Located in Ashtabula County in Northeast Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie, the town of Geneva-on-the-Lake decided to start a program that would promote social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development in the community. The result: Geneva’s first Lifelong Learning Program.

The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake, managed by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, along with the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners, successfully piloted and launched a Lifelong Learning program in the fall of 2013.

Within a few months, the program was in full swing, offering a diverse array of tours, talks, and workshops; each providing educational opportunities for residents and lodge guests to learn more about Ashtabula County’s largely untapped wealth of culture, history, and natural areas.

Carl Feather, a tourism development employee of the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners, worked with The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake to develop the program.

On his blog, he writes; “I’ve always believed that there are many adults in Northeast Ohio who also enjoy learning, especially when there is no test at the end of the lecture…I am working with the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake to bring a Lifelong Learning program to not just adults of Ashtabula County, but also the many guests who visit the Lodge during the fall, winter and spring seasons…The long-term goal is to create a miniature Chautauqua experience at the Lodge once a week. Eventually, we’d like those afternoon sessions to evolve into Road Scholar programs.”

In the spring months, programs were offered on Wednesday afternoons and covered topics such as the Underground Railroad and Civil War in Ashtabula County, geology of Ashtabula County, Ashtabula Harbor, “Lost” covered bridges, and the history of Geneva-on-the-Lake as a resort town.

Throughout the summer, Tuesday Tours have departed from The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake and offered unique perspectives of the County’s past, present, and future via walking tours, photo safaris, and shuttle bus tours.  The Scenic River Pilgrimage, a full-day event featuring morning nature seminars, afternoon wildflower hikes, photography workshops, and an evening film screening was also offered in April.

Each program varied in length and cost, but averaged about four hours long and included snacks and refreshments.  The cost was free for lodging guests and only $10 per person/$15 per couple for non-lodging guests.

The Lifelong Learning program is presented in partnership with many credible organizations including the Ashtabula Marine Museum, Ashtabula County Soil and Water District, and Cleveland Museum of Natural History, as well as local photography experts, in order to provide unique learning opportunities of the highest quality for people of all ages.

Overall, these education programs were enthusiastically well-attended by guests and community members. The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake will continue to grow their Lifelong Learning program and offer a variety of learning opportunities so that participants may learn and appreciate the unique cultural and natural resources of the area.geneva bridge small

A sampling of the programs offered this year include:

  • Geology of Ashtabula County: Nathan Paskey of the Ashtabula County Soil and Water District office presents a fascinating overview of the county’s millions of years of geological history.  Afterward, a 2 ½ hour shuttle bus tour takes participants to see the county’s major geological features.
  • The Underground Railroad in Ashtabula County (A Two Part Series): This program explores the origins of the Underground Railroad and abolitionist fervor in Ashtabula County, including the boast that no fugitive slave was ever captured within its borders.  Participants learn about the stations along the local route and the men and women who took great risks to hide and guide the fugitive slaves.  A portion of the program is devoted to Joshua Giddings, the Congressman from Ashtabula County who pressed the slavery issue in Congress and pushed the nation toward war.  The second part of this series focuses on an exhibit dedicated to Joshua Giddings’ life.  Learners are able to visit museums in Ashtabula County that have collections pertaining to the Underground Railroad.
  • Spring Wildflower Workshop:  Jim Bissell, Curator of Botany for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, leads participants for a look at the region’s wildflowers.  Learners explore the woods of Geneva State Park and learn to identify plant species as well as the unique folklore and medicinal purposes behind many of them.
  • Autumn in Ashtabula County:  Participants learn the science behind leaves changing color, how to identify trees, take better landscape photos, and finish up the day with a  guided nature walk in the State Park.  The Lodge’s chef also presents a delicious dessert to send learners off on a sweet note.
  • Really Horrible Disasters. Real life can be more frightening than Halloween! Learn about the great disasters of Ashtabula County, including the Ashtabula bridge disaster and a documentary being produced about it.  A model of the bridge that collapsed, artifacts from the disaster site, and a trailer of the movie are shared