Project: Girls Weekend in the Woods
A dozen girls representing WB Saul, Bodine, and Central High Schools, The Young Scholars Charter School, The Esperanza Academy Charter School, and Girls Inc. were mentored by SWEP members and Schuylkill Center Staff, for an overnight adventure in the Schuylkill Center’s woodlands. The United States has fallen behind other countries in the numbers of students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. The numbers are especially and persistently low for women, particularly those of color. Researchers are trying to learn why STEM careers are declining for these groups. “While interest is certainly a factor in getting older girls to study and pursue a career in these disciplines, more attention should be given to building confidence in their abilities early in their education,” says UWM Distinguished Professor Nadya Fouad. She is one of the authors of a three-year study aimed at identifying supports and barriers that steer girls toward or away from science and math during their education. “The relationship between confidence and interest is close,” says Fouad. “If they feel they can do it, it feeds their interest.” Science Daily, Sep. 8, 2008.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is uniquely suited to engage girls in Environmental Science. Its Environmental Education department is staffed entirely by women, so the Schuylkill Center recognizes that it can be a critical agent of change in the Philadelphia region by sharing knowledge and building interest in environmental careers for girls. The girls built their confidence in outdoor skills such as camping, orienteering, canoeing, water testing. Angela R. Cornelio-Weimer was one of the high school girls who attended the Girls’ Weekend. “I hope it happens again and again, ‘cause I would love to participate more – I had a lot of fun and met some great girls!” “Angela loves doing things with nature”, added her mom Rosanne Cornelio. “Thanks for giving her the chance!” SWEP volunteers also participated in the weekend, such as Kathy Felter Freeman, Senior Environmental Scientist at Terra Nova Environmental Services, L.L.C. Said Freeman, “We couldn’t be happier with our decision to help fund the Girls’ Weekend in the Woods. It’s not every day that you get to see first-hand, how your contributions help women in the environmental field. The Girls’ Weekend in the Woods brought our mission to a reality. The Center found a way to make watershed education fun and exciting – Bravo!”
In addition, SWEP awarded a $1000 grant to the Erdenheim and Enfield Girl Scouts for a butterfly and bird migration garden. The money will be used toward designing, planting, and maintaining the migration garden. SWEP awarded a second $1,000 grant to Oaks Elementary in the Spring-Ford Area School District for enhancing a Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat.