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CARBONDALE — The thirst for knowledge doesn’t end with retirement.

An organization — Southern Illinois Learning in Retirement — is open to people age 50 and older within driving distance of Carbondale, and offers a variety of activities to continue learning, according to organization member Bobbie Ogletree.

Activities typically include courses on a wide variety of topics for about two hours, once a week for five weeks. In addition to courses, the organization also offers a month book club, a monthly discussion group and a musical of the month interest group.

Beginning on March 20, the group will offer courses on Illinois history, U.S. and Soviet Union relations history, technology, and the impeachment process in political office.

“No homework and no tests — just the opportunity to learn more about topics of interest to you presented by other knowledgeable retirees,” Ogletree said in an email.

The group usually means on the third Wednesday of the month for an open program at Grace United Methodist Church, 220 Tower Road in Carbondale. The program starts with a social hour at 9:30 a.m., followed by a speaker at 10:30 a.m.

The next speaker — on March 20 — will be Ed Benyas, music director of the Southern Illinois Symphony and Professor of Oboe at Southern Illinois University, who will talk about the 14th Annual Southern Illinois Music Festival, Twos by Tews, which will run May 25 through June 10. On April 18, SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno will speak.

The organization was founded 1997 through the SIU Division of Continuing Education, Ogletree said.

“While there are learning in retirement groups affiliated with universities all over the county,” she said in an email, “SILIR is unique because it offers a monthly program open to the public.”

She said there is a $25 yearly membership fee and usually a $10 fee for select courses.

For more information, call Jackie Welch at 618-536-7751, email, or visit

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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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