Special Events

The Action You Take, The Difference You Make

Academy of Lifelong Learning Special Program Series
Pre-register for each program by clicking the green button below each program title.


Climate Change and Its Effect on Central Illinois: An Overview

Presented by Illinois State Climatologist, Trent Ford, Ph.D.
Jan. 19, 2022, 5:30-7 p.m.

The Academy of Lifelong Learning at LLCC is sponsoring a four part series titled "The Action You Take, The Difference You Make" with the first program scheduled Jan. 19. Subsequent programs will focus on the impact of climate changes soil (Earth, Feb. 16), energy production (Wind, March 16), and hydropower and resources (Water, April 20). Programs may be presented virtually, in-person at LLCC or a combination of both. Check our webpage frequently for details. 

Hydroclimatologist, Dr. Ford has been the state climatologist since 2019. He says “Overall, Illinois’ climate has gotten warmer and wetter since the start of the 20th Century, according to high quality climate monitoring data from the NOAA Centers for Environmental Information.” He also conducts research on the climate system and extreme climate events, like drought and heat waves, monitors current conditions and studies climate change. A native of Roanoke, Illinois, Ford earned a bachelor's degree in geography from Illinois State University before completing his master's degree and Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. Before joining the Illinois State Water Survey, Ford was an assistant professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Resources at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

On Jan. 19, 2022, 5:30-7 p.m., Dr. Ford will present a Zoom webinar titled "Overview of Climate Change and Its Effect on Central Illinois." Ryan Cadagin, Judge of the 7th Circuit Court and self-proclaimed “Tree Hugger,” will host this webinar event.

This program series is free and open to the public. Following the presentation, questions from the audience will be taken as time allows. 


Climate Change and Its Effect on Central Illinois: The Earth

Pre-register for "The Earth"

Feb. 16, 2022, 5:30-7 p.m. (webinar presentation)

In the middle of the country there is a heart-shaped portion of land that stretches from Chicago to Cheyenne and from Fargo to Wichita. The Heartland makes up only 15 percent of the land area of the United States, but it is home to more than half of its farm fields. Central Illinois is close to the middle of it. 

Plants get the water and nutrients they need to survive and grow from the soil beneath them, a complex and unique mixture of decayed life and degraded rock. Soil management experts will discuss the impact of climate change on farming, such as the relationship between soil erosion and carbon as well as innovations in land management that work against climate change.

Panelists for this presentation include Samantha Reif, geology professor, LLCC; Ashley Curran, grant manager, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts; and Lauren Lirkins, director of environmental policy, Illinois Farm Bureau. The moderator is Karen Ackerman Witter, former associate director, Illinois State Museum, author and writer for the Illinois Times.

This program series is free and open to the public. Following the presentation, questions from the audience will be taken as time allows.


Climate Change and Its Effect on Central Illinois: Wind and Air

Pre-register for "Wind and Air"

March 16, 2022, 5:30-7 p.m. (webinar presentation)

The pressed, cooked and cracked remains of plants and animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago and can be burned as fuel — coal, oil and gas — are known as nonrenewable fossil fuels. For the last several decades, geology science has been largely devoted to locating and mapping rocks that contain proven reserves of oil and natural gas, estimated at about a 50-year supply. Coal would take about 150 years to burn through at the current rate of use. 

Fossil fuel use has become a lot cleaner over the last few decades due to big steps taken to scrub the lead and sulfur out of the emissions produced during burning them. But the biggest pollutant coming from our power plants and vehicles is a gas that you can’t see or smell — carbon dioxide. For human society to outlast these finite resources it would seem that a move away from fossil fuels is a step in the right direction and one that can’t happen too soon.

Panelists include Kevin C. O’Brien, Ph.D., director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at UIUC and principal investigator overseeing the CWLP carbon capture and storage project, and Michelle Knox, founder and owner of WindSolarUSA and certified site assessor for solar photovoltaics and solar thermal projects. Program moderator is John Stremsterfer, president and CEO, Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and Next10.org.

This program series is free and open to the public. Following the presentation, questions from the audience will be taken as time allows.


Climate Change and Its Effect on Central Illinois: The Water

Pre-register for "The Water"

April 20, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

The glaciers are melting. Water is seeping into the Smithsonian. River beds in some Western states are drying up. Illinois has gotten warmer and wetter in the last couple of decades. This program looks closely at the lakes, rivers, streams, aquifers and wetlands that move, store and filter Illinois water. Panelists include Wes Cattoor, P.E., CFM, section chief, engineering studies at Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Dr. Jim Angel, climatologist at Illinois State Water Survey, former Illinois state climatologist (1997-2018); and Laura L. Keefer, M.S., PH, Illinois state hydrologist, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.