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Wildlife, Weather Among the Topics For Osher Classes

Springfield, Vt. — Weather lore, Vermont wildlife and democracy in the Middle East are among the topics of the Springfield, Vt., Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s fall classes, which start Aug. 27.

The program, sponsored by the University of Vermont, is run by local volunteers who share their expertise on various subjects. It is geared toward people age 50 and older who enjoy learning for the fun of it, but people of all ages are welcome.

Now in its 10th year, the Springfield group has 55 members, said Marita Johnson, who helped found and now facilitates the Springfield institute. “Every year we gain new members that have recently retired,” Johnson said in an email. “They keep reading about our interesting programs in the newspapers, and they tell us that they could hardly wait to retire so they could come to our programs.”

Programs generally draw 40 to 60 people, and those focused on local history or nature are especially popular, she said.

The talks are set for Tuesdays at 2 p.m. at the Nolin Murray Center on Pleasant St., next to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They are about 90 minutes long. The cost is $8 per program for non-members, or $40 for a membership, which includes entrance to the fall programs and admittance to the other seven Osher Institutes throughout the state.

Memberships can be purchased at the door or in advance. To join, or request a fall brochure, contact Joyce Lindamood, treasurer, at P.O. Box 92, Springfield, Vt. 05156. Checks should be made payable to the University of Vermont. Brochures are also available at local libraries, town halls and Chamber of Commerce offices. For more information, go to www.learn.uvm.edu/osher.

A list of the fall programs follows:

Aug. 27: Democracy and the Middle East. Retired CIA Station Chief Haviland Smith discusses the volatile situation in the Middle East and the historical events and philosophies that make peaceful cooperation difficult.

Sept. 3: Springfield Artists Examined. Learn about some of Springfield’s lesser-known 19th- and 20th-century artists. Ron Patch, historian and collector, covers George and William Picknell, Horace Brown, John Hogue and Joe Henry, whose physical disability was often reflected in his art.

Sept. 17: Colonial Meetinghouses of New England, with photographer Paul Wainwright. New England’s Colonial meetinghouses embody an important yet little-known chapter in American history. Through photographs of the few surviving “mint condition” meetinghouses, discover the story of the society that built them, and the lasting impact they have had on American culture.

Oct. 1: The Inside Story of the Sistine Chapel, with Mike Huff, CCV instructor and travel guide for International Classroom Tours. The placement of each piece of artwork in the Sistine Chapel was carefully thought out. Huff uses photos from his many travels to Rome to tell the inside story.

Oct. 15: Pedal to the Sea. In 2002, Gil Newbury, his wife, and their two young children pedaled a bicycle built for four across the United States. Newbury, an author and civil engineer, discusses the four-month, 4,685-mile ride.

Oct. 29: Morgan Horse History, with Stephen Davis, director, UVM Morgan Horse Farm. The Morgan Horse helped mold the lifestyle and countryside of New England in the early 1800s. Davis traces their history through the present day.

Nov. 12: Springfield Hospital’s 100 Years of Caring. The hospital, celebrating its centennial this year, started out as a small wood-frame building on Mt. Vernon Street. Larry Kraft, director of the Springfield Hospital Foundation, uses stories and archival photographs to chronicles its history.

Nov. 26: Vermont Wildlife, with Michael Clough, assistant director of the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. The live animal program focuses on Vermont creatures and the challenges they face. It includes a hands-on exploration of local fauna, through furs, skulls and other artifacts.

Dec. 3: Weatherwise and Other Whys. Mark Breen, planetarium director and senior meteorologist at the Fairbanks Museum, explores “weatherlore,” common weather-related sayings, such as “red at night, sailors’ delight,” which often hold true to scientific principles.

— Aimee Caruso