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!

That was the first meeting of the organization which became the Institute for Learning in Retirement in the Chippewa Valley.  Stout provided an office, and its accounting office processed the group’s monies.  The original officers were Marv Lansing, President; Eva Mewes, Treasurer; and Ken Heintz, Secretary.


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

Elizabeth Fischer – President

Claudeen Oebser –  Vice President

Kay Ironside – Treasurer  

Amy Alpine 

Pat Eggert

Joe Hagaman

Barb Hebert

Mike Hilger

Joyce Robbins

Chris Smith

Elizabeth Spader   


Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement
Annual Report
Fiscal Year August 2022 – July 2023

During the thirteenth fiscal year of Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement from August 2022 through July 2023 we erupted out of COVID, increasing our membership from 616 to 820 by June, 2023, which was 69 short of our 889 pre-COVID high.  Many were new members.

We returned to pre-COVID operations, offering 64 classes and trips for the 2022 fall term and 72 for the 2023 spring/summer one.  Since CVLR members have become accustomed to having recordings of most lecture classes to view, we continued to make these available, extending the access to them for the entire term rather than two weeks as we had originally offered.  We have found more and more members watching the recordings as demonstrated by the numbers of views.  With the opening of the new Chippewa Area History Center, we realized an opportunity to hold classes in Chippewa Falls in addition to Menomonie and Eau Claire.  We added a Chippewa Falls section to the booklet and website.  We also moved the bus trips to the opening of the booklet in its own section and a separate page on the website.

We held a Holiday Luncheon December 2 at the Florian Gardens with Madrigals from Memorial High School performing and 328 in attendance.  

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 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 and socially interact with like-minded individuals in the area.  Members presented 42 of our 141 classes this year, 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 97% of members have e-mails, this has become a very useful communication tool.  In addition to listing the current schedule and updates of what’s happening with CVLR, we use the CVLR website to give information on the organization, show photos of projects prior to registration, and host follow-up recordings, power points, and articles. 

Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement is currently overseen by an eleven-member board of directors.  Seven board members continued their terms in 2022-2023.  Officers were Elizabeth Fischer, president; Claudeen Oebser vice president; and Kay Ironside, treasurer.  Following Amy Alpine’s resignation as secretary in September 2022, that position remains open.  Claudeen and Elizabeth have been taking the minutes.  New board members include Barb Hebert, Pat Eggert, Joe Hagaman, and Chris Smith.  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 are 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.