The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Lifelong Learning teaches power of nature

Audra Gullquist
Visitors at Whiteside Garden in Charleston, Ill. on Monday, Aug. 28.

Eastern’s Academy of Lifelong Learning gathered at Whiteside Garden in Charleston on Aug. 28 to host the first of their series of nature journaling events.

Douglas-Hart Nature Center in Mattoon has partnered with the Academy of Lifelong Learning to make these events possible. They have planned four nature journaling events, all of which take place from 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Whiteside Garden, which is owned by Douglas- Hart, on the last Monday of the month, from Aug. 28- Nov. 27.

Their first session had a participation fee of $20, which covers the cost of all needed materials, such as a journal, colored pencils and a pencil sharpener. With a limit of 10 participants, nine arrived at the event to learn the basics of nature journaling.

During the event, Keegan Payne, environmental educator at Douglas-Hart Nature Center, gave the group prompts as to what to journal and then gave them 15 minute intervals to explore the garden and journal as they will. After each interval, the group would come back together and discuss their findings.

In addition to the Nature Journaling series, Payne will also be teaching a monarch tagging lesson on Sept. 10 with Sarah Easter at the Douglas-Hart Nature Center. She also plans to host a photography series some time this fall, taught by Greg Cooper, a photojournalism professor at Eastern.

Payne found that having the events out in nature provides the opportunity for participants to experience the power of nature. She hopes to host another nature journaling event during the spring 2024 semester.

“I hope to continue it because I think that the garden offers a lot of really cool inspiration for this type of thing. It’s a really beautiful place,” Payne said.

Payne emphasized that the Whiteside Garden is open daily to the public from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. and the trails are open until dusk. She encouraged anyone wanting to check out the Garden, to stop by and spend some time in nature.

The Academy of Lifelong Learning offers a broad range of activities, events, clubs and seminars to the community. On Aug. 18, the Academy held a weenie roast at the Morton Park Pavilion to kick off the school year, as they are ran through Eastern’s school of extended learning. They have also held their first meeting for their Board Game Club, which meets each week to play a new board game together.

Academy Coordinator, Daniel Douglas, stated that the Academy offers free and low-cost learning opportunities for people in the community. The Academy partners with many different organizations and people in order to provide these events.

Douglas summarized the Academy by stating that “The Academy is kind of a utility to bring those educational opportunities all in one place.”

The Academy is preparing for several upcoming events, such as Dr. Aaron Lawler’s seminar on Illinois novelists on Oct. 9 in Lumpkin Hall, room 2030. Lawler will be discussing how Ray Bradbury and other Authors from Illinois can help us answer philosophical questions such as who we are and why we are here.

On Nov. 6, a symposium on the truth about cannabis will be held in Buzzard Hall, room 1501. Six Professors will be speaking alongside State’s Attorney Jesse Danley during the event.

“It’ll be an opportunity for community members to ask questions about it and get answers from people that are actual experts. I think everybody in there other than the State’s Attorney has a PhD. So it’ll be an opportunity for them to give their disciplines perspectives on it, and it’ll be an opportunity for them to address each other,” Douglas mentioned.

To join the Academy’s goal of community education, check out their events in the Fall 2023 Community Program Guide.

Audra Gullquist can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Audra Gullquist
Audra Gullquist, Assistant News Editor
Audra Gullquist is a junior journalism major. She previously served as editor-in-chief at The Navigator.

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