OLLI Vice President

John Amdall

My wife Sharon and I have been in Peoria since 1974, and I retired from Caterpillar in 2011 with 37 years of service. Sharon told me about OLLI and I signed up for several Learning Trips, one Study Group, and OLLI Classes in 2011. My first impression of OLLI was WOW!! OLLI quickly became my first answer whenever someone asked me why we are staying in the Peoria area for retirement. 

After 8 years of being active OLLI members, we are still surprised at how many people have never heard of OLLI. Clearly, OLLI remains the “best kept secret” in Peoria and we need to continue to look for opportunities to let people know about OLLI and to become better known in the community. I am looking forward to working with the Continuing Education staff and the OLLI volunteers to make significant progress in the coming years. The new OLLI membership program and the new OLLI Originals should help to get the word out and reach new groups within the community. 

The two best parts of OLLI are the Continuing Education staff and the OLLI members. OLLI is all about learning in a social environment. The staff makes it very easy to be an OLLI volunteer or participant. The other OLLI members make every OLLI activity an exceptional, social, learning experience. For me, the definition of customer service is: the Continuing Education staff. 

I have had the pleasure of teaching several OLLI Classes and being the docent on several OLLI Learning Trips. This has given me the opportunity to “look behind the curtain” at how OLLI programming is created, managed, and executed. This has been another “WOW” OLLI experience. The staff makes it very easy to be an instructor or docent for OLLI. The best part about being an instructor or docent is that I learn much more than the OLLI participants. 

My closing comment at each of my recent OLLI Classes is to encourage the class participants to become an OLLI Instructor. All it takes is an interest in a specific topic and then taking the time to research the topic. The OLLI Class becomes the opportunity to share what I have learned and provides me with the motivation to continue to develop the topic. Since I have a diverse set of interests, this has resulted in diverse topics, including: Tree Pruning, History of the Future, Statistics, Home Computer Networks, and Sculptures. 

The OLLI Learning Trips are fabulous – especially the local trips that give us insight to local businesses, not-for-profits, and government entities that is really not available any other way – also the regional trips (because you do not have to drive!!). 

The OLLI Study Groups are great for a deeper dive into a subject of interest. 

We personally love the OLLI classes – and appreciate the fact that there is always an extra- special effort to welcome new people at classes by offering an information packet and a special dining table for meeting other new people. 

We are looking forward to participating in the new OLLI Originals. 

Looking to the future, as the demographics grow for the 50+ cohort, we can expect more people to attend OLLI... so the OLLI Leadership will have to put plans in place to deal with more people. This is a GREAT problem to have. 

Besides our involvement with OLLI, Sharon and I are actively trying to promote “Peoria as an Arts Destination,” and a variety of initiatives related to public art, especially sculpture. Also, I collect dwarf conifers (small pine trees) and spend time in my workshop creating sculptural, contemporary furniture. 

Peoria is so fortunate to have OLLI!!! It is wonderful for social interaction after retirement and for lifelong learning! High QUALITY, social INTERACTION, outstanding CUSTOMER SERVICE, and an opportunity for everyone to get INVOLVED and contribute!!!

OLLI is one of the key reasons that we decided to stay in the Peoria area after retiring from our careers at Caterpillar.