Programs and Events

2018 Summer Catalog of Programs and Events

High Country Lifelong Learners


Our speaker presentations, writing workshops, Lifelong Painters, and book talks are held at the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center, 132 Poplar Grove Connector in Boone. Please note room location and time. This year we have been given access to the upstairs conference room on Mondays and to the dining room on the ground level on Fridays.

Monday Movies at the Library (second Monday of the month) are held at the Watauga County Public Library, 140 Queen St., Boone.


LIFELONG PAINTERS WATERCOLOR STUDIO with local artist JoAnn Pippin meets weekly on Fridays from 10:00 to 3:30 at the Harrill Senior Center. No fee. Come any time during these hours to be inspired by local artists who are wild about watercolor. Bring your paints and maybe your lunch. For more information, contact JoAnn Pippin at



Nature Walks by Bill Dunson, retired Prof of Biology, the 3rd Saturday of each month.   And:

Birding Walks with Sheryl McNair, three Tuesday mornings in June at Trout Lake.

Read Ahead Group Novel:  The one group novel for the summer is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Dr. James Ivory, ASU English Deptwill be with us on June 25 as we look at this novel by the author who won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature for characters  “who uncover the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”  Read ahead if you can – or after the discussion. The summary is available on


Monday, June 4: The Shroud of Turin, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. The subject of the most-studied religious relic in history is presented by Nancy Henry, with a review of controversies and the latest scientific interpretations. Nancy has collaborated with her brother, who has written a book and many articles on the subject.

Tuesday, June 5: Birding Walk, 7:30am, Trout Lake. For beginning birders and experts alike. Meet at the upper parking lot for Trout Lake, off Shulls Mill Road, at 7:30 a.m. If there is hard rain, the trip will NOT take place, but we’ll go in light rain or drizzle. Bring binoculars, if you have them, and eyes and ears. We will walk around the lake (approximately 1 mile), looking and listening to the local birds. The terrain is fairly flat, but due to possible wet & muddy conditions, sturdy footwear is recommended.  The pace is fairly slow, so consider whether you might need a jacket or sweater. You may want to bring water–trip will last approximately 2 hours. Sheryl McNair is our leader (phone 443-306-9933 or email She has been birdwatching since 1974, and has a life list of over 1,000 birds from birding locally, and in other countries.

Tuesday, June 5: Chili from Top to Bottom, 2:00pm, classroom 3. World traveler Diana Mast White will lead us on a trip to Chile, from the desert in the north to the fjords in the south.

Wednesday, June 6, Writing Workshop, 12:00-2:00pm, classroom 3. Sue Spirit returns with valuable writing workshops in June and August. Do you love to write? Come and join our small, friendly group. We do a lot of quick writing from prompts, share what we’ve written, and talk about our writing dreams. Bring a drink, sack lunch, and writing materials. Workshops dates: June 6, 13, 20, 27 and August 22, 29.

Friday, June 8, Tunisian Voyage, 2:00pm, dining room. Ella Fitzgerald and Gillespie sing of a “Night in Tunisia”. We have this afternoon to embark on a voyage to the North African French and Arabic-speaking country of Tunisia. We will share stories, flavors, songs and poetry from Tunisia about its history, culture, people and their accomplishments and hopes as the democratic peaceful dreams of Mother Tunisia unfold on the world stage driven by the will of the Tunisian people. Saloua Ben Zahra is our presenter.

Monday, June 11, Monday at the Movies: Arrival (2016), 2:00-4:30pm, Watauga Library. When 12 mysterious space crafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind. Nominated for Best Picture. We will have the popcorn. Please bring a seat cushion and drink if you like.

Tuesday, June 12: Birding Walk, 7:30am, Trout Lake. See description from June 5.

Friday, June 15: What Horses Can Teach Us About Being Better People, 2:00pm, dining room. Presenter is Amy Hudnall, president of Horse Helpers of the High Country. Amy is a horse rescuer and genocide scholar. She has found that by evaluating the meaning of a horse’s response to us, we better learn how our actions are perceived by other people. Improving our communication skills. This knowledge reduces risks of intractable conflict, develops tolerance for cultural and linguistic differences, enhances empathy and more. In sum, in her attempt to find methods to reduce violent conflict, she has found horses to be a dramatic, unexpected and de-centering way to teach how to rediscover and enrich our individual humanity.

Saturday, June 16: Jeffress Park Nature Walk: “Birds, Bugs, and Blooms,” 9:00-11:00am. Bill Dunson is a retired biology professor from Penn State University and he will be leading a once a month nature walk at various locations on the third Saturday of the month. It takes place rain or shine. Binoculars are optional.  As we walk we will talk about all aspects of nature, plants and animals.  Today’s walk will be in Jeffress Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway Saturday. We will hike an approximately 1.6 mile section of the Mountain to Sea Trail from the southern boundary of Jeffress Park to the Tomkins Knob overlook. This trail has a firm surface with few rocks and a moderate incline at the start. We will meet 2.1 miles north of the intersection of US 421 and the Parkway; there is a Jeffress Park sign on the east side- pull over there into the grassy meadow. There will be a shuttle to bring the drivers back to the start. For further information contact Bill Dunson, 276-233-6364 cell or text, or email    Or visit his nature blog:

Monday, June 18: Learn About Hospitality House, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Todd Carter, Director of Development, will discuss this regional nonprofit transitional living facility and crisis assistance resource center, serving seven rural North Carolina counties providing housing, homeless prevention and hunger relief. Todd will speak about the ever-evolving mission of the agency and address the stigma surrounding homelessness, poverty and hunger. He will also provide a rundown of the unique programs and myriad services available to individuals and families; as well as speak to the many ways that the community can get involved and put their passion into action.

Tuesday, June 19: Birding Walk, 7:30am, Trout Lake. See description from June 5.

Friday, June 22: Partisan Gerrymandering, 2:00pm, dining room. Prof William Hicks will discuss how political scientists use various methods of measurement, giving examples of current state maps, and also talk about recent litigation on partisan gerrymandering in the federal courts.

Monday, June 25: The Remains of the Day, a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Our presenter for this discussion, is Dr. James Ivory, ASU English Department.  In the novel Stevens, an English butler, tells his story of thirty-four years of service to the owners of Darlington Hall.  (Perhaps  Stevens is an influence on the newer story of Carson at Downton Abbey.)  As Stevens tells his story in l956, Lord Darlington has died; Stevens now works for the new owner Mr Farraday.  A former housekeeper, Miss Kenton, writes a letter to Stevens, sparking an interest in visiting with her.  On a short trip across England, Stevens remembers his years, people he has known, decisions made, and triumphs as well as regrets. Ishiguro won the Booker Prize in l989 for The Remains of the Day.  He won the Nobel Prize in 2017 as a writer “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”


Monday, July 2: The Global Peace-building Project at Appstate: A Diversity Project Inspired by a UN Initiative, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Dr. Martin Schoenhals returns with a presentation that describes a new and exciting initiative at Appalachian State University, the Global Peacebuilding Project. The GPP has awarded prize money in a university-wide competition so that winning students can carry out their own creative and original ideas to combat various forms of intolerance here in Boone or in nearby locales. The GPP is inspired by a larger United Nations youth competition for which Prof Schoenhals was the project manager in 2015 and the goal is to connect App State students working on diversity with their peers from around the world, culminating in a student forum to be held at App next spring.

The GPP is novel in that students are asked not just to study injustice but to design their own plans to do something about social ills, and their work is truly inspiring. Learning by working outside the classroom and by participating in social change are important dimensions of the Project, a timely one in the wake of the tragic events unfolding last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Monday, July 9: Monday at the Movies: Hacksaw Ridge (2016), 2:00-4:30pm, Watauga Library. The true story of Desmond T Doss, the conscious objector who won the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery and regard for his fellow soldiers at the Battle of Okinawa. Nominated for Best Picture. We will have the popcorn. Please bring a seat cushion and drink if you like.

Monday, July 16: Flora of the Blue Ridge Parkway, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Bob Cantu returns with a beautiful slide show on our local mountain flora. Which plants have medicinal properties? What was the role of Native Americans in teaching us about these properties? What are the erosive and climatic forces shaping evolutionary change in these plants? Why are so many different plant and tree species starting to die out and what can naturalists, biologists and scientists do to diminish those critical problems?
Bob Cantu is a naturalist for the Blue Ridge Hiking Club, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship and Grandfather Mountain Parks & Recreation. Bring your questions for Bob!

Friday, July 20: Edible and Medicinal Plants of SW Florida, 2:00pm, dining room. Retired Biology Prof Bill Dunson will present a powerpoint-illustrated discussion of the potential uses of some commonly encountered plants as food and medicine. Few people realize that most plants contain toxic chemicals to protect themselves against herbivores. Anyone planning to consume wild plants or to use them as folk medicine must be prepared to carefully evaluate the possible dangers or suffer the consequences. We will start by learning the common families of plants and examples of each that pose the greatest hazards.

Please note that Bill will be leading a nature identification walk tomorrow morning at Trout Lake beginning at 9:00am.

Saturday, July 21, 9:00-11:00am, Nature Walk: “Birds, Bugs, and Blooms.” Today’s location:  Cascades Trail and part of the MST loop walk.  An email will be sent out a week before today’s walk with more specifics.  Our guide Bill Dunson is a retired biology professor from Penn State University and he has been leading a once a month nature walk at varying locations every Saturday from 9-11 am. It takes place rain or shine. Binoculars are optional.   As we walk we will talk about all aspects of nature, plants and animals.  Any questions contact him at or 276-233-6364 cell/text.  Or visit his nature blog:


Monday, July 23: Has America Lost Its Heart and Soul? Reflections on Wendell Berry, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Tommy Brown returns to discuss the book, “The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings.” In his most recent book, Berry writes more clearly than ever that America has lost its soul and much of its heart over the past century as this and other western nations have sacrificed local agrarian economies for multi-national industrial agricultural. Berry suggests that many of the symptoms of our broken and dysfunctional nation are rooted in the bargain made in the late 1940’s when farmers and farm communities were told that they must ‘get big or go away’. As Tommy Brown prepares to lead a Sustainable Development Practicum in Food Security he will share what he has discovered in Berry’s writings and the movements to recover America’s locally sourced heart and soul.


Friday, July 27: Why Some Political Scandals End Careers and Others Do Not, 2:00pm, dining room. The media and public pay particular attention when politicians are embroiled in political scandals. Some political scandals put politicians at risk, but at the same time, some factors appear to insulate candidates from the adverse effects of scandals. This discussion will attempt to reconcile why some politicians seem somewhat immune to scandals, while others have their careers abruptly ended because of them. Come and hear Prof Adam Newmark, of the Political Science Dept. at Appalachian Sate University, sort it all out.


Monday, July 30, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Join June Mann for “Book Talk.” This is a time to sit around the table and share our summer reading experiences. The more the merrier. See you there.



Monday, August 6, The Conspiracy that Led to the Assassination of President Lincoln, A Familial Perspective, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. L.B. Gallien, Jr. came to ASU as Dean of the Reich College of Education in 2013. He is the sole residential professor in The Honors College where he directs the new Southern Studies Program that he engineered two years ago. His father’s family resided on Roan Mountain and his wife’s father’s family resided in Yadkin Valley.  Dr. Gallien’s great great grandfather was Dr Samuel Mudd, an alleged co-conspirator in the Lincoln assassination and his cousin recently finished a book titled “The Assasins Doctor.” Dr. Gallien will explore the conspiracy that led to Lincoln’s assassination.


Monday, August 13, Monday at the Movies: Philomena (2013), 2:00-4:30pm.   A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in an Irish convent. Along the way, they both discover as much about each other as about her son’s fate.
Starring: Judi Dench
We will have the popcorn. Please bring a seat cushion and drink if you like.


Saturday, August 18, 9:00-11:00am, Nature Walk: “Birds, Bugs, and Blooms.” Today’s location:  Logging road out and back. An email will be sent out a week before today’s walk with more specifics.  Our guide Bill Dunson is a retired biology professor from Penn State University and he has been leading a once a month nature walk at varying locations every Saturday from 9-11 am. It takes place rain or shine. Binoculars are optional.   As we walk we will talk about all aspects of nature, plants and animals.  Any questions contact him at or 276-233-6364 cell/text.  Or visit his nature blog:


Monday, August 20, The Prophet Amos Part 1, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room.  “They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals” Amos 2:6

Prof Alan Hauser returns to discuss the great prophet Amos, who spoke to the Kingdom of Israel only a few decades before it was destroyed in 721 BCE, would have a great deal to say to us today. A simple shepherd from the Judean village of Tekoa, Amos watched as the boom times under King Jeroboam II rewarded the wealthy and powerful, while abusing the poor, the hungry, and the needy. Caustic, indeed vitriolic in his criticism of the well-heeled and powerful, Amos took aim at corrupt, often vicious practices and abuse by kings, priests, and merchants, warning of times when all would be punished by Israel’s God. What might Amos say today to a society engulfed in corporate greed and massive favors for the wealthy, even as it turns a deaf ear to the hungry, sick, homeless, unemployed, refugees, and feeble persons in our midst? Amos might find that little had changed between his age and ours, and his words would likely be sharp and biting.


Wednesday, August 22, Writing Workshop led by Sue Spirit, 12:00-2:00pm, classroom 3. This class repeats next Wednesday, Aug 29. See description from June 6.


Friday, August 24, Birds and Other Animals of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, 2:00pm, dining room. We welcome back retired Biology Prof Bill Dunson who will give a power point presentation of a visit to Anchorage and then to the Kenai Peninsula, including Homer and Seward, to study the birds and other animals and their natural environment. This included boat trips to glacial bays and to seabird islands. The natural wonders of this remarkable coastal area will be discussed.


Monday, August 27, The Prophet Amos, Part 2, 2:00pm, 2nd floor conference room. Prof Alan Hauser, Dept of Biblical Studies, continues his presentation on the Prophet Amos. See a detailed description from Aug. 20.

The following organizations offer programs that members of High Country Lifelong Learners enjoy:

Lois E. Harrill Senior Center –

Blue Ridge Hiking Club –

Watauga County Public Library –

High Country Audubon Society –

Watauga County Arts Council –

Blowing Rock Art and History Museum (BRAHM) –

Mountain Friends –

Blue Ridge Chapter Native Plant Society –