Banks and travel agencies court customer loyalty with 55-plus clubs, so why not do the same thing with learning institutions? Barton Community College is finding one of its strongest bases of supporters among senior citizens in the Silver Cougar Club.
The club for people 55 years of age and older has 527 members, says Coleen Cape, in the college’s Foundation Office. For $15 a year, or $25 per couple, members are eligible to take many BCC courses for $30 per credit hour, as opposed to the $87 per hour paid by other Barton County residents. They also get a membership card that gives them free access to regular season home athletic events as well as access to the college’s swimming pool during open swim time in the fall and spring semesters and a 15 percent discount at the BCC Bookstore. There are also social events and day trips, and a club newsletter so members know what’s coming up.
“Membership is diversified and includes men and women, singles and couples, individuals 55-96 years of age, and members from a variety of communities,” Cape noted in a recent report. The best attended club event most years is the Silver Cougar Club Picnic. The best-attended day trips in 2012 were all to Wichita, with members visiting Botanica Gardens and seeing “A Chorus Line” and “White Christmas” at the Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre.
The college provides buses and drivers for these trips, which allows the Silver Cougar Club to keep cost to members down, Cape said.
Since it began in 2003, the Silver Cougar Club has helped more senior citizens learn about what the college has to offer. But it wasn’t long before members also began learning about ways to give back to the college.
Members learn about opportunities for volunteering, such as helping at opening receptions for exhibits at Barton’s Shafer Art Gallery, Cape said. And for the last four years, they’ve provided funds for SCC scholarships. “I think it says a lot for their attitude toward Barton Community College,” she said. “They are good ambassadors for the college.”
The next trip planned for the Silver Cougar Club is an April trek called “Tulip Time in Topeka.”
For more information about the Silver Cougar Club contact Coleen Cape by calling 620-786-1136 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.