Expanded topics coming to Encore this spring

Published 11:33 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

by Teri Zurfluh

Whether you choose to get up close and personal with some local honeybees, reward your palate with various wines and chocolate, or take in some of the more than 2,000 plantings at the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens, the Encore Learning Program at Paul D. Camp Community College has something for you.

The popular lifelong learning program offered by the Division of Workforce Development helps its members stay young by offering non-credit courses to adults 50 and better who want to improve their skills, explore new ideas, and interact with interesting people in the community.

With over 40 courses and trips this spring, Encore Learning has expanded the experience to include more topics in order to reach a wider audience.

The spring 2018 calendar includes classes on genealogy, music and the mind, river kayaking, Windows 10, financial fitness, yoga, painting, nutrition, card making, beekeeping, line dancing, and so much more. Encore members will also be traveling to area art and history museums, botanical gardens, and local farms.

“Our spring program is one of the best ones we’ve ever offered,” Director Teri Zurfluh said proudly about the five-year-old program that has grown from four members to more than 60. “But as my Encore members remind me often, we can’t get too comfortable.”

Zurfluh has been working hard in preparation for this season, as she hopes to have more than 58 participants signed up by the start of classes in early February, which is the mandated minimum of memberships that will allow the program to continue.

“We have to continue to look for ways to maintain this program’s relevance… to always serve the Encore community we’ve all worked so hard to build. We are proud to be the ‘community’ in Community College.”

In the spirit of continuous improvement, Encore Learning has made some changes to the overall program to make it viable for the future and to simplify the membership process. Encore membership will cost $199 per person and will cover programming for spring and fall seasons, and the number of classes packed in each season has increased significantly. Over 70 percent of this season’s offerings will be free to Encore members, with a few “Encore Extras” classes available for additional fees. A payment plan is also available for members to spread the payments out to make it easier for people to enroll in Encore.

“No one wants this to be the end of Encore,” said Zurfluh. “We’ve worked hard to create a high-quality program that members will value.”

Marguerite Leathers of Courtland has been a long-time member, along with her husband, Paul.

“Encore Learning has value,” she said. “Any seniors who are Encore Learners will tell you how much this program means and how wonderful it is that we have it available to us. Encore Learning is truly a blessing in my life and in my husband’s life.”

Barbara Herrala of Windsor is another dedicated member to the Encore Learning program.

“It’s not like taking a class for weeks at a time —no tests or papers involved,” she said. “Basically, it’s learning for the pure joy and fun of it, little bits at a time.”

Zurfluh added, “If you’re inquisitive and love to learn, Encore is your tribe. We are lifelong learning in action.”

Registration for Encore is open and materials are available at the Regional Workforce Development Center and online at www.pdc.edu/workforce-development/encore-learning/. For more information, call Teri Zurfluh at 569-6062 or email encorelearning@pdc.edu.