Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement

offers educational classes, trips, and tours to retired members of the Chippewa Valley.


History and Origin of CVLR (originally ILR)    Fall 1993
At the first department meeting of the Apparel, Textile, and Design Department, the department chair assigned each teacher do some project beyond teaching.  Ken Heintz thought Stout needed a system to bring back retired professors and have them offer classes to senior citizens.  He was advised to contact Jerry Kirsling and Sharon Olson to help him pursue this project.

In the spring of 1994, the original three met at Sharon’s house and invited others to attend.  Mary Bell Hickner helped them get a $200 grant.  Ken used some of the grant money to put ads in the Dunn County News about the group.  Following this announcement, twenty-eight to thirty people met.  Ken invited Marv Lansing to attend the meeting.  Jerry Kirsling contacted Betty Bennett at UW Green Bay who had just set up a group of this type in Green Bay.  She hopped on a bus and also attended this meeting.  They met in the senior center kitchen area and named Marv the first chair of the group.  After the meeting, Betty immediately returned to Green Bay via bus.


Fall 1994
This group arranged to meet in Heritage Hall/Home Ec Building 210.  They used more of their grant money to purchase coffee and donuts.  Ken expected about twenty-five people to attend, but one hundred people showed up.  They collected $10 in annual dues from each of them and ended up with $1000…money to burn!


Since then…

For sixteen years the organization served predominately Menomonie area residents. In 2010, we left UW-Stout due to financial considerations and became an independent 401(c)(3). Since then, our Eau Claire area membership has blossomed, and our overall membership has tripled. Now CVLR has members from Weyerhauser to the north, Stanley to the east, River Falls to the west, and Hixton to the south. After twenty years, we continue to make the CVLR experience very meaningful for its members.

Courses or sessions offered through the CVLR are open to anyone who is “retired.” There is no particular experience or educational background required of a participant. Course subjects grow out of member interests. Course length, scheduling, and structure are determined by the coordinators. Course leaders do not necessarily have formal credentials. They are people who have knowledge and skills in a particular subject.  All coordinators and presenters volunteer their time, efforts, and expertise without monetary compensation.  .

Members must pay yearly dues.  Some classes and trips have additional costs to cover fees directly incurred for that class or trip.  Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement does not take a percentage of the fees charged for these classes and trips but charges the actual costs to the participants.

Board members

Sharon Lowry – President  

(715) 874-5633

Kay Ironside – Treasurer  

(608) 449-2392

Amy Alpine – Co-Secretary

(715) 835-0894

Sally Felling – Co-Secretary

(715) 962-4314

Mike Hilger

(715) 832-8823

Claudeen Oebser

(715) 874-6054

Joyce Robbins  

(715) 235-8528

Herb Ruscin   

(715) 877-1642

Elizabeth Spader   

(715)  235-7003

John Stoneberg

(715) 832-8315

Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement
Annual Report
Fiscal Year August 2018 – July 2019

The ninth fiscal year of Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement from August 2018 through July 2019 has been another successful year.  From August, 2018, through July, 2019, CVLR membership remained steady with a total of 859 members.   While most of CVLR’s membership resides in the core cities of Menomonie and Eau Claire, members come from as far away as Baldwin and Glenwood City to the west; Chetek and Bloomer to the north; Stanley and Cadott to the east; and Hixton, Whitehall, Osseo, and Independence to the south.

We continued our mission of providing educational activities by offering 76 classes and trips in fall 2018 and 82 in spring 2019.  We had another enjoyable holiday luncheon at the Florian Gardens featuring entertainment by ecWIT.  In attendance were 379 members, presenters, and guests, the largest number ever in attendance.

We are a member-driven, all volunteer organization.  Our members belong to Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement because they are intellectually curious.  They want to learn about topics of interest to them.  That is why our offerings of classes and trips are the backbone of our organization.  Many of our classes are presented by members, 61 this year similar to the prior year, or contacts of members, tapping into their areas of expertise and their experiences.

We use e-mail to communicate with our membership.  We send class reminders via e-mail, announce registration and holiday luncheon mailings, and inform of class changes and cancellations.  Since 94% of members have e-mails, this has become a very useful communication tool.  We are using the CVLR Web site in new ways such as showing photos of projects prior to registration and hosting follow-up powerpoints and articles.

Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement is currently overseen by a ten-member board of directors.  All board members continued their terms in 2018-2019.  In addition to their fiscal and organizational contributions, board members also initiate and coordinate programs.  They coordinate the bulk of the programs, direct the program committees, and mentor new program committee members.  Since these program committees are key to the success of CVLR, we have been expanding the number of members involved in them.

Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement is a 501(c)(3) organization and is designated as exempt from sales tax by the State of Wisconsin.