Continuing Education encourages lifelong learning

May 4, 2018

Every Thursday evening for the next month 22 community members will attend class to learn about the little pollinators of the world: honeybees.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Continuing Education program offers the four-week class called The Local Life of Bees. It’s just one of more than 400 Continuing Education classes offered each year in Wisconsin.

Drew Kaiser teaches The Local Life of Bees, a current class offered through Continuing Education. With four total sessions, the class explores beekeeping, plants that help bees flourish, as well as art and other uses of honey-based products in everyday life. © 2018 Elizabeth Gosling

Drew Kaiser, a co-operator of Kaiserson Bee Company, teaches the class that focuses on the plants bees pollinate, how to help protect them and the products they offer.

Ted Simpson enrolled in the class because he’s an advocate for lifelong learning. This is his third Continuing Education class.

“You can’t stop learning. If you’re not learning, you’re dead. You’re a zombie,” Simpson said. “The world is too dynamic and too interesting to stop.”

Simpson, a bus driver, said he’s always been a curious person.

Continuing Education offers classes for community members like Simpson who don’t want to stop learning. The courses can also fulfill license requirements and offer professional development opportunities.

Hollie Moe, program manager for Continuing Education, said the department’s purpose is to spread the university’s resources across the Chippewa Valley.

As a former Continuing Education student herself, Moe worked at The Community Table, a nonprofit organization in Eau Claire. She said continuing education taught her skills she needed to work in administration for the position, and a lot of her learning took place on the job.

“I really honestly knew nothing about administration of an organization or nonprofit,” Moe said, “other than working in direct service with them and volunteering.”

So she enrolled in Continuing Education courses on nonprofit leadership and grant writing, among others, to prepare herself for the job.

The program hopes to bridge the gap between the university and the community, Moe said, by offering courses that offer a different approach than a typical college class.

“I know that from being a student and being involved on campus, sometimes campus can be it’s own little world of its own,” Moe said, “and so I really see us as an opportunity to bridge that gap.”

Courses range from community interest classes to supervisory courses.  Several classes are available online, such as courses in writing, French, communication sciences and disorders, technology, management and education.

Kathleen Mason, another student in the bee class, decided to enroll in the course to learn and meet others with an interest in bees.

Mason shares a 22-acre hobby farm. She’s in the process of devoting 7 acres to make a honey bee pollinator habitat through using a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The class will help her develop the habitat properly, she said. Mason thought the class was an opportunity to make connections with beekeepers.

This isn’t Mason’s first Continuing Education class. As a certified public accountant, she has enrolled in professional development classes.

Ann Wrzosek-Manor and her husband Steve Manor are taking the class to learn how to incorporate bees into their already-existing hobbies.

Wrzosek-Manor is an art teacher and makes cream using beeswax. She said if she was able to produce the beeswax itself, the entire product could be made locally. Her husband said he is interested in producing a type of honey beer or mead.

Manor said he’s grateful for opportunities that allow people to learn because knowledge is something that can’t be taken away.  

“I always say, ‘There’s nothing we don’t know, only things we haven’t learned yet,’” Manor said.

Wrzosek-Manor said she believes when people take the time to educate themselves they are making they’re making their communities stronger.

Programs offered through Continuing Education can be found here.

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