Programs Expand Horizons for Baby Boomers

Local programs encourage baby boomers to learn and grow.
Maggie is a volunteer at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Learn a language, paint a picture, become an expert in something and give back to your community; all the things you always said you’d do someday when you had the time. If that day has arrived, do you find yourself in a bit of rut? Maybe you should look around for something to expand your horizons. There are some pretty amazing educational opportunities in Saint Paul: from architecture and studying wild animals to drawing and psychology classes, you can find something to capture your imagination and shake things up a bit. Here are a few ideas to get you started:


The University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education program LearningLife offers classes in philosophy and history and science, but also subjects like the history of baseball or an overview of California wine regions. Some are three sessions, some are seminars, some are one-day immersions that may involve field trips to better the topic. Tuition for seminars is generally $50; multi-class series range from $85 to $220 and beyond, depending on the topic, and scholarships are available. Most of the classes are taught by professors from the U and other area colleges; some are taught by community experts.

The Fall Sampler is scheduled for September 15 and it’s free; just call ahead to let them know you’re coming. It will feature three instructors giving you a taste of three topics, in this case, Minnesota architecture, the psychology of suicide, and the books of Marilynne Robinson.

Typical fall and winter catalogs include classes in science and literature, social studies and history and an emphasis on Minnesota-specific topics, like Larry Millet’s two-session course on outstanding Minnesota homes. 612.624.4000;

Art Academy

Founder and director Jim Robinson says, “The Art Academy was founded on a simple yet revolutionary philosophy: “We believe that with time, encouragement and the proper instruction, anyone can learn to draw and paint exceptionally well.” There are classes for adults that encourage you to start where you are and advance your skills in the areas you prefer. Robinson says there is something exciting about knowing that you are creating something that will last. “The real thrill is contemplating that the painting some student has just completed will be around to grace and inspire future generations,” he says. Bottom line: Robinson really wants you to know that you can do this, do it well and enjoy it.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

The volunteers who work at the zoo and conservatory are called “interpreters” because they help visitors better understand the plants and animals. Interpreters are offered ongoing training to help them become experts in all the zoo and conservatory have to offer. Volunteer information 651.487.8252;