Retired Gardener "Grows" at COTC's Lifelong Learning Institute

​​​NEWARK, Ohio, January 20, 2016 – 78-year-old Barbara Williams spent her career enri​ching the hearts and minds of others by using her horticulture expertise to design and grow gardens. Now, she’s spending her retirement enriching her own heart and mind through Central Ohio Technical College’s (COTC) Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI). LLI offers courses for senior citizens in central Ohio. Williams lives in a retirement community in Columbus and learned about LLI through a friend there.

“I saw the listing of classes offered by LLI, and they were things I was very interested in learning about,” said Williams. “I love music and history classes because they are outside of my own academic field, and they are things I’ve been interested in my whole life.” ​Williams has a master’s degree in Landscape Construction and Horticulture from The Ohio State University. She developed her love of horticulture as a child.

Williams_Barbara_lr.jpg“We moved to a new house in the country when I was 11, and I joined a Girl Scout troop. I loved the place we went camping,” said Williams. “Our troop leader was a wonderful plants-woman who taught us about all of the plants we saw in those woods. The love of plants that I learned from her and more specifically the love of plant taxonomy led to my second career when I went back to grad school and then taught horticulture. I have loved teaching others the common and botanical names of the many plants in our landscapes and our herb gardens. I’ve written academic journal articles and popular articles. I’ve taught university stu​dents, horticultural professionals, future Master Gardeners and the general public. All because of Edna Meng and the love of plants I learned from her in the magical place where she took us camping when I was a girl.”

During her horticulture career, Williams was recruited to design a public herb garden in Grove City. She eventually became the city’s garden director. She got to share her love of plants and gardening with others by educating volunteers and the public. Now, through the Lifelong Learning Institute, Williams is being educated by others about the things they love, and it’s an experience she wouldn’t trade for anything. “If you’re not involved, or learning something new, you are going backwards,” said Williams. “I’ve learned so much at LLI and made so many wonderful friends. It’s been an enlightening experience.”

The 2016 LLI spring course catalog, available now, is filled with courses and programs ranging from Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery, Lake Erie Critical Issues, and Pilot Dog Training Process; to Veterinary Medicine & Pet Therapy, Medicinal Herb Growth, and Internet Shopping and Cyber Security. The classes often range from between forty to seventy participants in each session.

First time guests of the Lifelong Learning Institute are invited to participate for free during their first session. Refreshments are offered at no cost. 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.