Rutland Lecture Series

Fall 2014

The Rutland Area Osher Lifelong Learning Institute exists to promote continuing education for area residents aged fifty and over. Started in 2003 as an affiliate of the University of Vermont with a startup grant from the Osher Foundation, we are an all–volunteer, nonprofit organization.

We are grateful to the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department, and to the volunteers who make this program possible.

Time and Place
Each of the twelve lectures in this fall 2014 term will be from 1:30 to 3:00 PM on a Friday afternoon at the Godnick Adult Center, 1 Deer Street (off Woodstock Avenue) in Rutland. For directions to the Godnick Center or for program information call, 446-2041 or 492-2300.


September 5
Musical Activities of the Welsh-American Community
James Cassarino is Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Department at Green Mountain College and a leading authority on Welsh -American music. His presentation will discuss the rich cultural heritage of the VT/NY Welsh community, which boasted large festivals during the 19th century that celebrated the arts and music. There will be a special emphasis on the local Slate Valley Welsh.

September 12
From Sicily to Rutland: A Journey
Sandy Levesque, a native of Rutland, has been in marketing and public relations for most of her career. However, in today’s lecture she will speak about her book “Under a Fig Tree: A Family Memoir” which recounts the rich and stirring details of immigrants leaving Randanzzo in Sicily and the emergence of “Little Randanzzo” in Rutland. These newcomers were part of the burgeoning marble industry here.

September 19
The French-Canadian Influx to Rutland County
Michael F. Dwyer has researched and lectured on Vermont genealogy for over 30 years. His slide show will be on the 19th century immigration to Rutland and will explain the factors of why Quebec families settled in the state. He will provide examples of how surnames were garbled, changed, and sometimes lost, as well as explore strategies for further research.

September 26
Immigrants to the Slate Valley
Robert Isherwood is the Coordinator of Education at the Slate Valley Museum in Granville, NY. The discovery of slate over 175 years ago prompted waves of many immigrant groups seeking to forge new lives in America. Learn about the region’s immigrant history and some of the strategies the Museum uses to capture, preserve and share the personal stories of those immigrants.


October 3
Confessions of a Cereal Quilter
Have you heard about Crop Circles? What are they? Quilter Joanne Shapp became fascinated in 2005 with these huge patterns that appear in crop fields in England and elsewhere and has incorporated them into her own quilt patterns. This slide show presentation investigates the history, mystery, and controversy of the Crop Circle phenomena with internal and aerial views. Joanne will also bring several of her award-winning quilts.

October 10
Frida Kahlo and the Mexican Muralists
Bob Manning – artist, art historian, and retired Professor of Fine Arts – will speak about artist Frida Kahlo whose own work was not recognized until long after her death in1954. Her intensely personal portraits, along with social commentary murals by Mexican artists Diego Rivera (her husband), Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros will be shown and discussed.

October 17
Conservation Chronicles
From Native Americans to early European settlers, to land trusts, national parks, and wilderness areas, conservation thought and practice has taken many forms in North America over the past four centuries. Today’s program by Tim Maguire, Chief of Visitor Services and Interpretation at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP in Woodstock, will explore the attitudes and actions that have shaped our relationship with the land.

October 24
The Oldest Reef
The Chazy Fossil Reef on Isle La Motte in Vermont was formed 480 million years ago in a tropical sea south of the equator where Zimbabwe in Africa is today. Linda Fitch, founder and president of the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, will discuss the origins and preservation of this most ancient reef which received the prestigious designation of National Natural Landmark.


October 31
The Craft Movement in Vermont
Rob Hunter, Executive Director of Frog Hollow, the nation’s first state craft center, will present a general overview of the craft movement in Vermont and how Frog Hollow was created in response to it. The talk will follow the continual changes craftspeople have had to adapt to over the subsequent decades and current challenges artisans face in today’s economy.

November 7
Cheese the Old-Fashioned Way
Ken Hart has been a cheese maker at Crowley Cheese for over 15 years. He will share his expertise about the history of this company and the manufacture of its unique product which has been around since 1824 in its Healdville location. Handmade the old-fashioned way, this cheese is all-natural with no additives and preservatives. Samples will be provided for nibbling

November 14
The Art of Quilting
Marsha Cassel, Elaine Nordmeyer, and Rita Charlton, all members of Rutland’s Maple Leaf Quilters Guild, will talk about various aspects of this unique art form. From its early American beginnings through the Victorian period to its present popularity, the speakers will present an engaging slide and trunk show with lots of colorful examples.

November 21
The Teddy Bear In Vermont
Bill Shoudice IV was appointed president and CBO (Chief Bear Officer) of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in 2013. His lecture will look at how this business grew from its beginnings in 198l. Today it is one of the largest teddy bear producers in the world, manufacturing over 300,000 bears a year at its Shelburne factory. The location has also become a major tourist attraction with over 100,000 visitors annually to watch the iconic product being made.

Membership Information

Become a member today!

Membership in your local OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) entitles you to attend programs at any of the other 7 OLLI sites throughout Vermont, as well as EEE-Burlington (Elder Education Enrichment). Your active OLLI membership also entitles you to the discounted member rate for the OLLI programs on the UVM campus. Simply present your membership card during the corresponding semester.

Non-members may attend individual sessions for $5 at the door. Reservations are NOT required.

Memberships may be purchased at any session.
Regular price: $40

Mail your membership fee ($40) to:
c/o Gerrie Russell
PO Box 458
Killington, VT 05751

For a complete listing of all programs, see our listing in a pdf format.

Find Us On Facebook Find Us On LinkedIn


As a member-run program, OLLI at UVM relies on the talents, skills, and time of members to support its activities and to keep membership costs affordable.
Learn more...

WCAX Video about OLLI