COTC’s Lifelong Learning Institute Exposes Central Ohio Senior Citizens To the Story behind Daily News Headlines

NEWARK, Ohio, January 7​, 2016 – Robert and Carolyn Wulfhorst of Pataskala have dedicated their lives to learning. Carolyn has a doctorate degree in education and is an avid bird watcher – a self-proclaimed "bird nerd."  Robert is retired from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.   After retirement, the two wanted to make sure they kept their minds sharp and kept up to date on what was going on in the world around them. That's why they got involved in the Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) of Central Ohio Technical College (COTC).

"When I retired, I did some volunteering at Dawes Arboretum, but I was looking for more," said Carolyn Wulfhorst. "I needed something more to do."

The Lifelong Learning Institute is based out of the Pataskala campus of COTC and serves the needs of the central Ohio senior population. There is programming for the Newark-centric community as well, held in the Reese Center on the Newark Campus of COTC and OSU.

The LLI provides educational opportunities for mature learners – or as they often prefer to be called - "the intellectually curious."  It's a membership-driven program that follows the COTC academic year and ensures that learning is not just cerebral in nature, but that it's also fun.  Menus of course options are offered year-round, plus LLI offers a film study series called ElderQuest, as well as technology workshops, book discussions, field trips, and interactive Coffee & Conversation programs.​

"LLI recently held a series of courses about the Muslim faith and the Middle East," said Carolyn Wulfhorst. "We all see things in the news, but we have no idea about the background. I think LLI is a great way to explore things you never would have thought to learn about otherwise."

Carolyn is a faculty emeritus from Central Ohio Technical College where she was a professor and an administrator. She learned about COTC's Lifelong Learning Institute and thought it was exactly what she was looking for.

"I am a lifelong learner. I am always looking for another course to take and more information to learn," said Carolyn Wulfhorst. "My husband is the same way. We were looking for something to do together.  Bob is a history buff and I'm a nature nut.  What COTC's Lifelong Learning Institute has to offer is something for both of us. There are such great people who attend the courses," said Carolyn Wulfhorst. "There are always refreshments and time for social connections."

The LLI membership is made up of a diverse group with vast experience and a variety of cultural backgrounds, as well as a wide range of interests. The one thing they seem to have in common is an eagerness to learn and gain new perspective.  The programming, field trips, courses through the Lifelong Learning Institute at COTC are selected by the membership, and they are non-college-credit courses that are offered on a one-time basis.

"The members, the staff, and the instructors genuinely care about the senior population and their pursuit of personal development and growth." explains Director of Central Ohio Technical College's Workforce Development Innovation Center and Lifelong Learning Institute Vicki Maple.  "We have created a fun educational environment that provides social enrichment among outstanding individuals with interesting topics supported by innovation and new ideas. It's an exciting program!"

The new semester introduces the 2016 LLI Spring Course Catalog with unique courses and interesting programs ranging from the Pilot Dog Training Process, Medicinal Herb Growth, and Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery… to Internet Shopping & Cyber Security, Lake Erie Critical Issues, and Veterinary Medicine & Pet Therapy.

The first course in the new semester is called "Food for Thought: the Science & Myths behind Your Food." It takes place on Fridays, January 8, 15, 22, and 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the COTC Pataskala Campus, located at 8660 E. Broad St., Reynoldsburg, OH. 

LLI Course Catalogs are available at no cost, and participants may attend their first LLI course for free.  For those wishing to become members, there is an annual membership fee of just $90, or for Licking County residents over the age of 60, there is a 50% savings of $45, thanks to the Licking County Senior Levy grant.  The 2015-2016 annual membership fee covers all courses offered now through August 2016. Members may choose as many or as few of the programs and courses as they wish to experience, and they're all covered in the annual membership fee.

"Never stop learning because life never stops teaching," Maple concluded. "That's our mantra at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Central Ohio Technical College!"

To learn more about the Lifelong Learning Institute at COTC, contact Vicki Maple, Director, at phone 740-364-9565, or email  Information is also available online at

Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential.  COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.

Photos: Top, Carolyn Wulfhorst; b​ottom, Robert Wulfhorst