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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Fischer – President
Claudeen Oebser – Vice President
Kay Ironside – Treasurer
Amy Alpine – Co-Secretary
Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement
Fiscal Year August 2020 – July 2021
The eleventh fiscal year of Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement from August 2020 through July 2021 contained a cancelled fall term and a spring/summer term held predominately on Zoom. Schools remained closed, and, although CVLR members were getting vaccinated, COVID was still prevalent. In the fall we conducted a survey of our members to find out what they wanted from CVLR and what they would attend. The 364 members who participated strongly indicated that they longed for the return of in-person classes but thought that was not prudent for spring/summer. While 134 had Zoom fatigue, we discovered that 274 had used Zoom. A majority, 218, were interested in attending classes via Zoom.
Based on those results, the CVLR Board decided to offer a limited number of classes on Zoom only in March and April 2021. Coordinators assembled twenty-four classes, and we sent out the information about those offerings via e-mail. As per usual, we listed them on the CVLR website. We had 271 members take these offerings. In advance of the classes, coordinators attended training sessions on presenting classes on Zoom. We had both individual and group sessions with Joe Hagaman in preparation. This effort showed as the classes on Zoom went smoothly. We received many compliments from members about our presentations.
We recorded most of the offerings and made those recordings available for two weeks for members to view. Members showed an interest in watching the recordings. We offered three classes outside in the summer, one in each of the months of May, June, and July. Members embraced the opportunity to get out. The first class was limited and quickly filled. The second and third had good attendance.
We did not renew memberships during the fiscal year, applying the membership from Spring/Summer 2020 to Spring/Summer 2021. Thus CVLR membership retained the 889 number and added six more members in Spring/Summer 2021.
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 did not hold a Holiday Luncheon in December 2020 due to COVID.
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. Eleven of our twenty-seven classes were presented by members 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 95% 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 Web site 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. All ten board members continued their terms in 2019 – 2020, and Karen Schauer was added as a director. Elizabeth Fischer and John Stoneberg became president and vice president. Kay Ironside stayed on as treasurer, and Sally Felling and Amy Alpine retained the co-secretary positions. 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.