Darke County Chamber of Commerce, DCED collaborate on IMPACT STEM2D Conference

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Attendees attend Career Fair, and learn about local STEM2D careers, like Spirit Medical Transport.

GREENVILLE—Hosted by the Darke County Chamber of Commerce and Darke County Economic Development (DCED), the second annual IMPACT STEM2D was held on Friday at the Birchwood Training Center in Greenville.

The Impact STEM2D is a day-long educational opportunity for young women in high school throughout Darke County. The ladies in attendance spent the day exploring different careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing and design (STEM2D).

The day was split up into a keynote speaker portion, and three interactive parts.

The keynote speaker Carolyn Stoll, MA, is the director of online instruction at the University of Cincinnati. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Education, and a Master’s Degree in English from Miami University in Ohio. She currently helps lead UC online instruction team in designing and building courses for the fully online programs at the university.

“Try something,” she told the young attendees. “Don’t think that you can’t take a job because you don’t think you’d like it. Just try it.”

The panels at the conference included the Women in Workforce Panel. In the panel, students were able to interact with local women in STEM2D careers to understand their background, daily experiences and opportunities for success in the field.

Another portion of the day was the career fair, where the young women connected with local companies interested in hiring in STEM2D positions.

The ladies participated in hands-on activities designed by local employers.

Lastly, the ladies were involved in workshops, where they participated in hands-on activities designed by local employers to explore and expand participants understanding of STEM2D opportunities.

Tamala Marley, workforce specialist at DCED, said that opportunities like this one allow Darke County students to practice professional & verbal communication skills, interact with local employers and explore STEM2D careers in a fun, positive and friendly way.

The event featured one main sponsor, BASF, and the lunch sponsor, Hotel Versailles. It came together for the first year in 2022, when BASF approached the Chamber and DCED.

“They came to us, and said ‘Hey we do this in other parts of the country, we would like to bring something like this to Darke County. What do you think?'” she said. “They went to chamber, and chamber came to us, and that kind of started the ball rolling.”

Newly-chosen, President of the Chamber Rachel Neal, said it’s valuable for the students to learn about all of the STEM2D positions out there.

“I just kind of leaped into this well-oiled machine as an additional set of hands,” she said. “I think it’s very cool for the students in attendance to get a chance to see, and learn about jobs that they may not have known existed. There are things so far out of my radar that I didn’t even know was a real job, that I think, ‘You know I could’ve wanted to be that when I grow up, I didn’t know that was an option.'”

Marley said the event was customized to Darke County’s smaller rural area. In 2022, the event hosted about 60 ladies, and this year it grew to host around 90 students from five Darke County schools.

“It’s been a huge change,” Neal added. “Registration was off the charts, which was really cool.”

What’s coming next for these high school students is scary,” Neal said. “It’s daunting out there. But, our keynote speaker told the girls, ‘You’re going to fail. You need a job to work, but you don’t need to stay in that position if you don’t love it. Find something you love.’ And I know I’ve done plenty of things I don’t love.”

In addition to the two large sponsors, other sponsors for the day included Whirlpool Corporation, Spirit Medical Transport, Wayne HealthCare, Brethren Retirement Community and Edison State Community College.