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NCCC'S LIFELONG LEARNING CLASSES GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO EXPAND HORIZONS

Would a course on "Partners Shiatsu" pique your interest?

Ever entertained the notion of "Equine Sport Massage?"

Think you'd get a kick out of "Aerobic Kickboxing?"

Niagara County Community College is offering these and a number of other offbeat non-credit courses this fall through its Division of Lifelong Learning.

A sample of courses -- often offered in one-session segments -- also includes: "Rehabilitating Wildlife," "Feng Shui Interior Design," and a trip called the "Three Canyon Adventure," a first at the community college.

A free orientation meeting for the "Three Canyon Adventure" will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 on the NCCC campus to outline plans to visit the Bryce, Zion and Grand canyons next spring.

The course description states, "This powerful trip will bewitch and bedazzle you as you journey through starkly beautiful desert, cool pine forests, wildflower-dotted meadows and high plateaus."

Margaret Howe, director of NCCC's Office of Community Education for 12 years, is leading the "Three Canyon Adventure" herself.

"Three years ago, I went on an adventure to several national parks in New Mexico with my friend, Edie Pett, and we camped out and it was so serene, so beautiful, that I wanted to do it again," Ms. Howe said.

So Ms. Howe will travel to the Southwest this fall to plan the course trip for next spring, gathering brochures and rates so that the group that convenes for the NCCC trip will "put it together cooperatively."

"I don't want to make this too expensive, or people can't do it," she said, adding that she figures the final tally will be about $600 to $1,000 per person for 10 days, depending on the level of comfort the group requires in its accommodations.

"I gained a tremendous respect for Mother Nature when I went out West," she recalled. "It was something in my heart that I always wanted to do. And until you do it, you don't understand how fascinating the desert is."

Ms. Howe said she's received a handful of calls from people who have wanted to know more about the "Three Canyon Adventure."

"They say it's something they've always wanted to do," she said.

In the fall of last year and spring and summer of this year, 6,000 people have taken non-credit courses through NCCC's Division of Lifelong Learning, she said.

"We're very community-oriented because we're a community college," Ms. Howe said. "There is the professional development side (where students generally take courses for credit) and then there's what the community wants on the non-credit level."

Keeping abreast of current trends is an important part of planning the non-credit course schedule, Ms. Howe said.

"My motto is that I have to stay one step ahead of the devil," she said. "I talk to people, see what interests people, what interests me . . . We have our money-makers (the credit courses) and then we try and offer the fun courses for the community to get people onto our campus who might not otherwise get to our campus."

She also says she finds some "very passionate people" to teach.

One such instructor is Cynthia Antonacci of Niagara Falls, who has been certified in shiatsu since 1988 and is licensed by the state in Swedish massage techniques. She teaches "A Guided Introduction to Massage" and "Partners Shiatsu."

"This is a marvelous opportunity for the community to stretch themselves," said Ms. Antonacci, who added that many of these NCCC non-credit courses offer people the chance for "individual and spiritual development, and I'm very happy to be a part of that."

While she has taught the massage introduction course at NCCC before "and it's quite popular," she added that "the Partners Shiatsu is a new twist. It deals with wellness, helping each other remain well and bond in a healthy way."

She described shiatsu as "acupressure," or acupuncture without the needles.

Equally passionate about her subject, Jacalyn Perry has taught her "Rehabilitating Wildlife" course before at NCCC and finds it attracts all sorts of people, including "hunters, people interested in conservation and the environment, housewives and college students."

Mrs. Perry has her Class II license from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which allows her to teach, and her permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department.

Mrs. Perry's students learn how to examine, handle and bandage injured wildlife -- mainly birds. She said if she doesn't have an appropriate patient at the time, "I use one of my chickens."

Students in the second part of her course learn how to apply splints and slings.

Mrs. Perry, who runs the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Inc. in her Pendleton home, hopes through her courses to find new volunteers to take care of injured animals "because we're doing over 200 animals a year and that's a large volume to take care of."

Mail-in and phone-in registration is currently under way for the fall semester. Ms. Howe said prospective students can generally register for a non-credit course until shortly before it begins, provided there is room. Call the Community Education Office at 731-NCCC, Ext. 150 for more information.