As you make your summer plans ...

Between the scenic views, wonderful camping, hiking and fishing spots, you probably don't need any more reasons to visit Petit Jean Mountain this summer. But we're giving you some anyway.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute will host five programs and a number of culinary classes over the next 75 days. It all kicks off with the Conference on Normal Tissue Radiation Effects and Countermeasures. That translates to the acronym CONTREC. CONTREC, which kicked off yesterday and continues through Saturday, is an international gathering of scientists who work in the field of radiation injury research. What is radiation injury, you might ask? It's when the tissue in your body is damaged because of exposure to radiation.

The researchers coming to CONTREC will present findings related to three types of radiation injury: cancer treatment (the most common), radiation emergencies (think dirty bombs or nuclear meltdowns) and space travel. Yes, space travel.

It just so happens that we have one of the world's premier radiation injury institutions right here in our Arkansas backyard at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Who knew? Well, UAMS' chancellor, Dr. Dan Rahn, did. And last year he helped us connect the dots to work with Dr. Martin Hauer-Jensen, the director of UAMS' Division of Radiation Health and a worldwide leader in radiation injury research. Dr. Hauer-Jensen has brought in scientists from all over the globe (Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom, to name a few) for CONTREC. This conference is NOT open to the public, but we hope to share some of what is discussed through our social media feeds, so keep an eye on @Rockefeller on Twitter later this week.

We go from tackling a health care issue of global magnitude this week to helping spur local agricultural and economic development next week. On Thursday, May 14, we're hosting a Business Workshop for Landowners. It's only $30 (or $50 per couple - cost covers lunch and snacks, too) for a full day of instruction about how to take the farm or timberland you own and turn it into a profitable business, whether through starting a hunting or fishing club, an agritourism venture or a host of other opportunities.

This program was developed by the Natural Resources Enterprise folks at Mississippi State University. Adam Tullos and Daryl Jones are walking encyclopedias when it comes to land management for business purposes, and we're excited to have them here. We're also partnering with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, and they'll bring their Arkansas-specific expertise to the workshop. The registration deadline is Friday (May 8), so sign up soon.

June is Shakespeare month here at the Institute. On June 12-13, we're hosting a St. John's College Great Books seminar, in which participants will read the Bard's The Merchant of Venice ahead of time and then be guided in discussion of the text by Dr. Victoria Mora, a vice president at St. John's and an expert in classic literature. Then the following Saturday, June 20, we're hosting the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre's performance of As You Like It. The performance will be an abridged (1-hour), family-friendly version of the play, which includes one of Shakespeare's most famous lines, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." The free performance, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, literally, will be held on the Institute's front lawn. It makes for a great family outing.

And finally, we're gearing up for our Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp in July. We'll have more details later, but suffice it to say it's shaping into a pretty spectacular program. The keynote of that event, an interview of Steve Clark conducted by Roby Brock, will be free and open to the public.

And we haven't even touched on our amazing culinary classes, including Table for Two (still some openings for summer classes), Chef's Tasting Dinner, Made From Scratch and Basic Training.

There's something for everyone at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute this summer. We'll see you soon.