vessels are remnants of development that exist in the surface of our brain and can be actively recruited to return blood flow to areas that are being deprived during a stroke attack. Our overall research goal is to improve collateral vessel circulation and to understand how this influences the microenvironment in which neurons repair themselves.
Michelle Theus, Assoc Prof, Dept of Biomedical Sciences & Pathology, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech

February 27. Basis of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that disrupts a person’s ability to think, behave, and perceive the world. This lecture will describe how alterations of brain function give rise to symptoms of schizophrenia and how current treatments act to improve symptoms.
Sarah Clinton, Assoc Prof & Assoc Director, School of Neuroscience, Virginia Tech

March 13. Biological Mechanisms Contributing to Vulnerability vs Resilience to Stress and Mood Disorders
We will examine the biology that leads, in some individuals, to greater vulnerabilities to stress and the development of mood disorders. This class will take a whole-body perspective for understanding the etiology of depression, current treatments, and future directions for novel therapeutics.
Georgia Hodes, Asst Prof, School of Neuroscience, Virginia Tech

March 20. The Impacts of Prenatal Opioid Exposure
In this presentation I’ll investigate the mechanisms through which prenatal opioid exposure impacts brain and behavioral development using Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development. Using this framework, I’ll also explore potential avenues for interventions and opportunities to develop novel treatments.
Brittany Howell, Asst Prof, Dept of Human Development & Family Science, Virginia Tech

Mar 27. Autism and Neurodiversity: An Overview of Characteristics, Brain Differences, and Inclusive Support Strategies
This presentation will provide general background information about characteristics of autism, as well as a brief overview of what is known of biological differences, including the brain, in autism. This will set the stage for a more detailed discussion of challenges faced by autistic individuals, as well as strategies and services to best support them. This will include a conversation about neurodiversity, to foster accessible and inclusive services and environments for autistic individuals and their families.
Jennifer Bertollo, Doctoral Candidate & Instructor & Victoria Izaac, Doctoral Student, Dept of Psychology and VT Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research, Virginia Tech

4. Armchair Journeys
TIME: Mondays, 1:00 – 2:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 4 weeks: Feb 20, 27, Mar 6, 13
LOCATION: Zoom Webinar
COORDINATOR: Molly McClintock

Travel along (virtually) on fascinating trips across the country and around the globe. Speakers will share their adventures along with photos/videos enhancing their stories. Participants are invited to join along with questions and comments.


Feb 20. The Silk Road, with David Pearce
Travel along parts of the 2000-year-old trade routes that go from Asia to Europe through Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the Republic of Karakalpakstan. We will explore the landscape, culture, art, and people during this journey.

Feb 27. Netherlands/Belgium, with Carolyn Meier
Take a tiptoe through the tulips and visit one of the largest bulb gardens in the world. Watch flower traders bid on different flowers to go around the world—not as cut throat as the Stock exchange but smells so much better! Learn about the Low Countries and how they literally have pushed back the ocean. Finally see some of the art that the Monuments Men actually saved in World War II.

Mar 6. Africa, with Greg and Anne Campbell
Join the Campbells for their self-planned trip to beautiful South Africa. Their adventure included the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as a safari in Kruger National Park. Did they see the Big 5? Come and find out.

Mar 13. Amazon Cruise, with Victoria and Steve Cochran
The Amazon rainforest is called Mother Nature’s greatest creation. The Cochrans’ 2023 cruise explored the flora and fauna of this diverse region and is sure to include spectacular photographs.

5. The Geopolitics of Europe
TIME: Mondays, 1:00 – 2:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 20, 27, Mar 6, 13, 20, 27
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018

This course will employ a geopolitical approach to the analysis of European politics and security; that is, it will focus on the effects of human and physical geography on European power structures, conflicts, economic development, and identity. Students will acquire a basic context in classical and contemporary geopolitical theory, and they will learn to apply theoretical concepts to such phenomena as climate change and migration patterns. They will emerge from the course with a more complex understanding of Europe and its dynamic relationships with Russia, China, and the United States.


  • Geopolitical theories, great power politics, European security
  • The geopolitics of European conflict
  • The geopolitics of energy
  • The United States and Europe
  • EU, NATO and European geopolitics
  • Russia, China, and European geopolitics
Yannis A. Stivachtis is Professor of Political Science, Jean Monnet Chair, and Director of the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence in European Union, Transatlantic & Trans-European Space Studies at Virginia Tech.

6. Appreciating the Wines of France
TIME: Mondays, 3:00 – 5:00
FEE: $35
Wine fee: $125. Pay the wine fee directly to Vintage Cellar by check or credit card. Look for instructions after enrollment.
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 20, 27, Mar 6, 13, 20, 27
LOCATION: Vintage Cellar, 1338 S. Main Street, Blacksburg

We will revisit arguably the most influential wine country in the world, France. We tasted 48 different wines from France in 2019. This term, we will try 48 new wines from around the regions of France.

Randall Horst has served as wine buyer at the Vintage Cellar for more than 25 years. He has taught an LLI wine appreciation course since 2016.

7. Capturing Great Images with your Camera
TIME: Days and times vary; see CLASS SESSIONS
FEE: $35
DATES: 4 meetings: Feb 20, 23, 26, Mar 5
LOCATIONS: Christiansburg Recreation Center, Activities Room, 3 sessions
Pandapas Pond, 1 session

This hands-on course will help amateur photographers take better pictures of family, friends, and travel adventures. The course is intended for those using Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras (DSLRs), Single Lens Reflex cameras (SLRs), range cameras, or any other type of camera that is not fully automated. In the first two classes, participants will learn about lenses, camera controls and the use of tripods. The third class will be in the field; we will practice specific photographic techniques and tasks. In the final class, students will share their images with others and receive tips for improvement.


  • Monday, Feb 20, 5:00–6:30 at Christiansburg Recreation Center, Activities Room: Photographic equipment and techniques
  • Thursday, Feb 23, 5:00–6:30 at Christiansburg Recreation Center: Photographic equipment and techniques, cont.
  • Sunday, Feb 26, 9:00–1:00 at Pandapas Pond: Practice in the field
  • Sunday, Mar 5, 4:00–5:00 at Christiansburg Recreation Center: Share and critique photographs

Adi Ben-Senior, a professional photographer for over 25 years, has exhibited his work in private art galleries and museums.


8. Sampler
TIME: Tuesdays, 9:00 – 10:15
CLASS LIMIT: Unlimited enrollment
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 21, 28, Mar 7, 14, 21, 28
LOCATION: Zoom Webinar
COORDINATOR: Molly McClintock

This engaging course treats participants to a wide range of speakers and topics—something different each week. Following the Zoom presentation, the speaker will respond to questions submitted by participants in the Q&A feature of Zoom.

Feb. 21—US History in 15 Foods
From whiskey in the American Revolution to Spam in WWII, food reveals a great deal about the society in which it exists. Selecting 15 foods that represent key moments in the history of the United States, Anna Zeide will speak about her new book, US History in 15 Foods, which takes readers from before European colonization to the present, narrating major turning points along the way, with food as a guide.
Anna Zeide is Associate Professor of History and the founding director of the Food Studies Program at Virginia Tech. She has written "Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry" (2018) and co-edited "Acquired Tastes: Stories about the Origins of Modern Food" (2021).

Feb. 28—Literary Tourism: On the Trail of American Authors, At Home and Abroad
Follow in the footsteps of your favorite authors and take in the sights made famous (and infamous!) in their most well-known works. From Eudora Welty and William Faulkner's Mississippi, to the moveable feast of Ernest Hemingway's Paris, to trails blazed by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald—and everywhere in between—literary tourism offers unique insights into our favorite novels and the authors who wrote them.
Courtney Watson is an Associate Professor of English at Radford University. She is a scholar of literary travel and literary tourism.

March 7— Is it Fraud or Just Business?
It would be hard on any given day to pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and not find an article dealing with fraud, insider trading, or some other issue involving ethics. Yet despite people seeing others fired and, in some cases, jailed, fraud cases continue to arise in both the private and public sectors. This interactive session will explore a series of sensitive situations experienced by the facilitator and will allow the audience members to put themselves in the place of those responsible for identifying and investigating the cases as well as determining what actions, if any, should have been taken.
Stephen Skripak is a retired Professor of Practice in Management from VT and previously had a successful 25-year year career as a business executive. He had a role in numerous investigations, one of which led to significant jail time for the perpetrator.

March 14— Frederick Douglass: An American Icon
Shortly after his escape from slavery, Frederick Douglass connected with the abolitionist movement, becoming one of its most important leaders, writers, and orators. Until his death at age 77, this self-taught genius remained a tireless champion of human rights and of the most basic principle of our democracy—that we are all created equal and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Jane Goette had known Frederick Douglass only as a famous Black American until she found Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave on her daughter’s bookshelf. She couldn't put it down. Her talk introduces the founding father of post-slavery America.

March 21—The American Civil War From a Postal Perspective
When the southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, there was a need to continue postal service in the South. The Confederacy duplicated the governmental structure of the U.S., including a Post Office Department. But some interesting twists and innovations have fascinated philatelists (stamp collectors and postal historians) since. Stefan Jaronski will examine the expediencies that the “CSPOD” made to create a postal system despite war, as well as other fascinating aspects of this postal perspective.
Stefan Jaronski is an author, collector, and expert in authentication of Civil War era postage stamps. Stefan is an entomologist at VT.

March 28— Liberia Today: Life of a 20-year-old Woman
This presentation will look at life in the West African country of Liberia through the creation of a typical 20- year-old woman, Hawa. A day in Hawa’s life will provide an overview of typical housing, economic activities, health care, food and nutrition, conditions that affect family life and childcare, the status of women, and the status of children.
Lyn Gray, Country Director of Liberia Reads! and former director of international programs at VT, will use personal photos of the last 20 years in Liberia to tell the story.

9. Great American Sportswriting
TIME: Tuesdays, 11:00– 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 5 weeks: Feb 21, 28, Mar 7, 14, 21
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Crescent Room, 2000 Kraft Dr, Suite 2100

At its best, sports journalism can be fascinating or funny, inspiring or iconoclastic, socially relevant or proudly trivial. It gives us insight into human brilliance and human limitation, into cooperative effort at its most intense and into the trials of the most solitary individuals imaginable. After a brief introduction to the history of sports journalism, we’ll begin a highly participative study of exceptional writing by figures such as A. J. Liebling, John McPhee, and Roger Angell.


  • “There’s a person in there”—the individual behind the face mask
  • “Inside baseball”—strategy, motivation, technique, cheating, and everything else that goes into winning
  • “Who cares?”—how sports interact with, and reflect, the greater society
  • “The view from the bottom of the pile”— the athlete as reporter


New and used copies of required texts (any edition) can be ordered at reasonable prices from local bookshops or from online booksellers.

  • David Remnick, ed., The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker
  • John McPhee, Levels of the Game

Paul Metz retired from the Virginia Tech University Libraries in 2012 after a long career chiefly focused on the building of library collections.

10. Introduction to Ukulele
TIME: Tuesdays, 11:00 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 5 weeks: Feb 21, 28, Mar 7, 14, 21
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018

The ukulele, an instrument of Portuguese descent, has enjoyed waves of popularity since its introduction in the 1880s. Its diminutive size makes it portable and playable by musicians of all ages. Indeed, it is often used as an introductory instrument for children. But there’s nothing childish about the music the ukulele is capable of making; virtuosos and professional ukulele orchestras routinely leave their adult audiences calling for more. The ukulele is adaptable as well; whether you want to sing a lullaby to your grandchild, strum some Old Time or Bluegrass tunes, or reminisce with Elvis and the Beatles, UKE can do it.

Participants in this introductory class will study the basic anatomy of the ukulele and explore what this lovely little instrument can do. Along the way, they will learn tuning, strum styles, rhythm patterns, and basic chords. They will practice reading different ukulele music formats and play songs each session building on the skills they've been learning.

Participants must bring their own functional ukulele and clip-on tuner.


  • Anatomy of instrument, basic vocabulary for class, tuning, simple strum, first 4 chords
  • Strum patterns, 3 basic rhythms, 4 new chords
  • Smooth transitions between chords. 4 new chords
  • Fretboard layout, the scale, reading a melody line
  • Discuss practice strategies, share helpful websites, have a final jam session

Derry Hutt has sung or played an instrument since childhood. She played French horn for 20 years in the Blacksburg Community Bank. Derry first played ukulele for her mother’s 80th birthday party. Of the different instruments she’s played, she finds the ukulele the most versatile.

11. Maple Syrup: Producing Sweetness from Mother Nature
TIME: Tuesdays, 1:00 – 3:00
FEE: $25
DATES: 2 weeks: Mar 14, 28
Participants will return to collect sap between these two dates
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Garvin Center Conference Room,1872 Pratt Dr, Suite 1050, and adjacent wooded area

This research-based, hands-on course offers participants a unique opportunity to experience firsthand a sweet Virginia tradition—the sustainable tapping of maple trees to produce delicious, amber- colored syrup. We’ll learn the basics of maple syrup production from Tom Hammett, who is currently assisting Virginia landowners as they begin or expand tree syrup operations, increase their commercial competitiveness, or extend the range of syrups and products they bring to market. The course will incorporate a variety of learning experiences: brief lectures on the history of and equipment used in production, a field experience demonstrating tapping techniques, independent return trips to collect and store sap, and a final session devoted to making and tasting maple syrup!

Parking is available at the Garvin Center. The course involves outdoor walking in a gently sloped area. A tent will provide protection from rain should it be needed during our sap-cooking experience.


  • 1st session (Garvin Center conference room): Introductions, mini-lecture on the process of maple syrup production and on how this traditional craft is practiced on family farms and in commercial enterprises; demonstration in adjacent wooded area: how to tap a tree, how to collect and store sap.
  • (2-week interim): Participants independently return to check the buckets and store the collected sap.
  • 2rd session: Meet in Garvin Center conference room with collected sap. Walk to tented area outdoors to cook and sample maple syrup.

Tom Hammett is a professor in the Sustainable Biomaterials department at Virginia Tech. He teaches and conducts outreach in a variety of sustainable, nature-based enterprises. He seeks to raise awareness of the heritage of maple syrup production in this region and has introduced a range of tree syrups to Virginia landowners.

12. Photographic Creations – Cards
TIME: Tuesdays, 1:00 – 2:30
FEE: $25
DATES: 4 weeks: Feb 21, 28, Mar 7, 14
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Crescent Room,2000 Kraft Dr, Suite 2100

LLI’s technology series “Photographic Creations” focuses this semester on greeting cards designed from digital images taken with a camera or phone, or heritage photos that have been scanned. Acquiring the skill to make greeting cards is rewarding in itself, but it also offers advantages. Cards created by the sender have the power to speak to the recipient in unique and personal ways. They can be customized to occasions not covered in the standard categories on the greeting card aisle. Receiving a beautiful, handmade card from a friend often seems like a gift in itself.

We’ll cover the whole process of creating cards. You will learn how to choose your photos, gather the appropriate materials, and select the right application. Then we’ll work through your project in class and share the results with each other.

Participants should bring laptops (any kind); phones and laptops cannot be substituted.


  1. Making choices, finding your audience, sharing your treasures
  2. Choosing the right app
  3. Hands-on workshop
  4. Share your project

Diana George—Emerita Professor of Rhetoric and Writing, Virginia Tech. Since her retirement, Diana has turned her interests in photography, bird and plant life, and family history into books, cards, and calendars to share with family and friends.
Sandy Hagman—Retired Technical Writer, Editor, and Software Trainer. Since her retirement, Sandy devotes a lot of time to the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry, the Lifelong Learning Institute, and various Boards at Virginia Tech. Any downtime is spent reading and curating her doll collection.
Carolyn Meier—Retired Associate Professor, University Libraries

13. Financial Strategies for Retirees
TIME: Tuesdays, 3:00 – 4:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 4 weeks: Feb 21, 28, Mar 7, 14
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Crescent Room, 2000 Kraft Dr, Suite 2100

The noise around finances, investments, and the stock market seems to grow louder every day. In this class, we will cut through the static of the 24/7 news cycle and present participants with straightforward and actionable strategies, helping them to manage their wealth, reduce the stress of their investing, and take care of those they care about.

The course assumes a basic understanding of investing and financial planning, but everyone is welcome. Question and answer periods at the end of each session will allow the instructors to go into greater depth if requested and add further topics to the next session.


  1. Advanced planning: How much is enough? Life mapping; building a financial projection; choosing and working with financial professionals
  2. Types, risks, and uses of common investment asset classes: stocks and bonds; mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs); alternative investments; fixed investments, savings accounts, CDs; annuities
  3. Investing: investment decision models and concepts for financial success; the hidden costs of investing and ways to minimize; common types of accounts (401(k)s and 403(b)s; IRAs, traditional and Roth; Required Minimum Distributions and Qualified Charitable Distributions; college savings plans
  4. Estate planning (with Bettye Ackerman): estate planning tools; wills and trusts; using beneficiary designations; special needs trusts;

Chris French, CFA, worked in banking investments in New York before joining Plott & French Financial Advisors in 2014.
Michael Canestrari is a financial advisor with Plott & French.
Bettye Ackerman is an attorney representing clients primarily in estate planning and family law.

29. Exploring Oil Painting (rescheduled)
TIME: Tuesdays, 9:00-11:30
FEE: Fee: $35 + Materials fee $20
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 21, 28, Mar 14, 21, 28, Apr 11 (skip Mar 7, Apr 4)
LOCATION: Warm Hearth Village Center, Woodland Studio

With a no-fear approach, students will be encouraged to explore the many forgiving qualities of oil paints. Various materials and tools will be covered, including working with palette knives and incorporating cold wax for surprising effects. The class is geared for beginning as well as intermediate painters. The curriculum may be adjusted based on the goals and experience of students.


  1. Tools and painting surfaces
  2. Color—mixing/temperatures/relationships
  3. Tonal value/contrast/edges
  4. Design/composition/visual energy
  5. Goals—imitative or creative

Lois Stephens has a passion for painting in oils and enjoys helping others explore this rich medium. She currently maintains a studio in the Newport Community Center, and her work can be viewed online at


14. Prophetic Vision: James Baldwin in Contemporary Times
TIME: Wednesdays, 9:00 – 10:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 22, Mar 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

August 2, 2024 would have been the 100th birthday of James Baldwin. Now, more than ever, his words and ideas shape our discourse on race and identity. From Black Lives Matter, to American democracy, to sexuality, Baldwin is often quoted for his prophetic insight into the racial, cultural, and moral struggles of the American nation. This course will examine the resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s work through select critical and imaginative texts: two collections of essays, Notes of a Native Son (1955) and The Fire Next Time (1963), his 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room (202 pp.), and his controversial short story “Going to Meet the Man” (1965). The class will also explore contemporary critical discourses around Baldwin, including Raoul Peck’s 2014 documentary I Am Not Your Negro.


  • Baldwin on the idea of the American nation.
  • Baldwin on race and democracy.
  • Baldwin on identity, with specific focus on American identity and sexuality.
  • Baldwin’s resurgence in contemporary times.


Texts are widely available as pdfs on the internet or in used copies available from booksellers. Any edition will do. Please acquire all texts before the class begins. Prior to our first meeting, read the essays: “Autobiographical Notes,” “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” “Notes of a Native Son,” and “Stranger in the Village” from the anthology Notes of a Native Son.

  • Notes of a Native Son
  • Giovanni’s Room
  • The Fire Next Time
  • “Going to Meet the Man”

I Am Not Your Negro. We will view clips from the documentary in class; the whole film is streamable from Netflix, Hulu, Hoopla, and Amazon Prime.

15. Great Decisions
TIME: Wednesdays, 11:00 – 12:30
CLASS LIMIT: Unlimited
FEE: $35
DATES: 8 weeks: Feb 22, Mar 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Apr 5, 12
LOCATION: Hybrid: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 1300 Gladewood Dr, Blacksburg, OR Zoom Webinar
COORDINATOR: Victoria Cochran

Presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, VA

Great Decisions is a community discussion program on world affairs. The Foreign Policy Association develops background information and policy options for eight critical issues facing America and provides text and videos for discussion groups across the country. Participants prepare for class by reading a 10-page overview for each topic in a Briefing Book. Each meeting begins with a 30-minute video with information on the issues. A faculty resource person provides additional information and guides discussion via Zoom Webinar’s Q/A option.
Briefing book: available from
E-book version available from online sellers.

Feb 22—War Crimes
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has resulted in widespread charges of war crimes and calls for justice. But what exactly are war crimes? Opinions of what constitutes a war crime have evolved, as have ways to identify and punish the perpetrators. How will the war crimes committed in Ukraine be dealt with?
Resource Person: Aaron Brantly

Mar 1—China and the U.S.
For the past ten years, the United States and China have been locked in a competition for who has the greatest global influence. One major point of contention is the status of Taiwanese sovereignty, which has become even more relevant recently with the possibility that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may prompt China to take similar action regarding Taiwan. How will the United States engage a China which is increasingly seeking to expand its sphere of influence?
Resource Person: Paige Tan

Mar 8—Global Famine
Fears of global food shortages have followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted grain shipments from the major grain producer. But what about countries and regions that were suffering before this impending shortage? How is famine defined, and how is it different from simple food shortages? What if any remedies are there?
Resource Person: Catherine LaRochelle

Mar 15—Iran at a Crossroads
As of fall 2022, Iran was in a state of turmoil due to widespread protests against government-enforced wearing of the hijab, a failing economy, an ineffective new president, and the looming succession of the country’s leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Abroad, renewal of the Iran nuclear deal seems doubtful, and tensions remain high between Iran, Israel, and Arab states. Many Iranians have lost hope of a better future, and the country is at a crossroads. How should the United States deal with it?
Resource Person: William Ochsenwald

Mar 22—Energy Geopolitics
Access to oil and gas has long held an influence over the politics of individual nations and their relations with others. But as more countries move toward sustainable energy, and supply chain shortages affect the availability of oil and gas, how will this change the way in which the United States interacts with the outside world?
Resource Person: Arial Ahram

Mar 29—Climate Migration
As climate change accelerates and drought and rising sea levels become more common, millions of people in affected regions must uproot themselves and seek safety elsewhere. Who are these affected individuals, and how might the United States aid them, and be affected by the migration?
Resource Person: Anna Marie Bukvic

Apr 5—Economic Warfare
Waging economic warfare consists of a variety of measures from implementing sanctions to fomenting labor strikes. Such tools are utilized by states to hinder their enemies, and in the case of the United States have been used as far back as the early 19th century. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, economic warfare has been the main means for the west to challenge Russia. How effective will these sanctions be at convincing Russia to cease its war?
Resource Person: Jason Grant

Apr 12—Politics in Latin America
Electoral results in Latin America over the past four years have led many observers of the regional/political scene to discern a left-wing surge in the hemisphere, reminiscent of the so-called “Pink Tide” that swept the area some 20 years ago. But how much do these politicians actually have in common? What implication does their ascendency have for the region?
Resource Person: Ilja Luciak

16. Learn to Play American Mah Jongg
TIME: Wednesdays, 1:00 – 3:00
FEE: $35
DATES: 4 weeks: Feb 22, Mar 1, 8, 15
LOCATION: Blacksburg Community Center, Community Room

Mah Jongg is a rummy-like game played with tiles rather than cards. The excitement of Mah Jongg lies in the decisions that you constantly have to make. It is a game of both skill and luck. “Mah Jongg” is declared by the first player to match 14 tiles to a hand on an official card of standard hands.

The four-week class will begin by introducing you to the tiles, the initial tile-passing sequence, and the rules for the play of the game. You will be playing hands in each class, and experienced players will be available to assist you. Strategies will be introduced as you become more familiar with the game. This class is for beginners; no previous knowledge of the game is necessary.

Sally Weber learned to play Mah Jongg in an LLI class and continues to be a 'regular' at the Mah Jongg sessions at the Blacksburg Recreation Center. Her mother played Mah Jongg, so the game has many sentimental memories for her.

17. Sherlock Holmes: The Stories That Made Him Famous
TIME: Wednesdays, 3:00 – 4:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 4 weeks: Feb 22, Mar 1, 8, 22 (skip Mar 15)
LOCATION: Warm Hearth Village Center, Woodland Studio

This course will use the Oxford World’s Classic edition, Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories, which collects the best of Conan Doyle’s famous Holmes stories. We will read 3–4 short stories a week and view scenes from classic film versions. We will investigate the following questions: why is Sherlock Holmes such an enduring and popular character? What are the elements of a classic Sherlock Holmes story? What have other readers and critics found to be important in these stories? What do the original stories tell us about 19th century England? How have they influenced the detective story? And more! Come and read with me. The game is afoot!


Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories, ed. Barry McCrea (Oxford World’s Classics) Inexpensive used copies of the text are widely available from internet sources and can be ordered from your local bookstores.

Rebecca Weaver-Hightower is a mystery lover, literature teacher, and life-long fan of Sherlock Holmes. She is excited to be spending part of the spring wallowing in mystery with LLI reading mates!

18. Feasting on Plants
TIME: Wednesdays, 3:00 – 4:30
FEE: $35 + Materials Fee: $15
DATES: 4 weeks: Mar 29, Apr 5, 12, 19
LOCATION: Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall and Kitchen

The author Michael Pollan has written, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” In this hands-on class, we will teach you how to follow this advice, preparing great food from whole and lightly processed plants (like tofu) that you can feature on meatless days. In our discussions, we will dispel some myths about plant-based diets such as “you can’t get enough protein.” You will learn how eating plants can be both tasty and nutritious, and you will get to sample some delicious recipes.


  • Nutritional value of a plant-based diet, including macronutrients and micronutrients
  • Ethical considerations of our diets
  • Why eating plants is better for the environment
  • Recipes that can be used frequently, with variations

Gordon Yee and Diego Troya are both faculty members in the Virginia Tech Chemistry Department. Diego has been mostly vegan for more than 15 years and bicycles almost everywhere. Gordon eats everything. They both love to cook and to share food with others.


19. Effective Altruism
TIME: Thursdays, 9:00 – 10:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 3 weeks:Mar 16, 23, 30
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018

While humanity has experienced staggering improvements in life expectancy, life satisfaction, safety, and happiness during the last two centuries, problems such as extreme poverty and infant mortality from preventable causes still cause widespread suffering across the world today. The effective altruism movement recognizes that individuals in affluent societies have a moral obligation to help the destitute and aims to identify the best strategies to ameliorate suffering.

In this course, participants will be challenged to expand their circle of concern to include not only their families, friends, and neighbors, but also those who live in less affluent societies and beyond. The participants will also help the instructor decide an effective organization for a $3,500 unrestricted cash donation.


  • The ethical foundations of altruism
  • The connection between altruism and life satisfaction
  • The most effective ways to alleviate suffering and improve well-being
  • The question of whether charity should begin at home
  • Emotion vs reason as drivers for altruism
  • Our responsibility toward future generations and non-human sentient beings


  1. Ethical explorations. What are our responsibilities to strangers? The toddler in the drowning pool scenario. “How rich am I?”: a calculation exercise. The correlation between money and self-satisfaction.
  2. Overview of current charitable activity in the US. The role of reason and emotion as prompts for generosity. The tenets of effective altruism. The critique of effective altruism.
  3. Giving day. Participants help the instructor decide on a cause for a $3,500 donation of his own money. Under consideration: local candidates (such as the Lyric theater and the VT athletic program); national candidates (Planned Parenthood, political action committees); and global candidates (Greenpeace, UNICEF, etc.) Ranking the candidates. Two final ethical considerations.


The Life You Can Save, by Peter Singer, 2009 (a free eBook can be obtained at “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” by Peter Singer, 1971.

Links to useful websites will be distributed to participants.

Diego Troya is a faculty member in the Virginia Tech Chemistry Department. Diego has been interested in helping others since settling in the New River Valley over 18 years ago. He has been committed to effective causes to end extreme poverty and infant mortality.

20. Writing Poetry
TIME: Thursdays, 11:00 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 23, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Where do we turn when we need words to express the inexpressible—joy at a birth, sorrow at a terrible loss? Where do we turn to mark momentous occasions or to whisper to ourselves our most secret heartbreaks and desires? And where do we turn when we want to play with words, slippery and colorful as pool toys, for the sheer fun of it? To poetry, of course!

This poetry writing class creates a space for self-expression as well as for transforming self-expression into works of verbal art. We will read poems by both classical and contemporary poets; we will draft and revise our own poems; we will, as a class, use collaborative workshops to share work and offer observations and insights on each other’s poems. The class will address technical matters of craft—image, sound, line, shape, and structure—and explore poems ranging from straight narrative to wildly experimental. The primary focus, though, will be on class members discovering their own aesthetic, style, and voice.

At our first class, we will get to know each other and look ahead to our work together. Students will not need a textbook; links will be provided to published poetry online.

Gyorgyi Voros is the author of Notations of the Wild: Ecology in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens and of a collection of poems, Unwavering. Her work has been published in literary journals and anthologies, including The Eco-Poetry Anthology and A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia.

21. Playing with the Boys: How Women Reinvented Science Fiction
TIME: Thursdays, 11:00 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 5 weeks: Feb 23, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23

From the 1930s through the 1970s, male authors writing for an audience primarily composed of boys and men dominated the science fiction scene. But women writers have long been interested in science fiction as well, especially in combination with such related literary forms as fantasy, horror, and alternative history—generic hybrids now known as speculative fiction. Women writing in these mixed genres often found ways to subvert cultural norms, definitions, and expectations.

In this Zoom class, we will read and discuss science fiction short stories written by women during these breakthrough decades. We will discuss 2-3 short stories each week, moving chronologically, but emphasizing the earlier decades, which are considered the “classic years” of science fiction. The stories we will read are very different from one another, some more scientific and others more fantastic, but all exhibit bold imagination and frequently surprise the reader. They are sure to evoke lively discussion.


  1. Introductions and preview of the course. (No reading assignment)
  2. 1930-1950: Early female forays into science fiction
  3. Learning the game: Women leave their mark
  4. “Science” v. “fiction”: Women create worlds
  5. The 1970s and beyond


Selected short stories from the anthology Women of Wonder: The Classic Years, ed. Pamela Sargent. Inexpensive used copies of this paperback are available from a variety of internet booksellers. Contact Nancy Metz ( if you have difficulty ordering the book.

Karen Swenson recently retired from Virginia Tech, where she taught medieval studies, Shakespeare, and science fiction.

22. The Founding of the American Regime
TIME: Thursdays, 11:00 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 23, Mar 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Crescent Room, 2000 Kraft Dr, Suite 2100

The founding principles of the American regime have survived a bloody Civil War, helped win a World War, and brought the United States to a preeminent position in the 20th Century. Do these principles still have the power to engage contemporary problems and issues? Are they still relevant? Do they still inspire?

We can’t begin to answer questions like these until we truly understand the founding theory of the American regime as articulated in the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution (1787), and the Federalist Papers (1787-1788). Coming to grips with these core documents will be the focus of this course.

The course does not assume that the founding principles are above serious criticism—merely that they are defensible in their own right and explain much of the subsequent course of American political development. If, as has often been said, the founding principles of American democracy have never before been so severely stressed, a better understanding of their origin and evolution will help us understand more clearly what is at stake.


  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Constitution
  • Selections from The Federalist Papers

Note that the edition of The Federalist published by the Liberty Fund prints all 85 of the Federalist Papers, with the Declaration of Independence included as an appendix. It is available inexpensively through various booksellers or online as a pdf:

Sidney (Al) Pearson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Radford University

23. Human Stem Cell and Gene Therapy
TIME: Thursdays, 11:00 – 12:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 5 weeks: Feb 23, Mar 2, 16, 23, 30 (skip Mar 9)

Novel treatments for human diseases involve the use of human gene or stem cell therapy. This course will discuss the basics of human stem cells and gene therapy and the status of the current FDA-approved stem cell and gene therapy trials for severe combined immunodeficiency, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, cancer, macular dystrophy, diabetes, and spinal cord injury.


  1. Human stem cells
    1. Characteristics of human stem cells
    2. Controversial issues over the derivation of human stem cells
    3. Results from FDA-approved human stem cell trials
  2. Human gene therapy
    1. Approaches for human gene therapy
    2. Results from FDA-approved human gene therapy trials

Eric Wong is the John W. Hancock Professor of Animal Science in the School of Animal Sciences at Virginia Tech, where, for 31 years, he has taught numerous courses in molecular biology, and in agricultural and human biotechnology.

24. Italian for Travelers
TIME: Thursdays, 1:00 – 2:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 23, Mar 2, 9,16, 23, 30
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Crescent Room, 2000 Kraft Dr, Suite 2100

This course is an introduction to speaking and understanding the Italian language with an emphasis on the cultural and artistic traditions so important to the traveler to this magnificent country. Students who took the previous Introduction to Italian course offered by LLI will benefit from the additional practice and specific attention to the vocabulary of travel. No prerequisite is necessary, however. Beginners are welcome. Have you ever wanted to learn Italian? Do you plan to travel to Italy? Andiamo!

June Stubbs taught Italian for 25 years at Virginia Tech. She studied Italian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the Scuola di Dante in Florence. She has lived in Rome off and on over several years. Her favorite ristorante is Vecchia Roma, and she likes a cappuccino at Campo dei Fiori.

25. Communicating Using Gmail and Google Groups
TIME: Thursdays, 1:00 – 2:30
FEE: $35
DATES: 3 weeks: Mar 16, 23, 30
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018

Many of us use Gmail for routine email exchanges, but some may not be aware that Google Suite offers multiple ways of communicating within a flexible and integrated set of apps. In this workshop, we will explore Gmail and Google Groups, demonstrating the ways they speak to each other, enabling multiple channels of communication and collaboration within groups. Learning more about Gmail and Google Groups will help you organize your contacts, keep families and workmates connected, and manage tasks and projects.


  1. Introducing the Gmail interface
  2. Updating settings to do more with Gmail
  3. Automating & simplifying with Gmail & Google Groups

Kayla McNabb is the Assistant Director of Teaching & Learning Engagement in the University Libraries and a Ph.D. student in the Instructional Design and Technology program as well. She works with her colleagues to facilitate learning design, digital literacy education, and community-engaged programming on campus and beyond.

26. Creating Your Plan for Aging in Place
TIME: Thursdays, 3:00 – 4:30
FEE: $35 + Materials fee $10
DATES: 3 weeks: Mar 9, 16, 23
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018

Like a majority of older Americans, you may intend to live in your current home for as long as possible, or you may view “Place” as an emerging concept. Your decision to age in place may seem like an obvious and logical choice; yet, aging in place is more than just planning to stay in your home. Your decision to age in place should be part of a process that includes personal reflection, conversations with people important to you, intentional planning, and action.

This course will explore the five essential aspects of an effective plan to age in place: housing, health and wellness, finances, transportation, and social relationships. Through your responses to questions in the course workbook and small group conversations, you will identify the areas where you need to seek more information; determine which legal, financial, or health issues you need to address; and outline conversations you need to initiate with family members or your support team/friends. Spouses/partners/adult children are encouraged to attend with you to facilitate the creation of a workable plan.


  1. Creating a plan; housing Health and wellness; connection and growth
  2. Finances; transportation and using planning


Aging in Place: Your Home, Your Community, Your Choice. A Workbook for Planning Your Future. Created and compiled by the Aging in Community Leadership Team of the New River Valley, Virginia. The materials fee for the course covers the cost of this workbook. Each participant will receive a printed copy in class.

Leslie Pendleton, retired counselor and president of AARP Blacksburg and Jerry Niles, retired Virginia Tech professor and Aging in Place advocate


27. Open Studio Watercolor Class
TIME: Fridays, 9:00 – 11:00
FEE: $35 + Materials fee $35
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 24, Mar 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
LOCATION: Blacksburg Community Center, Community Room

Welcome to LLI’s first Open Studio Watercolor Class, a place for everyone and every skill level, where you will learn how to let the water do the work for you. Students will work at various skills levels with a weekly design and art element focus. If possible, class will include figures, still life, outdoor scenes, and photos. More advanced students will be partnered with beginning students in class activities that involve networking, peer tutoring and critique. Individual and beginning level “pull out” sessions will address specific instruction, as needed.


  1. What supplies to buy and why - including brushes, paper, pigments, palettes and more.
  2. Basic to advanced techniques including wet-in-wet, dry-on-wet, dry-brush, flat washes, graded washes, and more.
  3. A full range of watercolor concepts including negative painting, layering, composition, and much more.


Participants will purchase their own basic supplies; a list will be distributed in advance. The materials fee is used for other specialized supplies.

Jessica Pace-Berkeley is a Professional Fellow of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Artist in Residence at the Don and Catherine Bryan Cultural Series, Outer Banks.

28B. Preparing Classic Moroccan Cuisine
TIME: Friday, 1 week, 9:00-2:00
FEE: $35
DATE: April 19th, 9:00 – 2:00, in person at the instructor’s home, including lunch
LOCATION: instructor's home

Moroccan cuisine is often described as rich, sensual and colorful, sophisticated and artfully presented. It has been influenced by the ethnic groups that historically populated different regions of the country, by Portuguese and Spanish invasions during the 15th-16th centuries, and by Morocco’s proximity to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and African neighbors. These diverse influences led to the adoption of a wide variety of foods from elsewhere, often modified to make them uniquely Moroccan. Some key characteristics of the cuisine are: a wide variety of salads, special breads, meat combined with dried fruit and nuts, phyllo-layered dishes, preserved lemons, sumac and special spice mixtures, and desserts with fruit, nuts and nut flours.


During the class, we will meet at the instructor’s house from 9:00-2:00 and spend the morning cooking the featured recipes. Around noon, we will gather around the table to enjoy our 3-4 course Moroccan lunch.

Anne McNabb loves exploring international cuisines. She bought her first Moroccan cookbook in 2000 and has been cooking classic Moroccan dishes and acquiring more cookbooks ever since.

29. Exploring Oil Painting - RESCHEDULED to TUESDAYS
FEE: Fee: $35 + Materials fee $20
DATES: 6 weeks: Feb 24, Mar 10, 17, 24, 31, Apr 14 (skip Mar 3, Apr 7)
LOCATION: Warm Hearth Village Center, Woodland Studio

This course has been rescheduled to TUESDAYS - View listing.

30. Creating and Managing Secure Passwords
DATE/TIME: Friday, Feb 24, 1:30 - 3:00 (one session)
FEE: $15

Where computers are concerned, “security is a back and forth between bad actors and defenders,” according to Jeff Lang, Director of Cyber Defense Operations at Virginia Tech. Jeff and Heather Moorefield-Lang will lead this practical and informative one-session course covering strategies that will help you feel—and be—safer online. You will learn how to create secure passwords and deploy them strategically. You’ll come away with techniques for organizing, remembering, and updating large numbers of passwords, including the role of password managers. Emphasis will be placed on empowering users to prevent common and sometimes costly cyberattacks.

Heather Moorefield-Lang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science at University of North Carolina Greensboro. She is interested in how technologies can enhance instruction in libraries and classrooms.
Jeff Lang has been with the Virginia Tech Security Office since August of 2012 and brings with him 16 years of IT experience. He is a SANS certified Intrusion Analyst, Windows Security Administrator, Network Forensics Analyst, Python Coder, Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst and Certified Enterprise Defender.

31. Introduction to Podcasts
DATE/TIME: Friday, Mar 10, 1:00 - 2:30 (one session)
FEE: $15
LOCATION: Corporate Research Center, Concept Room, 1880 Pratt Dr, Suite 2018

Podcasts offer an audio sampler of life. They can be funny, informative, and touching; they can offer insights into politics, culture, history, or science. Podcasts can accompany you on a walk or a drive; they can be your companion while you are washing dishes or sitting by the fire in the evening. They are portable and convenient. The team from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) at Radford University will show you how to find podcasts, how to download them, and how to listen to them. Bring your phone or tablet and your headphones for a hands-on experience. We’ll share some of our favorites with each other.

Samantha J. Blevins has worked as an Instructional Designer & Learning Architect at Radford University’s CITL for the past six years. She has broad design and teaching experience in various educational settings, including K-12, higher education and professional development.
She will be joined by members of her team of instructional designers from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) at Radford University.


32. A Visit to Solitude
DATE/TIME: Friday, Mar 3, 1:30 - 3:30
FEE: $15
LOCATION: 705 West Campus Drive, Virginia Tech

LLI invites you to tour Solitude, the oldest remaining structure on the Virginia Tech campus, and Fraction house, once home to the enslaved people on the property. Our tour of these buildings will be embedded in a broader discussion of the land, the people, and the various cultures that left their imprint on this site. We’ll recall that this was a place of solitude for thousands of years—unspoiled, peaceful, and private.The Tutelo and Monacan used their close association with the land to oversee and protect this region. The natural resources readily available provided food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and household goods. The knowledge gained was knowledge passed on to the next generation and to the new immigrants who came here and built their homes, wealth, and social stature. There will be an information session to discuss the Indigenous people who called this region home and an opportunity for questions and answers.
Parking is available at the Virginia Tech Inn and Conference Center. Participants are urged to carpool with those who have VT parking stickers enabling access to a wider range of parking options.

Victoria Ferguson is an enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation of Virginia, recently appointed to the VT Office of Inclusion and Diversity as program coordinator for Solitude. There she is researching, curating, and creating displays of artifacts to tell the stories of everyday lives of Eastern Siouan populations up through the early European colonization period.

33. A Walk with Wildflowers
DATE/TIME: Friday, Apr 14, 10:00 – 12:00
FEE: $15
LOCATION: Falls River Nature Preserve, Ellett Valley

Join us on a wildflower walk at Falls Ridge Nature Preserve in the Ellett Valley. Our group will hike through fields and forests while observing a profusion of spring flowers, some of which are unique to this location. The preserve boasts a spring-fed travertine waterfall, and the unique soil generates a diversity of interesting vegetation, especially wildflowers.

Meet at the site wearing comfortable walking shoes or boots if the weather is wet. Hiking sticks are recommended because some parts of the trail are steep and rocky. Cameras and binoculars are welcome. Insect spray is recommended.

Gloria Schoenholtz is a former high school science teacher and environmental educator. In her retirement she enjoys nature photography. She is the author/photographer for the Virginia Wildflowers website:

34. Walking Tour of Historic Pulaski and Lunch
DATE/TIME: Monday, April 24, 9:30 – 1:00
FEE: $15 (lunch not included)
LOCATION: Meet at Ratcliffe Museum, 51 Commerce St., Pulaski

Join local historian April Martin on a visit to the Ratcliffe and Courthouse Veterans museums and a walkabout past Pulaski’s historic sites, including the 1920 fire station, the 1917 Post Office, the Park memorials, and historic churches. The tour will include a talk by Calfee Community & Cultural Center's Board President, Dr. Mickey Hickman, about the rich history of the Jim Crow-era Calfee Training School (1894–1966). Enjoy lunch on your own cost at Al's on First.
Car-pooling is encouraged. The walk is less than a mile on mostly flat ground.

April Martin is the Director of Education for Wilderness Road Regional Museum in Historic Newbern and the Museum Coordinator for the Ratcliffe Museum in Pulaski. Her family roots go back nine generations in the New River Valley.
Dr. Mickey Hickman recently retired from a 42-year career with the Pulaski County Public School system and now serves as the Board President for the Calfee Community and Cultural Center. Dr. Hickman attended Calfee Elementary School, the Christiansburg Institute, Pulaski High School, Virginia Tech, and Radford University.

35 A, 35 B. A Walk with Outdoor Sculptures
35 A: Tuesday, April 25, 9:15 – 1:45
35 B: Tuesday, May 2, 9:15 – 1:45
LOCATION: Out There Studio and Sculpture Trail, Floyd Co. (

Participants meet at 9:15 to carpool from Uptown Christiansburg Mall, directly across from IHOP. Wear walking shoes and bring your lunch.

Artist Charlie Brouwer will lead a tour through his studio and discuss his inspiration and process. We will walk with Charlie to see his large-scale wood sculptures placed throughout his beautiful property. Some of the pieces are on a woodland trail with rocks, roots, and inclines. Only the sure-footed will want to do this part of the tour. We will eat together afterwards, so bring your lunch and a blanket or folding chair.

Charlie Brouwer has been making art since 1968. His creative work encompasses small indoor gallery pieces, large outdoor sculptures, indoor and outdoor installations, and public art projects and has been included in nearly 300 exhibitions since 1975.

36. Day Trip to Historic Lexington
DATE/TIME: Wednesday, May 10, 8:15 – 6:30 (est.)
TRIP LIMIT: 15 minimum, 25 maximum
FEE: $54 - Fee includes fully guided tour, all admissions, and transportation. Lunch extra at the Southern Inn
Bus transportation and trip coordination is provided by Blacksburg Parks and Recreation. If your registration is confirmed with LLI, you will be sent payment instructions. Your seat is not guaranteed unless and until you make payment to the trip coordinator.
LOCATION: Depart Blacksburg Community Center

Join Joy Herbert, supervisor of Active Adult Programs for the Blacksburg Recreation Center, for a tour of historic Lexington led by a local guide. We will visit Virginia Military Institute and browse the exhibits at the VMI Museum, the first public museum in the Commonwealth and home to over 15,000 artifacts chronicling the history of America’s first state-sponsored military college. A stop at Oak Grove Cemetery will underscore the significance of Lexington’s role in military history and government service. The tour will include time to explore Washington & Lee University Chapel, a simple brick and limestone structure built by Lee soon after the Civil War when he was president of what was then called Washington College. Lunch at the Southern Inn in Lexington’s historic downtown will be followed by shopping if there is time, and then a final stop at the Stonewall Jackson House, the only house owned by the Confederate general. The home and its collections shed light on Jackson’s life in Lexington before the Civil War—as professor, businessman, public servant, and husband.

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