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A Successful 2017 Osher Institutes National Conference

The 2017 Osher Institutes National Conference held in Irving Texas, April 3 – 5, 2017, lived up to the well-known saying “Bigger’n Texas” – with ample opportunities to share ideas and celebrate the mission of lifelong learning. Two Institute representatives from each of the 120 Osher Institutes were invited to attend – including one staff member and one volunteer leader. Of the 262 participants, guests, and speakers, 57% had never previously attended an Osher National Conference. Attendees experienced four plenary sessions, four breakout sessions, and, a choice of two facilitated table topic discussions. There were also numerous opportunities for networking, casual conversations, and collaborations during breaks and meals. Beautiful weather helped participants enjoy springtime with morning walks, outdoor meals and breaks.

Plenary sessions included a presentation on generational differences in volunteer engagement by author and consultant Beth Steinhorn of the JFFixler Group, a keynote address by noted “elderhood” activist, geriatrician and author Dr. Bill Thomas, and a panel discussion on fundraising and development within the context of Osher Institutes. The wide variety of content in breakout session workshops covered topics such as curriculum development, mobilizing volunteers, culture and diversity, on-line learning experimentation, space resource management, marketing, and successful campus community service projects. Attendees repeatedly expressed their gratitude to The Bernard Osher Foundation for their generous and long-standing support of this 11th National Conference.

Through follow-up surveys, participants describe their conference experiences:

  • The conference was extremely well-organized, friendly, welcoming, and very, very useful in terms of the topics and networking opportunities offered.
  • Very thorough with a wide variety of perspectives. Helpful.
  • The content was good, full of common sense info on schedules, deadlines, and volunteer roles.
  • Very impressive and inspiring to hear about the successes of the presenting OLLIs. They all did a great job sharing steps and approaches that work.
  • This was one of the best conference I have ever attended. It was so well thought out, and the other attendees were wonderful and it energized me.
  • Absolutely great conference – topics were all relevant, food was fantastic, great to network and hear from others. Fantastic job.

The Osher Institutes National Conference is a sesquiannual, multi-day meeting that has been held at intentionally varied locations throughout the country since 2003. The Conference is fully funded by The Bernard Osher Foundation, and organized by the National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Northwestern University in collaboration with leaders throughout the Osher Network of Lifelong Learning Institutes.

See a collection of photos from the 2017 conference on the NRC Facebook page.

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