Please check the Penn State Health Guidelines page for the latest information about the University’s ongoing COVID-19 response.

The following mini courses are free and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon arrival to the Arboretum, please check in near the Overlook Pavilion to sign in, pick up a map with course locations, and confirm course details. A sticker will be provided and must be worn to attend mini courses.

Be sure to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Seating is limited; you may need to stand for the duration of some mini courses.

10:00 a.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

Bird Watching in the Bird House
The Bird House in the Arboretum’s Pollinator and Bird Garden features an ample supply of bird feeders, an inviting bird bath, and a unique design that keeps visitors hidden from birds, allowing for wonderful views of our local avian wildlife.

Instructor: Rachel Duke
Rachel is the Arboretum’s 2022 avian education intern and is a master’s student in education, development, and community engagement.

Location: Bird House in the Pollinator and Bird Garden 

30 minutes

Photography 101
Explore photographic techniques and the equipment needed to photograph flowers and fauna.

Instructor: Gorman Findley
Gorman is a photography enthusiast who enjoys photographing a variety of subject matter, including sports, wildlife, macro, and landscape. Gorman has led the Photography Special Interest Group since 2019. 

Location: Rose and Fragrance Garden  

30 minutes

Line Dancing with the Silver Spur Line Dancers
Line dancing is great exercise for your body and your mind, and moving to music will boost your spirits, too. Put your dancing shoes on and join in on the fun with the Silver Spurs Line Dancers — all levels welcome!

Instructor: Marian Fritzsche
Marian majored in math at Northeastern University and taught math at the secondary level. Her goal was to help her students see how math’s logic and order could solve problems. Now that she is retired, Marian applies her love of patterns to quilting, gardening, and dancing. 

Location: Overlook Pavilion  

30 minutes

The Hartley Wood Story
Hartley wood is a unique patch of old-growth forest that can teach us many things. In this session you will learn how the last three hundred years of the Centre Region’s history is told through the rings of trees, boundary lines, and plant species.

Participants will walk (10–15 minutes) on a mowed grass path to the edge of the Hartley Wood area, located behind the Arboretum, and will stand for the duration of the session. Please note that there could be areas of uneven ground.

Instructor: Sanford “Sandy” Smith
Dr. Smith, the Arboretum’s interim director, is a teaching professor of forest resources and an extension specialist with Penn State Extension. His professional and academic expertise is in forestry and natural resources education programs for youth, adult volunteerism in conservation and environmental education, and forest stewardship education on private forestlands. 

Location: Meet in front of the Overlook Pavilion and walk across the field to the wooded area behind the Arboretum

1 hour

10:30 a.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

Insect Surveys in the Pollinator and Bird Garden
Join a researcher from the Center for Pollinator Research and learn about the cutting-edge work being done to explore the beneficial relationships between pollinators and plants.

Instructor: Codey Mathis
Codey is a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research, where she is currently deciphering plant-pollinator networks and their effectiveness as tools for conservation and management decisions.

Location: Observation Hive in the Pollinator and Bird Garden 

30 minutes

Stonework in the Gardens
Learn about the design and installation of some of the beautiful stonework that complements the Arboretum’s living collections.

Instructor: Phil Hawk
Phil is a native of central Pennsylvania and has been working as a stone mason since 1978. Among his many high-profile projects are the Nittany Lion Shrine renovation and the Penn State landmark sign near Beaver Stadium. 

Location: Fossil Floor in the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden 

30 minutes

11:00 a.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

Backyard Bocce
Enjoy the world’s oldest and second-most-widespread sport (behind soccer), a sport known to revive the body and mind. With simple rules and easy-to-learn skills, this is a great game for people of all ages. Unlike league bocce, you can play anywhere. 

Instructor: Judy Reed
Judy is a retired teacher who enjoys sharing her passions with others.

Location: Esplanade Lawn  

30 minutes

Before Paterno: From Pink and Black through the Purity Decades
Learn about the history of Penn State football from its official start in 1887 to 1949. It will include how the original Pink and Black uniforms transformed into the now famous blue and white uniforms with no names. Even today’s fans know little to nothing about the Purity Period of more than 20 years that turned Penn State into perennial losers.

Instructor: Lou Prato
Lou is a veteran print and broadcast journalist and college teacher dating back to 1961. He has covered Penn State football periodically since his undergraduate days at Penn State and is the author of seven books about the Nittany Lions. Lou helped start the Penn State All-Sports Museum, was its first director, and is now athletic department’s unofficial sports historian.

Location: Overlook Pavilion

1 hour

Pollinator Garden Tour
Enjoy a walking tour of the Pollinator and Bird Garden to learn about the importance of native plants and the critical role that native pollinators and birds play in our local ecosystem.

Instructor: Heather Desorcie
Heather is the Arboretum’s pollinator educator and an education specialist for Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research. Heather holds a master’s degree in education studies from the University at Buffalo and was previously facilitator of learning at the Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY. 

Location: Joel N. Myers Sundial 

1 hour

11:30 a.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

Insect Surveys in the Pollinator and Bird Garden
Join a researcher from the Center for Pollinator Research and learn about the cutting-edge work being done to explore the beneficial relationships between pollinators and plants.

Instructor: Codey Mathis
Codey is a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research, where she is currently deciphering plant-pollinator networks and their effectiveness as tools for conservation and management decisions.

Location: Observation Hive in the Pollinator and Bird Garden 

30 minutes

Bees in the Arboretum
Get up close and personal with the working honey bee hives in the Pollinator and Bird Garden.

Instructor: Kate Anton
Kate is a research beekeeper and laboratory manager in the Grozinger Lab and the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State. She manages more than 60 colonies of honey bees with a focus on honey bee queen rearing and breeding.

Location: Beehives in the orchard in the Pollinator and Bird Garden

30 minutes

Noon Start Time
Event Description Length

Stonework in the Gardens
Learn about the design and installation of some of the beautiful stonework that complements the Arboretum’s living collections.

Instructor: Phil Hawk
Phil is a native of central Pennsylvania and has been working as a stone mason since 1978. Among his many high-profile projects are the Nittany Lion Shrine renovation and the Penn State landmark sign near Beaver Stadium.

Location: Fossil Floor in the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden 

30 minutes

Backyard Bocce
Enjoy the world’s oldest and second-most-widespread sport (behind soccer), a sport known to revive the body and mind. With simple rules and easy-to-learn skills, this is a great game for people of all ages. Unlike league bocce, you can play anywhere. 

Instructor: Judy Reed
Judy is a retired teacher who enjoys sharing her passions with others.

Location: Event Lawn  

30 minutes

Writing a Poem: A Mini-Workshop
Get a few tips for writing a poem, followed by an opportunity to write one yourself and share it with your fellow attendees.

Instructor: Michael Bourgo
Mike is the co-leader of the OLLI Writers Special Interest Group and leads a local memoir group. He recently completed a memoir of his childhood. He is also an active poet.

Location: North Terrace 

30 minutes

Palmer Museum of Art Construction Site Preview
Learn about the design, construction, and future of the new Palmer Museum of Art.

Instructor: Shari Edelson
Shari is the Arboretum’s director of operations and is responsible for the development and care of the Arboretum’s plant collections and oversight of new garden planning and construction. She has played a critical role in planning for the Palmer Museum of Art’s move to the Arboretum.

Location: Overlook Pavilion 

1 hour

12:30 p.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

Joel N. Myers Sundial
Have you ever wondered how to use the sundial in the Arboretum? Join the Arboretum’s founding director and learn how to tell the time using this beautiful and functional installation.

Instructor: Kim Steiner
Dr. Kim Steiner is professor emeritus of forest biology and the founding director of The Arboretum at Penn State. 

Location: Joel N. Myers Sundial 

30 minutes

Bees in the Arboretum
Get up close and personal with the working honey bee hives in the Pollinator and Bird Garden.

Instructor: Kate Anton
Kate is a research beekeeper and laboratory manager in the Grozinger Lab and the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State. She manages more than 60 colonies of honey bees with a focus on honey bee queen rearing and breeding.

Location: Beehives in the orchard in the Pollinator and Bird Garden 

30 minutes

Exploring Nature with Children
Exploring and learning about nature is a wonderful intergenerational activity. Discover fun, simple ways to make the most of your next trip outdoors. (Please note: this session is intended for adults only.) 

Instructor: Jennifer Hooven
Jennifer is the Arboretum’s childhood education coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management with an option in environmental interpretation from Penn State.  For the past 15 years, she has worked in child care at Penn State as a preschool educator.

Location: Inside the entrance of the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden 

30 minutes

1:00 p.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

Biking Rails to Trails
Learn about local rail-to-trail opportunities and other non-road biking paths to enjoy safe biking nearby.

Instructor: Lynn Carpenter
Lynn is co-leader of the OLLI Biking Special Interest Group and has led numerous bike trips. She has also taught a variety of OLLI programs, from ethics in film to the Cold War. 

Location: North Terrace

30 minutes

The Lost Bird Project
Learn more about The Lost Bird Project, a series of sculptures by artist Todd McGrain that evokes bird species now extinct in North American due to human activity.

Instructor: Alex Suleski
Alex is a conservation interpreter at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.

Location: Carolina Parakeet statue in the Pollinator and Bird Garden

30 minutes

Pollinator Garden Tour
Enjoy a walking tour of the Pollinator and Bird Garden to learn about the importance of native plants and the critical role that native pollinators and birds play in our local ecosystem.

Instructor: Heather Desorcie
Heather is the Arboretum’s pollinator educator and an education specialist for Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research. Heather holds a master’s degree in education studies from the University at Buffalo and was previously facilitator of learning at the Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY. 

Location: Joel N. Myers Sundial 

1 hour

1:30 p.m. Start Time
Event Description Length

The History of the Palmer Museum of Art
As the Palmer Museum of Art prepares to move to its new home adjacent to the Arboretum, now is the perfect time to reflect on the rich history of this local cultural institution.

Instructor: Joyce Robinson
Joyce is the assistant director of Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art.

Location: Overlook Pavilion 

30 minutes

Qigong in the Gardens
Come and learn this simple, yet highly effective, exercise routine that helps promote wellness and creates a feeling of well-being. 

Instructor: JoAnne Reilly
JoAnne is a retired physical education, recreation, dance, and health teacher. She worked in the florist business as seasonal and summer help for several years. Eventually, she owned a floral shop in Connecticut. 

Location: Poplar Court

30 minutes

OLLI at University Park twenty-fifth anniversary, 1997 to 2022Help Grow the “O”

In honor our 25 years of service, we are seeking to raise $25,000. Your gift will contribute to and sustain OLLI’s current and long-term success. It will ensure our ability to continue to provide a selection of high-quality, up-to-date programs and keep annual dues and course fees low, thus ensuring our programming is accessible to all members of the community.

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