S.T.E.M. Education -
Science Technology Engineering Matmatics
Written by Christine Garcia
CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Juan County
This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an on-going awareness campaign to address all the areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. November has been designated by the CHIC as the month to bring awareness to Youth Education through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
What is Big Brothers Big Sisters?
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has been the number one nationwide youth mentoring organization for 110 years. In San Juan County we were incorporated in 1983, providing quality mentoring services to children for 31 years. From meager beginnings serving just a handful of children in the Farmington area we have grown to serve 300 children from communities throughout San Juan County including areas of the Navajo Reservation.
Our Mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring professionally supported one to one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
How is BBBS Associated with STEM Education?
Big Brothers Big Sisters has a new initiative focused on STEM education. This is a four tiered initiative dedicated to: 1) acquainting local youth with STEM professions through a free event entitled Discovery Festival; 2) helping youth discover their level of interest in STEM; 3) creating STEM based mentoring relationships and 4) providing scholarships to youth who qualify. The initiative will provide STEM educational experiences to thousands of youth between the ages of 5 and 18 in San Juan County and surrounding areas.
Through our STEM Initiative we will give corporation, organizations and educational institutions a conduit in which to introduce fun, creative STEM related activities local youth through a free event entitled Discovery Festival. Discovery Festival will take place at McGee Park on December 5th and 6th. Children and parents who attend the event will also receive guidance and next steps for pursing an education and career in the STEM fields. Youth will also have an opportunity to enroll in the STEM Mentoring Program and be matched to local STEM professional who will assist in cultivation the youth’s educational and career aspirations.
Why is this Important?
In New Mexico only 56% of youth graduate from high school, ranking us 48th in the nation. Without high school diplomas, these youth are limited to low-paying jobs and as a result many will continue to live in a cycle of poverty. According to the Alliance of Excellent Education, New Mexico’s high dropout rate will cost these youth almost $3.6 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes.
Simultaneously, there is a high demand for STEM professionals in our energy rich region. Often-times corporations bring professionals from outside our community and sometimes outside of the United States to fill these positions because we cannot currently provide a qualified workforce. Meanwhile, many of San Juan County’s youth may have an aptitude in the STEM fields but will not discover their talents without intervention.
The U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and, unfortunately, there will be a significant shortage of qualified college graduates to fill them. We understand that investing in the education of our youth can help rebuild our economy and pay dividends over the long term. This STEM initiative will give our youth tools to reach their full potential and prepare for future jobs. Helping our youth compete globally will have a lasting, positive impact on our world. Our goal is to put our youth on a stronger path to long-term employment by focusing on their unique and specific skills development needs.
2014 November 04
KSJE 90.9 FM
The Scott Michlin Morning Program
Link to BBBS
of San Juan County