Impact STEM2D Conference for Women an exciting and educational event

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GREENVILLE – Hosted by the Darke County Chamber of Commerce and Darke County Economic Development, was the third year of the Impact STEM2D Conference for Women. 

STEM2D stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing, and Design. This event gives young women in grades 9 – 12 the opportunity to learn more about local careers in STEM2D by meeting Women in these types of careers and the local employers that support them and with hands-on workshops. 

BASF approached the Chamber of Commerce three years ago about starting this event. The Chamber of Commerce reached out to Darke County Economic Development and started a partnership to put on this conference.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer on why we are here,” Rachel Neal from Darke County Chamber of Commerce said. “To encourage women to follow those career paths in the STEM2D industries. Being able to have that representation is important. Encouraging them to do hands-on activities and seeing what they can do every day for a job it’s neat, and it’s fun. I think being able to enjoy what you do is important. Encouraging the young women in our community to see what’s out there in the world is huge.” 

Nearly 120 young women from schools around the county signed up to participate in this event and learn from 19 company sponsors. 

“It gives them exposure,” Mike Bowers from DCED said. “That’s the critical point of what we are looking at. It’s how do you get those high school-age students exposure to the great career opportunities that could exist in their future.” 

After signing in, trivia, and a photo booth, the students heard from Keynote Speaker Dr. Melissa Wertz from Edison State Community College. Wertz shared her career journey with her background in mathematics education, technology training, and adjunct teaching. Wertz then went on to talk about what she explained were the skills for success. These were Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Adaptability, Communication, Creativity, and Curiosity. 

After hearing from Dr. Melissa Wertz, the students separated into three different rotations. 

One rotation was the Career fair. Several businesses, BASF, Midmark, Whirlpool Corp, Wayne Healthcare, Spirit Medical Services, Brethren Retirement Community, Edison State Community College, GNB Banking Centers, Darke Co. General Health District, Crown Equipment, JAFE Decorating, Classic Carriers, Everheart Hospice, The Andersons, Reid Health, Klockner Pentaplast, Fort Recovery Industries, Family Health, and Cooper Farms, all had booths set up. 

These booths featured women who talked about their STEM2D careers, answered questions, and encouraged the young women to continue pursuing their STEM2D goals. 

An Edison State Community College representative shared, “For us as a community college, we’re like the first step to moving forward in a career, so it gives the students options for a higher education. I also love interacting with students; that’s why I’m excited to be here, and it’s important for us to do as a college as well.” 

A representative from Anderson shared, “We always need good people as employees that can help with the science part of our business. We’re trying to encourage younger people into the STEM field. We always like good local employees, so if we can get some of these girls to go into the field and come back to the plant, maybe someday it would be good for everyone.”

A representative from BASF shared, “At BASF, our slogan is We Create Chemistry. As I was explaining to the students about anything you come into contact with, BASF has a footprint on it. It’s important for us to be here today for Chemistry; it’s part of STEM, Science, and everything from Technology, Research, and development, All of that.”

Another rotation included hands-on workshops. BASF had a chemistry demonstration turning milk into plastics. The Andersons had a workshop called “Dead or Alive,” students were challenged to count yeast cells and tell the difference between live and dead cells. Spirit Medical Transport had an Ambulance experience where students explored an ambulance and learned about being an EMT. Wayne Healthcare had a healthy habits workshop measuring portions and learning about healthy lifestyles. The Brethren Retirement Community had a Dementia Care workshop showing what a day in the life of someone with dementia might look like. 

A representative from the Brethren Retirement Community shared, “These students are our future. We need students to go to school to become nurses to take care of people.” 

A representative from BASF shared, “We want to express to students that science is awesome and learning is awesome. If one student gets sparked by something, it’s worth it. I hope for their futures that they take an interest and get excited.” 

A representative from Spirit Medical Transport Shared, “I think people think EMS is a male-dominated profession, but it’s becoming more and more not male-dominated. I think it’s important that young women know they can do this. They can do everything that a man can do.”

The third rotation was a Workforce panel. While the students ate lunch, representatives from Midmark, Whirlpool-Kitchen Aid, Wayne Healthcare, BASF, Edison State Community College, and Spirit Medical Transport interacted with them, talking one-on-one and answering students’ questions. 

The representatives shared, “Just being here showing them the variety of STEM they can experience out in the workforce is important. None of this was around when I was in high school or college, and I see how important it is. I wish this was around when I was that age. Give them the encouragement. There are a lot of options and pathways they might not be aware of.” 

BASF approached the Chamber of Commerce about starting this event. The Chamber of Commerce reached out to Darke County Economic Development, and they started a partnership to put on this conference. 

To end the event, Heather Suerdieck from Inside Out Coaching led a reflection exercise on what they had learned and how to move forward with that.

“Now that you have all this great information, what is your launch item?” Suerdieck said. “What’s one way you can launch what you saw here forward? Whether that’s investigating a new career, making a connection with a company, or reaching out to a company, it’s setting an intention for what you saw here to grow you even more 

Reflection, Launch, and Application. 

The young women who attended the event were all very excited about the event and the chance to learn more about STEM2D careers. 

They were excited about: “Learning about the different Careers and options.” 

“For me, engineering, I love engineering and math, so it was perfect for me to come.” 

“It’s a really good opportunity to come and look at different careers we can do.”

“The whole thing has been exciting; all around, it’s been a good experience.”

The Impact STEM2D Conference was a great opportunity for young women to learn about STEM2D careers in a positive and friendly environment, work on their professional and verbal communication skills, and interact with local employers. 

The Impact STEM2D Conference would like to thank the volunteers from the Greenville Chapter of Business and Professional Women and the planning team: Rachel Neal, Kim Manalo, Melanie Nealeigh, Todd Schilling, Denise Elsas, April Hoying, Rachel Carlisle, Maria Moore, Leigha Brown, and Rebecca Fourman.

They would also like to thank their sponsors. Event Sponsor BASF, Gold Sponsors: Brethren Retirement Community, Edison State, Klockner Pentaplast, Midmark, Spirit Medical Transport, The Andersons, Wayne Healthcare, and Whirlpool, and Career sponsors: classic Carriers, Cooper Farms, Crown Equipment Corporation, Darke County Health District, Everheart Hospice, Family Health, Fort Recovery Industries, GNB Banking Centers, Safe Decorating, and Reid Health.