The 2018 Spring session of Life Enrichment at Bethel College will begin on Feb. 7. The Life Enrichment Committee is once again bringing multiple speakers to North Newton to speak on topics ranging from education to entertainment to economics.

Susie Wickiser, Life Enrichment Committee chair, said the subjects chosen for the series are often suggested by attendees. Certain speakers may have been featured in articles published by The Kansan and stirred an interest. Others are invited based on their familial or professional relationships with committee members.

"I'm a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so I like to keep my ear to the ground," Wickiser said.

The Life Enrichment Committee works to offer a series that is engaging to attendees who have themselves been involved in a variety of industries, including business, farming, ranching, mission work and social services.

"There's a wide range of interests," Wickiser said. "I think we want to be intentional about being inclusive."

Timothy Crews, research director and ecologist from The Land Institute in Salina will present "Transforming Agriculture from a Soil-Degrading into a Soil-Building Activity" on Feb. 7.

"They're doing some leading research on perennial wheat so they don't have to plant it every year," Wickiser said.

John Sharp, professor of history at Hesston College, will share "Group of 62: The Story of MCC Rescuing Russian Mennonite Soldiers After WWI" on March 7.

"That story has been on my radar for at least a year," Wickiser said. "...It's one of those stories that if you don't tell it, it becomes totally forgotten."

"Preparing to Live in the Shoes of Women in History" will be the subject of discussion by Irene Nielsen and Bonnie Johnson of Designing Excellence on March 28.

"They do the tea performances at the McPherson Opera House and the Dyck Arboretum as well," Wickiser noted.

Wickiser said Vallerie Gleason, chief executive officer of Newton Medical Center, will return to Life Enrichment to speak on "Ten Reasons Why Health Care Has Changed" on April 4.

On April 11, Jim Goering will present "Kim Jong-Un's North Korea: A Clear and Present Danger."

"Jim has an incredibly vast resume of international work as an economist with the World Bank," Wickiser said. "Jim comes and does a presentation that's very easy to follow."

Also on April 11, Court Appointed Special Advocate Director Sandra Bradley and CASA volunteer Marlene Faul will share about the organization's mission to assist children who have been abused or neglected.

"CASA is an important ministry here," Wickiser said.

Newton Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief Scott Metzler will talk about "Community Paramedicine" on April 18.

"The community gets together to support their health so they're not in the emergency room constantly," Wickiser said.

On April 25, Aaron Yoder, who is the head cross country and track and field coach for Bethany College, will narrate his experiences with backwards running. Later that morning, Barbara Gibson, president of National Alliance for Mental Illness for Harvey, McPherson and Marion counties, will present "Why Do We Not Want to Talk About Suicide?"

"The program on suicide is one that was suggested by our audience," Wickiser said.

Life Enrichment regularly draws in an audience numbering close to 200 people.

"It's just an amazing audience," Wickiser said. "There are some people who don't miss a program and haven't missed for years."

The 2018 Spring series will conclude on May 2.

"We like to close with the acappella groups — Woven and Open Road — if we can get them," Wickiser said. "It gives us kind of a cheerful farewell to the semester."

The series is open to all. There is a cost of $20 per semester or $2 per week to attend Life Enrichment. First-time attendees can listen for free. Life Enrichment starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends around 12:15 p.m. each Wednesday. The series will not meet on March 21 because of Spring Break.

A van runs to Bethel College, 300 E. 27th St., North Newton, from Kidron Bethel Village each week. Those who are able to walk a short distance are encouraged to park at Kauffman Museum, 2801 N. Main St. in North Newton.

For more information about the Life Enrichment program, visit or call 316-283-2500.