OLLI Complimentary Programs

Open to the public

The summer term includes a variety of one-time lectures (Bonus Programs) that are free and open to OLLI members, guests, and the public.

Registration is not required for in-person Bonus Programs.

Registration is required (no cost) to access the Bonus Programs virtually through Zoom.

Register Online or call Registration Services (205) 348-3000 to enroll

For questions or more information call the OLLI Office at 205-348-6482




In-Person Tuscaloosa Bonus Programs are held at the Bryant Conference Center,

Address: 240 Paul W Bryant Dr, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Coordinator: Sandra Hall Ray, raysandrahall@gmail.com

Parking at University of Alabama

June 7 – TUS 151/OL151 From Horse Woman to Horse Whisperer – Laurie Brock 

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

Laurie Brock’s trip from an Alabama attorney to a Kentucky priest may be best described as a horse ride! Laurie will share “her experiences of love, grief, humility, joy, and deep wisdom that she discovers day to day with horses.” From mucking the stalls to long trail rides, the simple ways of horses can teach us so much. “This is what happens when a writer, preacher, and lover of words encounters some of creation’s wisest theologians… horses.” Come ride along with Laurie to hear of her experiences.


June 14 – TUS 152/OL152  Off the Interstates and Out of the City Limits – Maggie Johnston 

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

Wild Alabama’s mission is to inspire people to enjoy, value, and protect our state lands. From Bankhead Forest “corporate plundering” monitoring to a statewide initiative, WildAL.org has a mission to keep the lands for future generations. You will hear of efforts for wilderness stewardship, guided hikes, trail maintenance, and virtual learning. Director Maggie Johnston will tell us about the history and expectations for the future of this community effort.


June 21 – TUS 153/OL153  The Expanding Role of Computer Science in Alabama – Dr. Jeff Gray   

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

The top jobs in the state of Alabama all demand some form of computing skills. A decade ago, Alabama was near the bottom of the nation in preparing students for the jobs of the future. But just recently, Alabama has become one of the top states in providing core educational opportunities in the K-12 grades. This talk will summarize the importance of computing to our state’s economy and the efforts to bring new opportunities to the children in our state. Attendees of this talk will also learn information about the fundamental concepts of computing and how computational thinking surrounds all aspects of our daily lives with several hands-on examples.


June 28 – TUS 154/OL154  Yummy Dishes and Yucky Flops – Judging Food Competitions – Lois Palecek  

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

Lois Palecek and a group of colleagues are actual food competition judges…right here in our river city. We will learn how they became judges, the training required, the process from start to finish, and how to control your reactions to a really bad dish. With all of the cooking shows available, Lois will explain what a legitimate competition entails and the pluses and minuses of judging.


July 12 – TUS 155/OL155 BANNED BOOKS: Who, What, Where, When, How – Easty Lambert-Brown

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

Ever wonder what qualifies as a banned book? Different people react to the notion that any book should be banned, especially booksellers. We will discuss the current trends in banning books, how they have changed over the years and possible implications for future authors.


July 19 – TUS 156/OL156  Gramma’s Good Furniture in an IKEA World – Alan Taylor  

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

Downsizing! Rightsizing! Decluttering! Repurposing! “Slim” furniture! Regardless of what you call it, most of us, as we age, decide, or are required to reduce our spaces and furniture. Alan Taylor, now retired, has advised clients of all ages on furniture value, purchase, and placement. As one of us, he finds his knowledge use advising how to adjust to our reduced spaces especially dealing with “good” furniture that our younger heirs really don’t want. What to keep, how to decide, how to maintain, dealing with new open living areas with fewer walls. Share your questions and solutions as we discuss this evolution in our lives.


July 26 – TUS 157/OL157  “Hey, Ref, Are You Blind?” – Chip Shields   

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

For sports officials at any level, this is probably a very familiar question. Recently retired from 30 years of football officiating, 20 years at the NCAA level, Chip Shields has heard it all! He’s going to explain how he got into this avocation (he has a day job). We will hear about the skills/training needed; hours of film preparation; weekends away from family; weekly rules tests; much of which take place off the field. In preparation for the 2022 football season, join Chip as he talks with us about being a member of their team on the field.


Aug 2 – TUS 158/OL158  ACCR: 20+ Years in the Making – Kristi Thomson 

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM (in-person and online)

Reform of our 1901 state Constitution has been discussed for 20+ years (or, some may say, ever since it was originally passed) since it has 928 amendments and is 20 times longer than the U.S. Constitution. Alabama Citizens of Constitutional Reform (ACCR) is a community of Alabamians who are determined to see legislative change for the better in the state, starting with our Constitution. Kristi Thomson is the chair of the nonprofit, grassroots public interest group that has met to revise language and now presents it to the legislature for the results to be addressed. Kristi will share with us the Tuscaloosa birth of the organization and what the citizens hope to accomplish.


In-Person Gadsden Bonus Programs are held at the UA Gadsden Center

Address: 121 N 1st St, Gadsden, AL 35901

Coordinator: Shirley du Pont, slild01@aol.com

Parking: No cost


June 9 – GAD 151 Fun with Famous Alabamians – Stan Moss  

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

We will be looking at people who made Alabama a great place to live.  There will be an overflowing cast of your favorite figures in Alabama history.  The challenge is “Can you guess who?”.  Join us for the fun of discovering which Alabamians were the movers and shakers.


June 16 – GAD 152 Coosa Riverboats – John McFarland  

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

The first steamboat to ply the waters of the Coosa River was appropriately named the Coosa.  On July 4, 1845, that gallant little steamer, Captain James Lafferty commanding, came ‘round the bend below what is now Gadsden.  The Coosa had riverboats that were active in transporting Confederate soldiers, Yankee prisoners, and supplies of the South to the railroad in Rome.  Frequently a fiddler would be on board and would supply music as the graceful steamer made her way through the night, her bright lights reflecting in the water.  Riverboats were a large factor in the building of Rome and Gadsden and added much to the enrichment of the lives of both the young and the old.  Then, of course, there is that world-famous sailor!  John has all the details.


June 23 – GAD 153 Rollin’ on the River – John McFarland  

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

All aboard for John’s cruise along the rivers once dominated by the boats that carried cargo and passengers to all points north, south, east, and west.  He will discuss the history of the riverboat and provide historical tidbits including the important people and places that have become legendary in the annals of riverboat lore.


June 30 –  GAD 154 Search and Rescue –  Jeff Randall 

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Randall Search and Rescue is a regional search, rescue, and training organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Alabama and member unit of the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads. The team provides aid to sheriff’s offices and authorities having jurisdictions in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Teams are trained to operate for extended periods of time in remote wilderness, mountainous, high angle, subterranean, hazardous terrain, and other austere environments. Team members have extensive training and experience in wilderness land search, technical rope rescue, backcountry rescue, cave rescue, and search incident management. Join us as Jeff tells us all about the efforts of his teams as they are involved in search and rescue missions.


July 14 – GAD 155 Basics of Flower Arranging – Janice Knight  

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Elements and principles of floral design will be discussed in this class. Elements include color, form, light, line, pattern, size, and space. Principles include balance, contrast, dominance, proportion, rhythm, and scale. We will observe the basics of putting together a traditional design. If we have time, we will observe a creative design.


July 21 – GAD 156 How Does Your Garden Grow? – Eric Schavey 

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Soil improvement in its broadest sense is the alteration of any property of a soil to improve its performance.  One rule in garden training is to never walk in garden beds. Stepping on garden soil compacts it, which destroys beneficial soil organisms and their habitat.  Then there’s compost.  Compost is referred to by farmers as “black gold.”  What is compost and why do we need/use it?  Eric will give us tips on how to improve our soil, as well as inform us of the nuances for making a better planting area, whether it’s for vegetables or flowers.


July 28 – GAD 157 Fun with Language – Stan Moss  

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM

Language – how important is it in communication?  Is it all about grammar? Does our language clearly describe our intent and entertain our listener?  Or can language just be fun? Those wacky expressions, where did they come from?  Who made up that word/phrase? Language, the use of words, can indeed be fun and entertaining.  Join us for a different look at the way we communicate.



 Email OLLI

Phone:  (205) 348-6482