Paint Like Bob Ross

The Bob Ross painting class held in fall 2020.

Remember the beginning of quarantine? Back when everyone was attempting to make sourdough bread, learning a new instrument or trying a new workout routine?

Our momentum may have slowed, but good news — even after almost a year of the pandemic, there are still in-person and virtual ways for adults to develop new hobbies and pursue passions. Community education courses in the southwest metro are a great way to try new things, get out of the house and maybe even meet new people (distanced, of course).

“Once we knew kids were starting to come back to school, we knew we could start making the buildings more accessible to bring back people in-person,” said Katie Johnson, enrichment and engagement specialist at Eastern Carver County Schools Community Education.

“Turnout has been surprisingly good,” added Shakopee Community Education Adult Services Coordinator Emily Starke. “We’re offering new things to try and keep some variety for those at home, and they’re good quality classes — our instructors have it figured out. They’re filmed professionally, have assistants ... we guide participants through everything.”

If you need help with Zoom or Google Meet, staff is available to help — and if in-person classes get cancelled, staff can drive to each participant’s house personally to deliver the supplies needed for virtual learning.

Safety precautions like masks and social distancing are required. In Shakopee, for example, all in-person classes that require pairing up or sharing workspaces have instituted a new rule: you have to sign up with a person from your household, Starke explained.

“I think during the pandemic, people are looking for something fun to do. They can start new hobbies and new things they maybe didn’t have time for before,” she said.

Current programs

The winter catalogues for community classes run through May, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up. Here are some of the many options offered by Shakopee Community Education and Eastern Carver County Schools Community Education — all under $75.

Most popular: Painting with Bob Ross. Offered by both SCE and ECCS, this class is taught by an instructor certified in the PBS star’s method (happy little trees!). All skill levels are welcome, and all supplies will be provided. Paint autumn woods, a moonlit seascape or mountain grandeur in just one night. $59.

For the active: Dancing — but these aren’t just your typical waltzes. Ready to hit the town when it’s safe? Prepare with Night Club Two-Step, which teaches dance patterns usable in clubs, parties and more. Or, give the 16-step polka a try during Country Line Dance (along with the cowboy cha-cha, scoot and swingin’ line dance). Both meet two times, $19.

For the history buff: “A Look Back: Stories from the Attic” goes through stacks of 1940s newspapers found during a remodeling project. From headlines to comics to advertisements, an instructor will weave together pieces and take a virtual walk through time. SCE, $24.

For the baker: Be the star of the post-pandemic party by taking the in-person “Marvelous Macarons” class. The instructor will teach how to make and assemble blueberry, lemon and pink champagne macarons, with all supplies provided. SCE, $39/person.

Most unusual: Hypnosis. Bring a blanket, pillow and an open mind to Shakopee East Middle School, where you can attend Hypnosis for Weight Loss or Vaping/Smoking. They also offer complimentary refreshers for those who have attended previous sessions. SCE, $64.

For the job hunter: Searching for a new gig? This class covers the whole process — resume writing, LinkedIn profiles, interviewing, salary negotiations and more. ECCS, $25.

For the new cook: Instant pots are electric pressure pots that claim to be a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, browning and sautéing pan and warmer; helpful, but potentially overwhelming. Learn new meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert (and taste them!) by following a live online instructor. SEC, $29.

For the crafter: Fresh and Natural Spring Soaps will teach all ages how to make one of the most vital supplies during the pandemic: soap. Sulfate and phthalate-free ingredients with a variety of scents will be provided, and participants will take home 4 new soaps and some DIY tips. ECCS, $29.

For the (future) traveler: The virtual How to Travel Safely and for Free! Course will show you how to earn free airline tickets, hotel nights and tours in the USA and beyond. Prepare for the “new normal” by learning what to do if you become sick, how travel insurance works and more. Fee includes a 100-page ebook for future reference. ECCS, $45

For the competitor: Miss playing against a team? Those experienced in the art of Pickleball can go up against (and work with) fellow players every Friday for eight weeks. For experienced players only. ECCS, $40 for all eight sessions.