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You belong here. Diverse STEM professionals share about the STEM field

DECATUR, Ill.— The science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields currently lack diversity. Youth interested in entering the STEM field should be encouraged to do so, regardless of gender, orientation, or race. When we increase inclusivity, we increase creativity. Exposure and education will help bridge the gap between diversity and STEM. That is what Breaking SySTEMic Barriers, hosted by University of Illinois Extension in Macon County, aims to do.

Breaking SySTEMic Barriers will be held virtually from 10 a.m. to noon on April 10. “This fun, interactive STEM workshop is a virtual opportunity geared toward underrepresented youth who are interested in pursuing a career in a STEM field,” says Olivia Warren, 4-H youth coordinator. “With multiple options of breakout room topics to choose from, participants will learn first-hand from diverse STEM professionals of what they do in their field, how they got there, and what they should expect as they start to venture into the professional world.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from these accomplished STEM professionals and attend their breakout session.

  • Sam Smalley (she/her/hers), Board-Certified Behavior Analyst
    "Shaping" with a Behavior Analyst: See how we can show or teach someone a new skill by simply by understanding what is reinforcing to the individual and working with that knowledge to create behavior change.
  • Stephanie Gates (she/her/hers), Biological Mechanisms Postdoctoral Researcher
    Make a "Cabbage Indicator": Test the pH level of various household substances that you can find around your house like milk, vinegar, laundry detergent, and more.
  • Rosana Buchanan (she/her/hers), Doctorate student in Business Administration with specialization in Healthcare Administration
    Create a "Goals Board": Plan out your STEM goals, how to reach them, and when you want to complete them.
  • Brooke Troxell (she/her/hers), Science Teacher
    Creating a Friendly Backyard for Your “Wildest” Neighbors: Do you love seeing a visiting butterfly, bird, or frog on your porch or in your backyard?  Create a Friendly Backyard for these “wild” neighbors!
  • Erika Berhardt (she/her/hers), Reliability Engineer
    Embracing Failure - Is failure a bad thing?: Take on a near impossible task to see how we can learn from our failures and how they make us stronger and bring us that much closer to success.
  • Annaka Stoeckel (she/her/hers), Process Engineer
    Explore Chemical Reactions: Conduct an experiment using vinegar, baking soda, and balloons.
  • Kadriye Hieronymi (she/her/hers), Scientist, Regulatory & Scientific
    Pesticide Residue Reviews: Compare regulations for pesticide residue in a food ingredient to analytical lab results.
  • Shawn Shiffer (she/her/hers), Environmental Engineer
    Environmental Engineering and Discovering Environmental Contamination: Learn about the field of environmental engineering and work through an environmental contamination clean-up scenario.
  • Anshita Lalwani (she/her/hers), Financial Planner & Analysis Manager
    Cost Savings, Planning, and Analyzing: Ever thought how can 100+100 = 192? Tune in to this breakout room to learn more! This activity relates to how can cost savings be achieved within ADM!

This is a safe space for all and is free to attend; current 4-H members receive a free kit, everyone else will have a $7 fee if they wish to receive the optional kit. Register online by March 29 with a kit and April 5 without. Please email Olivia Warren for further information.

The 4-H program is provided through University of Illinois Extension and is open to youth ages 8 to 18. Youth learn skills for living by participating in individual or group learning experiences related to more than 200 project areas. Find Macon County 4-H on Facebook.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact (217) 877-6042. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.

Source: Olivia Warren (she/her/hers), 4-H Youth Development Coordinator, University of Illinois Extension

Writer: Laura Crider (she/her/hers), Marketing and Communications, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.