It is never too late – or too early — to invest in our youth. For example, annually the Morro Bay-based American Association of University Women (AAUW) produces a Garden Tour. For a mere $15 ticket five home owners in Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos open their uniquely designed gardens offering tips for planting, pruning and general landscaping.
The event takes place on a Sunday typically in April. It is self-guided gleaning gardening tips and ideas knowing your investment has helped invest in the future of young women entering eight grade. Proceeds help fund scholarships to attend Tech Trek, a week-long immersion summer camp focused on science, technology, engineering and math at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The program, developed in 1998 by California AAUW member Mary Wolback, has consistently proven to open future goals and dreams inspiring students with possibilities never considered possible. It is documented Tech Trek alumnae surpass the national average in most advanced math and science courses.
During the summer of 2017, four young women from Los Osos Middle School, Leona Moylan, Fiona Stevens, Claire Haslett and Anika Velasquez passed an extensive qualification process that included an application, an essay, and a personal interview. Additionally, AAUW coordinated attendance at camp for Theona Hadjiyane and Reagan Garcia funded by the Cayucos Lioness Club. The young scientists’ interests ranged from the search for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes to renewable energy sources and filtration systems to provide potable drinking water.
Notes of appreciation and a presentation at a Fall AAUW general meeting followed their Tech Trek Camp experience. After six months into their final year at middle school I asked the question, “Did summer camp continue to influence your education – and goals for your potential future careers?”
Theona Hadjiyane explained, “I have done a little better in my math and science classes since attending Tech Trek…my attitude has not changed because I have always liked learning new things in school and I will always want to be a teacher. Camp reinforced my plans for the future and reminded me of the great things I will do.”
“The highlight of camp for me was definitely the social aspect,” Anika Velasquez said. “There were so many girls and they were all wonderful people. I remember one night in our dorm all of our girls gathered around my roommate’s bed and I did impressions for them. The smiles on these amazingly intelligent girls’ faces and hearing them laughing was the best part of my trip.” Anika also enjoyed the boat trip. “It’s awesome that we get to experience something that is specific to our area and a big part of the Central Coast.”
”I enjoy math very much,” added Reagan Garcia, “but if it hadn’t been for my math teacher, I probably wouldn’t have ever even known what Tech Trek was. After hearing about the camp, I decided to apply because I knew I wanted to go to college and wanted to find inspiration from other women who are in STEM careers.”
“The biggest surprise was that all the girls there had huge dreams and were all ready to chase them!” said Claire Haslett. “My dreams to become an endocrinologist have become more real. I absolutely love math and science, but this camp taught me to love it even more. My dreams for medical school will come true!”
Fiona Stevens first heard about Tech Trek from her older sister, Natalie, who constantly “…talked about (it) for two months.” Fiona was interested in STEM courses. Aerospace Engineering was her favorite. “We spent hours each day learning and doing fun activities, like making hot air balloons, rockets out of liter bottles, and making paper airplanes…definitely the best part of my core class was learning about rockets…no lift, a little bit of drag, weight is going down, and thrust is going up.” She determined, “I have always enjoyed attending school, but I never really thought about my future career until Tech Trek. I was introduced to many inspiring women who have careers in science and math, that have pushed me to believe in myself and have directed me towards some future careers, like being a Biomedical Engineer, or an Electrical Engineer.”
Anika has applied everything she learned and improved her study habits. She summed it up for all involved. “Tech Trek taught me that even though I am a girl, I can achieve anything I set my mind to, which helped reinforce my plans for college and life’s career by planning out high school, and getting me involved in my interests, such as space, medicine, and the ocean.”
Indeed, worth a $15 investment enjoying a Sunday afternoon Central Coast Garden Party. Tickets are available after April 1 each year at Volumes of Pleasure Bookstore, Coalesce Bookstore, and Farm Supply in San Luis Obispo or from any AAUW Morro Bay Branch member. Missed it this year? Check it out next April. Of course, want to invest more to help a girl find her career at Tech Trek? You can also underwrite the cost of a girl to attend camp so AAUW can send a larger class to Santa Barbara from the Central Coast. For more information, https://www.morrobayaauw.org.