Coffee talk Fridays tackle topics from smoking to travel trailers | News

TRAVERSE CITY — Have your coffee at home and hear a story too.

Northwestern Michigan College’s Extended Education Services is hosting a series of “coffee chats” through the end of April. Those interested can ask questions and get career advice from prominent names across the northwest Lower Peninsula.

NMC’s Extended Education Services provide a series of non-credit professional workforce development and life enrichment classes at the college. In years past it hold campus days twice annually to host 400 people across 40 different sessions, but COVID-19 restrictions forced the department to seek other options.

“Our idea for the interim was to start this coffee chat series,” said Laura Matchett, NMC Extended Ed. Program Director.

The hour-long sessions consist of a 20-minute pre-recorded interview with a weekly guest, then a live question and answer session with the same guest joining in on the conversations. All start at 10 a.m.

The virtual format makes it easier to arrange for guests, Matchett said, and those who participate are now more accustomed to going online.

Guests can enjoy their own coffee, not have to worry about driving into town and still share a screen with a member of their community.

“Although it can’t replace face to face contact, that kind of engagement is pretty close, in a lot of ways,” Matchett said.

“I think that they will be entertaining as well as enlightening. Really just all around good learning experience.”

Chris and Julie Doyal were the first speakers at an event “Adventures out West” Jan. 29. There, Chris Doyal presented a series of photographs he took on vacation last summer.

On deck are retired University of Michigan professor Ken Warner on the demographics of those who are smoking now; Bill Donberg, adjunct NMC flight instructor; even Mickey Graham, General Manager of the Traverse City Pit Spitters.

“I thought, you know, who has a story to tell that people may not know about?” Matchett said when selecting the speakers. “Who who would give a great personal account?”

In a typical year EES will serve close to 5,000 students and fill 10,000 seats over the course of two semesters, Matchett said. Events like coffee chats allow those who’d typically attend face-to-face classes a way to keep in touch.

The cost to attend one session is $15 and $99 for all sessions “The Whole Carafe.”

There’s currently 20 students signed up for all, with each session having an additional five to 10 individuals.

“My hope is that this kind of enjoyable, fun, relaxed event on Friday mornings, keeps people curious, keeps people engaged and keeps people contributing to the community,” Matchett said.

Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR

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