ElderCollege is for the birds and more

Seniors' program takes learning on the road.

  • Dec. 6, 2011 6:00 a.m.

By Marlene Robertson

I must be the luckiest writer on Vancouver Island, or possibly the world.

I’m able to do something I love – such as write ElderCollege Chatter – and have met dozens of ‘with it’ seniors, or perhaps I should say mature adults, at the pilot outreach program road show we’ve been holding the last couple of months.

I’m sad to say it will soon be coming to an end. But before we say so long and figure out if there’s a need for the program in the long-term, let me tell you about the last two events I attended.

Our afternoon at Berwick on the Lake definitely got off on the right note when David Klinger presented Classics for Pleasure.

Not only is Klinger a fine pianist, entertaining us with everything from the classics to jazz, but he’s a comedian as well and kept the large group well entertained.

I think the most fun was the good old-fashioned sing-a-long. Some of the audience members may not be totally mobile, but they can sure sing.Overall, his program is a nice way to learn more about some of the amazing composers we have come to know and love.

A week later, we pulled into General G.R. Pearkes, Buttertubs Hall, where Colin Bartlett took us Birding – Backyard and Beyond.

An attentive group had lots of questions as Bartlett talked about the birds passing through Nanaimo on their way to a warmer climate, and their antics as they rested and fattened up before the next leg of their flight.

He gave us all a lesson on how to feed the Anna’s hummingbird who has been one of our winter guests for the last 35 years or so.

One of the residents thought she had totally lost it when she saw ducks roosting in a tree, but lo and behold, common mergansers and wood ducks really do roost and nest in trees.

Bartlett also talked about birds nesting in custom-built homes and how different entry ways and locations were needed to accommodate them.

Now that the ElderCollege Residential Sampler Pilot Program comes to an end, I want to introduce Jane Martin, the brains and brawn behind this experimental project.

Martin put in endless hours visiting residential and assisted living homes, talking about the outreach program and signing them up to try it out.

The other unsung heroes are the volunteers who presented these programs in addition to instructing their regular ElderCollege courses. They are a fine group and it was my privilege to meet and work with them.

Of course, we couldn’t have accomplished any of it without the leadership of our chairwoman, Lynda McCullough.

If you’re over 50, sign up for one or several of the wonderful courses offered through ElderCollege.  For more information, please call 1-866-734-6252 or e-mail pqcampus@viu.ca.