Lifetime Learners Institute

Who We Are

The Lifetime Learners Institute is sponsored by South Florida State College. It provides non-credit educational, short term sessions that fosters the exchange of ideas and experiences in a collegiate setting.

The LLI season begins January and ends in March allowing for both our year round and much welcomed snow friends an opportunity to attend. Sessions are held every Thursday with at least one field trip per month. Field trips provide a relaxed environment for adults to develop new interests and enjoy opportunities for personal growth and social interaction with like-minded people.

LLI is governed by a committee of peers that ensure the season’s schedule provides intellectually enriched sessions and cultural explorations. Our presenters volunteer from our membership, the community, and South Florida State College faculty and retirees.


Save by becoming a seasonal member for $99 and enjoy all of our sessions. In addition, seasonal members may bring one friend to one session during the 2017 program year – free of charge. Not sure of becoming a member? Not a problem, attendees may choose sessions of interest and pay as they go.

Jan. 12 (CRN 20365)

Session A: 9 a.m., Four Generations of Citrus / Jeff Williams, Williams Citrus Nursery, Owner

Jeff Williams will provide a first person account of the different aspects in which the recent changes of the citrus industry have affected his family owned company. Williams will share successes, citrus challenges, failures and citrus greening. His story will provide the audience with a different perspective on citrus owners and how they are united in keeping this “orange gem” the number one crop in Florida.

Session B: 11 a.m., The Untapped Potential of Caladiums / Robert D. Hartman, PhD, President, Manager, Classic Caladiums LLC

Dr. Hartman started exploring the untapped uses of the Caladium Plant and discovered that there is a lot of growth opportunity for this plant. What he discovered is amazing. New genetics enabled him to breed caladiums. Learn how he developed and has patents to 53 new plants.


Jan. 19 (CRN 20423)

Session A: 9 a.m., The Eyes are the Windows to Your…Health? /  Dr. Jessica Forde, OD, Optometric Physician

We’ve all heard that our eyes are the windows to our souls but did you know they are the windows to our health as well? Dr. Forde will update us on how our eyes tell a story of our health and share her knowledge on eye care, diseases, cures and corrections at this time of your life. Don’t sleep in because you won’t want to miss this informative session. SEE you there!

Session B: 11 a.m., Explore the Kissimmee River and Restoration / Loisa Kerwin, Director of Riverwood Field Lab

In the 1960’s the U.S. Army Corps of engineers channelized the Kissimmee River to provide flood protection for the greater Orlando populations. One of these canals, C-38 was an efficient drainage ditch, but it destroyed all the natural functions and the wildlife of the river. Learn the progress of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project and where it is today.



Jan. 26, 9 a.m. (CRN 20424) – Meet at the SFSC Auditorium

Session A and B: The Grit behind the Glamour / Cindy Garren, Director, Culture Programs

Ms. Garren’s high energy personality will keep you attentive as she shares backstage secrets and provides insight on the business of “show business,” from recruiting performers, developing the schedule of events and if lucky she may throw in a few secrets of the artists. Directly after our tour of the Alan Jay Wildstein Performing Arts building we will also journey through The Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC). No fee / Wear comfy shoes


Feb. 2, 9 – 11 a.m. (CRN 20425)

Sessions A and B: Avon Park Bombing Range / Charles Maclaughlin, Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel

Most everyone has heard about the “Bombing Range” in Avon Park, but what is it, and what takes place there? Join us for a “fact-filled” morning as we learn about the Military and Civilian Recreational uses of the “Bombing Range” as well as, its current uses and future potential. “AT EASE” as this session will allow for you to sit back and enjoy a piece of our local history.

Feb. 9 (CRN 20426)

Session A: 9 a.m., Highlands County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) / Mary Plankenhom, Advocacy Center Manager

Ms. Plankenhom’s passion for providing positive opportunities for families to thrive in our community along with her leadership at the CAC is the perfect match for us to learn about the Highlands County Children’s Advocacy Center’s Mission is and what services they offer children and parents of Highlands County.

Session B: 11 a.m., The Guardian ad Litem Program / Dawn Shinskey, Volunteer

Dawn found her purpose in life with the Guardian ad Litem Program and perhaps you too may find that “meaningful something” you’ve been craving lately. This program helps children in dependency court, as well as, offers great volunteering opportunities.


Feb. 16 (CRN 20427)

Session A: 9 a.m., Community Redevelopment Agency Sebring and Avon Park / Robin Hinote, Gaylin Thomas, CRA Members

Discussion will focus on the creation, history, mission and impact on both towns and how your taxes work for the benefit of these towns. Also, both speakers will discuss various CRA incentive programs.

Session B: 11 a.m., Tourism in the Highlands / Casey Wohl Hartt, Lead Marketing Consultant for Visit Highlands County

Learn what our county has to offer tourists, as well as, how tourism officials market and promote one of Florida’s best kept secrets, Highlands County.


Feb. 23, 9 a.m. (CRN 20428)

Sessions A & B: Field Trip-Peter Powell Roberts Museum of Art & Avon Park Depot Museum

Peter Powell Roberts was a Florida Master Artist. This past summer our county was honored with the opening of a museum exhibiting the largest collection of his paintings anywhere in the world. Join us after the tour for lunch as we step back in time and enjoy lunch and a tour of the Avon Park Depot Museum. ALL ABOARD! (Field Trip Lunch in the Railroad Dining Cart – $15)

March 2 (CRN 20430)

Session A: 9 a.m., Florida Peat Mining and Custom Soil Blending / Scott Kirouac, Owner Hillary Peat Company

The Hillary’s humble start in the peat business occurred around 1885 in Ireland. Grandpa Willie Hillary, then a lad, began cutting and drying peat. Learn about this family run business, where the business is today and how they got there.

Session B: 11 a.m., Cow Whips / Mike Hazellief, Cowboy Whip Master

Come out and join us as Mike Hazellief shares the detail that goes into the craftsmanship of each Cowboy Whip and the art of whip cracking. We will watch a live demonstration and for the more adventurous ones, you may have the opportunity to try your hand at making the whip CRACK.


March 9 (CRN 20433)

Session A: 9 a.m., Stretch a Little and Laugh ALOT…No Mat Needed / Dawn Pisarki, Certified Laughing Yoga Instructor

Laughter yoga is an exercise of intentional laughter, combined with a few simple yoga techniques which can be done by anyone, of any age standing or sitting. Laughter yoga helps to increase oxygen in the body and as a result, every cell in the body works more efficiently to improve physical, mental and social well-being. Laughter Yoga is an amusing way to promote positive health for all ages. LOL… (Laughing Out Loud)

Session B: 11 a.m., Still Clowning Around / Toby the Clown School, Lake Placid

Step right up to an informative session on how one man’s clowning revolution began over two decades ago in Highlands County. Keith “Toby” Stokes’ first graduating class had six clowns. Since 1993 his passion for smiles, love and laughter has continued to spread to thousands with a graduate roster of 1500 clowns. Bring your big hearts and huge smiles !


March 23,  9 a.m. (CRN 20434) – Meet at the SFSC Library parking lot at 9 a.m.

Session A and B: Highlands Hammock and CCC Museum Field Trip

Join us for an educational tour of the “Hammock”. We’ll follow the path started by Ranger Carol Beck in the 50’s. She was also the Biologist for the Florida Park Service. We’ll be taking a tram tour through a Cypress Swamp, virgin Hardward Hammock, Pine Flatwoods, Baygall, and Seepage Slope. See some of the critters and plants that we normally would not see.

Come ready sit back and relax as we are taken back in time by “The CCC Man” as he retells stories about his life in the Civilian Conservation Corps; learn where they worked, what they did and how they did it.


March 30, 9 a.m. (CRN 20435) – Meet at the Hotel Jacaranda at 9 a.m.

Session A: Avon Park, The City of Charm

Avon Park is more than just a visitor’s center and point of information on Main Street. We service our community in many facets, from economic and workforce development, marketing, events, business and government liaison, to partnering with our educational and other community involved organizations to educate our community on topics and promote continuing education opportunities for all ages.”

Session B: Out of Your Gourd/Jackie Andrews, The Artist Group Member

Explore one of the oldest and most versatile plants on earth and its use as an art medium.

LLI Closing Luncheon, Jacaranda Hotel (Lunch is on your own – (Meal, drink, tax, and gratuity $14)