Faculty and staff from the West Virginia University Extension Service have teamed with Extension colleagues from the University of Maryland, Ohio State University and Pennsylvania State University to plan a conference especially for persons concerned with midlife issues.

“Celebrating Midlife: The Best is Yet to Be!”is scheduled for April 7-9 at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling.

A committee of county and state Extension personnel from the four states has worked for more than a year to plan the meeting, which will focus on practical information and researched-based programs. The audience will be people in their middle years (ages 40 to 60 and beyond) and those who work with that age group.

At the heart of the meeting are 45 workshops organized in six subject tracks: caregiving, family connections, financial stability, health and wellness, housing and personal development. Participants can attend up to seven workshops in any track. Extension educators from county, state and national levels will present most of the sessions.

The meeting also will include two motivational keynote talks, pre-conference tours, recreation and relaxation at the resort and interaction with people from the four states.

“Midlife is a relatively new phenomenon because people on average live longer and raise smaller families than at any other time in history,”said Dr. C. Sue Miles, Extension family life specialist, who is WVU s chair for the conference.

“Whether people are aged 40, 50, 60 or even 70, they have more years ahead in which to direct their energies,”she commented.”Never before have there been so many challenges, changes and choices for people in their middle years.”

Setting the conferences tone at the opening session will be Dr. David Lee Hunter, a nationally known author, humorist and poet. He will speak on”Celebrating Midlife with Laughter”at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 7. The Kentucky native spent five years in West Virginia as a WVU Extension agent in Lincoln County.

A second keynote presentation,”A New Attitude in Midlife for Boomers and Beyond,”will given by Anne-Michelle Marsden at 7 p.m. Monday, April 8. Marsden, an Extension educator with Rutgers University, has worked extensively with retirees and those who care for the elderly.

Four options will be offered for the pre-conference tours, which cost extra: Victorian downtown Wheeling, Wheeling Downs Racetrack, the former West Virginia Penitentiary and Oglebays horticultural operations.

The registration fee for the entire meeting is $125 if paid by Feb. 1. That fee covers breakfast on Monday and Tuesday and lunch and dinner on Monday. Registrations postmarked after Feb. 1 are $150. Daily registrations are also available.

Oglebay is offering special conference rates for rooms reserved by Jan. 1, 2002. The resorts toll-free number is 1-800-624-6988. Participants should indicate that they are with the West Virginia University”Celebrating Midlife”conference.

More details and registration forms are available on the conferences Web site( http://www.celebratingmidlife.org ). For additional information, contact Miles by telephone (293-2796, ext. 3446) or e-mail( CSMiles@mail.wvu.edu ).